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ND Women’s Soccer: Still kicking

Bill Brink | Monday, December 3, 2007

The Irish forwards hit the trifecta Friday.

Sophomore Michele Weissenhofer, junior Brittany Bock and senior Kerri Hanks all scored, and Hanks’ goal in the 78th minute gave Notre Dame a 3-2 victory over Duke at Alumni Field in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The Irish move on to face Florida State Friday in the NCAA semifinals at Texas A&M in College Station. The game is a rematch of last year’s semifinal match, which the Irish won 2-1. Florida State beat Connecticut 3-2 in overtime to advance to the semifinals.

Hanks’ decisive scoring sequence began with senior midfielder Amanda Cinalli winning control of the ball from two Duke defenders. Cinalli passed to an open Hanks on the right side. The reigning Hermann Trophy winner dribbled closer and scored on a low shot past Blue Devils goalkeeper Allison Lipsher into the left side of the net.

“Kerri did a great job of cutting it in and creating a great angle for herself,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “She is the best finisher in the county if you give her chances like that.”

Hanks said the trust between her and her teammates helped in the buildup to the winning goal.

“We went in at halftime and knew that one or two goals would not do it,” Hanks said. “It was amazing how we came back to get the final goal. I believe in our team and everybody just trusts each other and we did it.”

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead into halftime and scored again in the first seven minutes of the second half, but the Blue Devils scored twice in five minutes to tie the score.

Notre Dame had not allowed a team to tie the game after leading 2-0 in 175 straight matches before Friday’s contest.

“It was fitting that Duke came back and tied it, and then you saw our character to come back and win it,” Waldrum said. “Nobody ever got discouraged when Duke came back.”

Weissenhofer had a different take on the Blue Devils’ comeback.

“We like to keep the games entertaining,” she said. “That was the case tonight when they came back and tied it.”

Blue Devils coach Robbie Church said his players’ lack of experience played a role at the end of the game.

“We spent a lot of energy tying the game up and then tried to put some fresh, but inexperienced, legs in there,” Church said.

Irish keeper Lauren Karas prevented a goal in the fifth minute of the game when Blue Devils midfielder CJ Ludemann got free on the right side. Ludemann dribbled close and took a hard shot, but Karas came off her line and dove to her right to make the save. Weissenhofer opened the scoring in the 20th minute after receiving a pass from Bock. Weissenhofer feinted around her defender and took a shot that slipped to the right of Lipsher.

“Brittany played a great ball and I cut it back, saw where the goalkeeper was and placed it in the right corner,” Weissenhofer said. “It was with my right foot, just like the two goals at UNC.”

Weissenhofer now has four goals in the postseason, the same number she had in the entire regular season and Big East tournament combined as an ankle injury hampered her early performance.

“I am more confident in myself over the past few weeks and am just so happy for the team and how we are playing,” Weissenhofer said. “We all are more confident and unified right now because we are nearing the end of a common goal.”

Bock scored in the 52nd minute to give the Irish a two-goal cushion when she headed a Hanks corner kick under the crossbar and out of Lipsher’s reach. After that goal, Church said, the Blue Devils changed their approach.

“When it went to 2-0, we just wanted to get one back and put the pressure back on them,” the coach said. “Then we really started to press hard and were winning balls in the midfield and running at their back line.”

And the increased pressure worked: Duke scored twice in five minutes.

Before Duke’s first goal, the Irish couldn’t clear Blue Devils midfielder Jane Alukonis’ corner kick. Ludemann passed the ball to Duke forward Jane Hathorn, who put the ball past Karas to get Duke on the board in the 58th minute.

In the 63rd minute, Ludemann got free in the middle of the field and fired a long shot that bent from right to left, out of Karas’ reach, into the left corner of the goal.

“We should have closed that quicker and not given her that shot to strike the ball,” Waldrum said. “But give credit to the kids, we didn’t lose control of the game.”

After Hanks’ goal, the Irish killed the clock and sealed their trip to the semifinals. The team was ecstatic to have another chance at a championship after losing in last year’s title game to North Carolina.

“I’m just so proud of the team that we get to go to the final four again,” Hanks said. “I want to win a national championship. To win it for our seniors will mean everything.”


u Senior midfielder Ashley Jones played in her 104th career game Friday. She now holds the school record for career games played and is tied for second in career games played in the NCAA. Robin Confer, who played for North Carolina from 1994-97, is safe at No. 1 with 107.

u In Notre Dame’s last 17 games, it is 16-0-1 and has scored five goals for every goal allowed (50 goals scored, 10 goals allowed).