Oct. 3, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored her ninth goal of the season in the 20th minute and Notre Dame’s defense did the rest, holding its opponent without a shot on goal for the second consecutive game, as the top-ranked Irish remained the nation’s lone unbeaten and untied team with a solid 3-0 win over South Florida on Friday night in BIG EAST cross-divisional action before a season-high crowd of 2,316 at Alumni Field.
Sophomore midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) added her second goal of the year in the 34th minute on a splendid blast from long distance, and senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) punctuated the victory with a penalty kick goal (her 11th tally of the season) in the 52nd minute. Hanks now has scored in five consecutive games, potting six goals in that span.
By contrast, it was a slow night for Notre Dame’s goalkeepers, who rarely touched the ball, let alone were tested in any way. Junior Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) went the first 85 minutes between the pipes before giving way to sophomore Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate), who preserved the eighth Irish shutout in 11 games this season.
As a team, Notre Dame outshot South Florida, 27-0, including a 13-0 edge in shots on goal. The Irish have not allowed a shot on goal in exactly 182 minutes, dating back to the final two minutes of the Louisville game on Sept. 26. Notre Dame also held a decisive 7-0 advantage in corner kicks against USF, and the Irish were able to substitute liberally in the second half, with 26 of the 28 healthy players on the roster seeing action on Friday night.
“This was a good win for us in a number of ways,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I thought we grew a little bit and learned some lessons from the DePaul game a couple of weeks ago, which was against another defensive-minded opponent. We were patient early on and got some good scoring chances which paid off with Melissa’s goal, but what was most pleasing to me was the way we kept up the pressure even after we scored. It was also good to get a lot of different players on the field and get the opportunity to get a taste of BIG EAST soccer, while also resting some of our starters in the second half.”
It didn’t take long for Notre Dame (11-0-0, 4-0-0 BIG EAST) to venture into South Florida territory, as Henderson got loose on the left side of the penalty area and was pulled down for a penalty kick just 65 seconds into the game. However, the Irish couldn’t capitalize, as Hanks’ ensuing PK try caromed off the left post, her first miss in 10 career penalty kicks during the run of play. A little more than a minute later, Hanks was back in the area again, following Henderson’s path on the left side before cranking a left-footed drive that was deflected wide by USF netminder Mallori Lofton-Malachi, the reigning BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week.
Notre Dame continued its relentless pressure, winning three corner kicks in the first nine minutes of the contest. The Irish finally broke through at 19:23, as senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) drove a precision thru-ball to Henderson near the top of the box, and the Notre Dame rookie showed incredible patience, dribbling twice to her left to pull Lofton-Malachi out of position and then slip a left-footed shot low to the far right post for her fourth goal in the past two games.
Even after the goal, the Irish remained in the USF half of the field for much of the period, but their second goal was more a piece of individual brilliance than a concerted team build-up. After Lofton-Malachi and the Bulls defense cleared away some trouble in the area, the ball landed back out at Augustin’s feet some 38 feet from goal in the left channel. The second-year Irish midliner wasted little time, dribbling once and with a wave of her magician’s wand, uncorked a rising right-footed blast that eluded the USF ‘keeper and buried into far upper right 90 at 33:46.
Hanks got the chance to redeem herself from the earlier penalty-kick miss less than seven minutes into the second half, after sophomore forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) was hauled down in the area near the right short corner. This time, the three-time Irish All-American left nothing to chance, drilling her spot shot past a diving Lofton-Malachi for her 75th career goal (51:53).
Notre Dame will return to the pitch Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET) when it plays host to Marquette at Alumni Field. The start time is earlier than listed on all printed schedules, with the change made after the Irish men’s soccer game vs. Georgetown (scheduled for that 1 p.m. time slot) was postponed due to an outbreak of norovirus on the Georgetown campus.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has won both series matchups with South Florida, with the only other game coming almost exactly three years ago on Oct. 2, 2005 (a 4-0 Irish victory in Tampa) … Notre Dame’s offense has revved even higher in recent games, with the Irish scoring 16 goals in the past four outings … for the season, Notre Dame is now outscoring its opponents, 39-3 and has allowed just 23 shots on goal (2.09/game) … Henderson’s goal marked the seventh time this year (including all six home games) that the Irish have scored in the first 20 minutes of play … Notre Dame has scored in 36 consecutive games, dating back to last year’s opener against Michigan (a 0-0 tie), with the current 36-game run tying for the third-longest goal streak in school history (also Oct. 19, 1995-Dec. 6, 1996) … the Irish also added to their totals in a couple of other all-time categories — Notre Dame is 270-3-1 (.987) when scoring at least three goals in a game, and the Irish are 293-0-1 when taking a 2-0 lead, going unbeaten in the past 270 such contests … Hanks moved into 16th place in NCAA Division I history with 210 career points (75G-60A), passing North Carolina’s Robin Confer (209 from 1994-97); next up is the Notre Dame record holder, Jenny Streiffer, who had 211 points (70G-71A) from 1996-99 … Hanks also is 10-for-11 in her career on penalty kicks in the run of play, with Friday’s score marking the 21st time in her career she has scored on either a dead-ball situation or set piece (21G-21A) … Notre Dame improves to 79-6-3 (.915) all-time as the No. 1 team in the nation … the Irish also extend their home unbeaten streak against BIG EAST opponents to 81 games (80-0-1), while lengthening their school-record overall unbeaten streak against conference foes to 42 games (40-0-2) … at halftime of Friday’s game, Notre Dame welcomed back more than 40 women’s soccer alumnae, including Olympians Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98), Melissa Tancredi (’04) and Candace Chapman (’06), who are in town this weekend to help the program celebrate its 20th anniversary.