Oct. 24, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) turned in her third consecutive multi-point game and fifth in the past six games, registering a goal and an assist as top-ranked Notre Dame stretched its season-opening win streak to 17 games with a 3-1 victory over No. 24/18 Rutgers on a rainy and cold Friday night at Alumni Field. The 17-0-0 start is the best in the program’s 21 seasons of existence, topping the 16-0-0 debut by the 2000 Irish squad, head coach Randy Waldrum’s second at Notre Dame.
Hanks also added yet another school record to her overflowing collection, scoring a goal for the 11th consecutive game (her 18th of the season, tying for the NCAA lead) to break Amanda Guertin’s seven-year-old mark and move into a tie with Hartford’s Maria Kun for the fifth-longest goalscoring run in NCAA Division I history. What’s more, the Irish notched their sixth win in as many tries over a ranked opponent this season, outscoring those six Top 25 teams by a combined 15-4 margin.
Senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) got Notre Dame going with her sixth goal of the season off a Hanks’ assist in the 24th minute. Freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) then doubled the Irish lead less than four minutes into the second half, firing home a point-blank shot for her 13th goal of the year after a pinpoint cross-field pass from sophomore defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard). Hanks iced the win in the 82nd minute with an unassisted goal after sophomore midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) had her initial shot saved and the rebound caromed to Hanks in the goal mouth.
Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) went all the way for Notre Dame, making three saves to record the victory. As a team, the Irish outshot the Scarlet Knights, 24-13, including a 9-4 margin in shots on goal. The teams also took three corner kicks apiece, with Notre Dame committing 11 fouls to six for RU.
“This was a good effort and a good result against a very talented Rutgers team,” Waldrum said. “We’ve faced lots of different challenges this season and tonight we saw a couple more with the combination of a strong defensive opponent and the wet turf. We handled ourselves well and did some nice things on offense to create several scoring opportunities, which our front-line players finish efficiently. To get off to the kind of start we have this season requires consistency and focus, and I thought we showed both of those qualities for a good portion of tonight’s game.”
After a persistent rain drenched South Bend during the day, it took a minor miracle but the skies dried just moments before kickoff. Then, it didn’t take long for Notre Dame (17-0-0, 10-0-0 BIG EAST) to begin pressuring the Rutgers defense, as Bock found a streaking Hanks on the left flank in the sixth minute, but the veteran Irish forward was stoned by RU goalkeeper Erin Guthrie from 10 yards out. Bock took her own turn on goal five minutes later, as Hanks served a ball into the area that Bock ran diagonally and slid to poke on frame, but Guthrie was there to smother out the danger.
Persistence paid off for Notre Dame’s All-America tandem, as the two hard workers finally clicked at 21:20, as Hanks collected the ball in the right channel 40 yards from goal and slipped a precision through-ball to Bock, who was headed full-steam into the penalty box. Guthrie frantically charged off her line to cut down the angle, but Bock made no mistake, driving a low shot just inside the left post to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. It was the third consecutive goal in which the pair connected on a score, after Bock assisted on both of Hanks’ goals last Sunday at Connecticut.
Rutgers (11-5-1, 6-3-1) created its best chances of the first half in the final 15 minutes of the period, earning a pair of corner kicks and getting its first (and only) shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes when Ashley Jones squeezed off a shot from distance that skipped right to Lysander at 35:57.
After taking the precarious 1-0 lead into halftime, Notre Dame quickly worked to add to the margin and the effort paid off in the 49th minute. Scheidler began the sequence with a nifty run down the right flank before lofting a cross over the RU defense to the left post, where Henderson was camped out. The Irish rookie made one swift dribble to her right to create a better shooting angle before scoring on a low shot past a scrambling Guthrie (48:43).
Hanks then was poised to cap matters less than 90 seconds later, finding herself in alone against Guthrie on the doorstep, but the Scarlet Knights’ netminder came up with a brilliant kick save from point-blank range to preserve the 2-0 margin (50:20).
That stop seemed to energize Rutgers, or more specifically, midfielder Gina DeMaio, who fired three shots and served up a corner kick in a span of less than four minutes to help switch momentum in the Knights’ favor. DeMaio also wound up factoring in RU’s goal as well, driving a long free kick from 45 yards out on the left wing, with Lysander rising up to seemingly punch the ball clear. However, Kristen Edmonds trapped the exiting ball at the top of the box and drilled a low shot back inside the far right post before Lysander and the Irish defense could recover (64:28).
Rutgers stepped up its bid to draw even with a couple of shots, including one on goal, during the ensuing six minutes. Yet, Notre Dame weathered the emotional tide and began to reassert itself offensively, with Hanks and Bock combining for three shots. The Irish then got the break they were looking for, coming up on the counterattack with Augustin wriggling free on the right side of the box and cracking a low liner that Guthrie paddled away, but right to Hanks, who expertly deposited the loose change into the empty net at 81:42.
The Irish will close out the 2008 regular season Sunday with a 1 p.m. (ET) game against Seton Hall at Alumni Field. Prior to the game, Notre Dame will honor its six senior players and manager Troy Sustich, all of whom will be participating in their final regular-season home game at Alumni Field.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame’s 17-game winning streak matches the second-longest run in school history, and longest since a similar 17-game success string from Sept. 21-Nov. 29, 1997; the school record stands at 24 games from Oct. 19, 1995-Oct. 11, 1996 … the Irish stretched their regular-season winning streak to a school-record 27 games (dating back to Sept. 29, 2007), while their 27-game regular-season unbeaten string ties for fourth-best in school history, matching the 25-0-2 run from Oct. 2, 2005-Sept. 2, 2007; the school record for regular-season unbeaten streak is 32 games (30-0-2) from Oct. 17, 1993-Oct. 1, 1995 … Notre Dame extended its unbeaten run against BIG EAST Conference opponents to 48 games (46-0-2), third-longest in NCAA Division I history, dating back to a 4-1 loss at Marquette on Sept. 30, 2005; Florida is second on that list with a 50-game unbeaten run against Southeastern Conference foes from Sept. 26, 1997-Oct. 14, 2001, while North Carolina holds the Division I record with a 55-game unbeaten streak against conference opposition (Oct. 23, 1994-Sept. 1, 2000) … the Irish have a 13-year, 83-game home unbeaten streak (82-0-1) against BIG EAST teams, with Rutgers the only team not to lose to Notre Dame at Alumni Field since 1995 (a 0-0 tie in 2004) … Notre Dame is 33-1-1 since opening last season with a 3-4-1 record and briefly falling out of some of the national polls … the Irish narrowly missed scoring inside the first 20 minutes of play for the 12th time in 17 games this season, needing 21:20 to find the back of the net against Rutgers … Hanks not only stretched her goalscoring streak to 11 games (six short of the Division I record co-held by Penn State’s Tiffany Weimer and Portland’s Christine Sinclair), but she also scored a point for the 13th consecutive game, drawing within one of Katie Thorlakson’s school record set in 2005 … Hanks moved into 14th place on the Division I goalscoring list with 82 tallies, drawing even with Penn State’s Christie Welsh … Hanks took over sole possession of eighth place on the Division I career points chart with 228 points (82G-64A), passing former U.S. National Team player and coach April Heinrichs, who amassed 225 points at North Carolina from 19983-86; up next for Hanks is current U.S. National Team forward Abby Wambach, who logged 242 points at Florida from 1998-2001 … Hanks now is part of a five-way tie atop the current NCAA Division I goalscoring charts, joining Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Sarah Hagen, Georgia State’s Kay Harbrueger, Michigan State’s Laura Heyboer and North Carolina’s Casey Nogueira; Heyboer continues to lead the tight points race with 44 (18G-8A), with Harbrueger one point back (18G-7A), and Hanks tied with Nogueira for third place at 42 points (both with 18G-6A) … Henderson’s 13 goals as a freshman ties for 10th-most in school history, with the current Irish squad now boasting four players who scored at least a dozen goals during the rookie campaigns (Hanks – 28 and Bock – 12 in 2005; Michele Weissenhofer – 18 in 2006); Weissenhofer went on to be named the Soccer America National Freshman of the Year, while Hanks was an NSCAA second-team All-America selection … Henderson’s goals-per-90 minutes total continues to be astonishing, with the speedy Texan not even averaging a full half of soccer (44.4 minutes per game); at her current scoring pace, if Henderson averaged a full 90 minutes, she would have better than 26 goals this season (far exceeding the output of the aforementioned national co-leaders) — Hanks, who averages just over 65 minutes a night, wouldn’t be far behind Henderson’s 90-minute production, projecting to have 25 goals if she went the distance on a nightly basis … just like last season, Bock is getting hot down the stretch after a slow start; last year she scored 14 of her team-high 16 goals in the final 16 games of the season after scoring twice in the first 10 games; this year, she has potted five goals in the past six games after scoring once in the first 11 outings (albeit a critical goal, the gamewinner in the 1-0 victory at No. 3/2 North Carolina on Sept. 5) … Notre Dame has scored three-plus goals in nine of its last 10 games, only failing to hit that mark in a 2-0 win at Connecticut last Sunday; the Irish are 275-3-1 all-time when scoring three goals, with a 177-1 mark since Oct. 6, 1995 … Notre Dame is 297-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead and unbeaten in the past 274 such contests … Notre Dame has scored in 42 consecutive games, the third-longest run in school history (longest since a 49-game string from Oct. 24, 2004-Oct. 8, 2006) … in an ironic twist, the past four Irish wins over ranked opponents all have come by the same 3-1 score (vs. No. 12/11 Duke, at No. 17/16 Penn State, at No. 17/16 Georgetown and vs. No. 24/18 Rutgers) … Hanks and Bock remain the leading candidates for the 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, with fans able to vote for both of the Irish standouts on a daily basis by visiting the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award web site.