July 9, 2006
Notre Dame rising junior forward Amanda Cinalli (Maple Heights, Ohio) is one of 18 players who have been named to the United States Under-21 National Team that will compete in Norway at the upcoming Nordic Cup, the world’s premier tournament for youth women’s soccer. Two of her Notre Dame teammates – midfielder Jen Buczkowski and forward Kerri Hanks – also received invitations to the team but elected not to compete in the 2006 Nordic Cup, after training with the U-21s throughout the past few months (Buczkowski was one of the top U.S. players at the 2005 Nordic Cup). Notre Dame joins Portland, UCLA and Stanford as the only schools to send active players to each of the past two Nordic Cups (former players from North Carolina and Virginia are among the overage exemptions on the 2006 squad).
Cinalli is one of three Notre Dame players who will be competing with top U.S. youth national teams in the upcoming months – as midfielder Brittany Bock and defender Carrie Dew currently are training and competing with the U.S. Under 20-National Team, in preparation for the Under-20 World Championship that will be played in Russia later this summer.
The Nordic Cup dates back to 1991 and is an eight-team tournament between teams comprised primarily of players 21 years of age or younger (plus a handful of under-24 exemptions). The weeklong tournament will be held July 16-22 in five small venues around Stavanger, Norway, in the southwestern part of the country. The USA’s eight Nordic Cup titles (all since 1997) include winning each of the past seven tournaments, defeating Sweden three times while topping both Germany and Norway twice in title games. The U.S. lost to Norway in the 1998 Nordic Cup final.
The U.S. team will train on the east coast before leaving on July 11 for Norway, which will be hosting its third Nordic Cup and first since 2001. Held in Northern Europe every summer, the Nordic Cup is the top competition in the world for U-21 women and is the focus of the USA’s oldest youth national team during its six-month run-up to the prestigious tournament.
Cinalli previously played on the youth national-team level during her senior year of high school, as a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team that included her future Notre Dame teammate Susan Pinnick. Eight previous Notre Dame players – Kate Sobrero, Jen Grubb, Jenny Streiffer, LaKeysia Beene, Meotis Erikson, Candace Chapman, Buczkowski and Erika Bohn – have combined to play in the Nordic Cup 16 times.
Amanda Cinalli – shown sending home a goal in the 2005 win over Gonzaga – turned in a sophomore season (10 goals, 17 assists) that would have placed her among the scoring leaders for most teams in the nation (photo by Pete LaFleur).
With two seasons at Notre Dame already in the books, Cinalli is on pace to finish as one of the top forwards in the program’s prestigious history. Despite being overshadowed in 2005 by the All-America duo of Hanks and Katie Thorlakson (who both finished the season with 71 points, two shy of the ND record), Cinalli still finished as the third-leading scorer among all players in the BIG EAST Conference (37 points; 10 goals, 17 assists) and finished fifth among the nation’s assist leaders while earning third team all-BIG EAST honors. Her four gamewinning goals in the 2005 season included scores versus top-25 teams Florida and Connecticut (in the BIG EAST title game) while her goal and assist helped send the Irish past Yale in the NCAA round-of-16. She also scored twice to headline the 3-0 win over the Mexican National Team that capped the team’s highly-successful 2006 spring season.
Cinalli has totaled 62 points (20G-22A, 8 GWG) in 52 career games with Notre Dame, making 45 starts while already becoming the 21st Irish player to reach 20 goals and 20 assists in her career. As a Freshman All-American and first team all-BIG EAST performer in 2004, Cinalli totaled 10G-5A with key gamewinners in 1-0 road wins over UConn and Villanova and the 3-1 win over Portland in the ’04 NCAA quarterfinals. The former high school All-American became the first Notre Dame freshman to score the team’s first goal of a season and the fourth ND player ever to score the first two goals of a season for the Irish.
Age eligible players for the 2006 Nordic Cup are those born on or after Jan. 1, 1985. The U.S. also had the option of including five “over-age” players on the team (those born on or after Jan. 1, 1982) and the team includes five such players: former UNC defender Kendall Fletcher, former Virginia midfielders Sarah Huffman and Noelle Keselica, former Penn State forward Tiffany Weimer and Colorado rising senior forward Katie Griffin.
Cinalli and UCLA’s Danesha Adams – who were on opposing sides during the 2004 NCAA Championship game – and the youngest members of the USA’s forward unit for the 2006 Nordic Cup. In addition to the players mentioned above, the other midfielders include: UCLA’s Bristyn Davis, Penn State’s Sheree Gray, Boston College’s Jennifer Mauerer, Duke Rebecaa Moros and Portland’s Angie Woznuk.
Some of the midfielders also could see time in the back, with the five defenders on the roster including Fletcher, Stanford’s Rachel Buehler, UConn’s Brittany Taylor, Florida State’s India Trotter and incoming UCLA freshman Lauren Wilmoth. UCLA’s Val Henderson and Portland’s Cori Alexander comprise the goalkeeper duo for the 2006 Nordic Cup squad.
Amanda Cinalli follows 2005 Nordic Cup teammates Jen Buczkowski and Erika Bohn in making Notre Dame one of just four teams that have placed active players on each of the past two U.S. Nordic Cup squads (photo by Pete LaFleur).
The inclusion of Cinalli and Taylor on the final roster makes the BIG EAST one of three conferences with players from multiple teams on the 2006 Nordic Cup roster, which also includes players from five ACC teams and two Pac-10 squads (plus players from one WCC team, one Big 10 team and one Big 12 team).
The roster includes just three returners – Buehler, Fletcher and Huffman – from the 2005 Nordic Cup squad, with Huffman set to appear in her third Nordic Cup while Gray played on the 2003 Nordic Cup squad. Woznuk and Trotter have been training this summer with the full Women’s National Team while Buehler and Woznuk were teammates of Hanks on the U.S. teams that competed at the 2002 and 2004 Under-19 Women’s World Championships. The team also includes two players (Adams and Henderson) who have been training alongside Bock and Dew with the U.S. Under-20 squad.
The USA will face a tough challenge in Group A, taking on Denmark, Iceland and the host team Norway. Group B features England, Sweden, Germany and Finland. The top two finishers in each group will cross over to play for the championship on July 22, while the two second-place finishers will play in the third-place game, etc. The USA opens the tournament against Denmark on Sunday, July 16, in Randaberg, and then faces Iceland on July 18, in Algard. The U.S. will finish first-round play with a clash against Norway on July 20, in Sandnes. All four placement matches are set for July 22.
Seven previous Notre Dame players have competed with the U.S. at the Nordic Cup (an under-20 event prior to 1999): defenders Sobrero and Grubb, forwards Streiffer and Erikson, midfielder Buczkowski and goalkeeper Beene and Bohn. Grubb scored the game-winning goal in sudden-death overtime to defeat Germany in the bronze medal game of the ’96 Nordic Cup. She then went on to start every game for the victorious U.S. squad at the ’97, ’98 and ’99 Nordic Cups, playing every minute of the ’98 and ’99 tournaments (while playing as both a defender and midfielder).
Erikson was the youngest member of the 1997 Nordic Cup team that also included Grubb, Streiffer, Beene and Sobrero (an overage member of the ’97 team who also was a member of the ’94 Nordic Cup squad). Notre Dame players comprised five of the 16 players on the ’97 Nordic Cup team that won the title in Denmark, with Streiffer scoring the sudden-death gamewinner in the final game vs. Norway.
Streiffer (who started all four games) then joined Grubb and Beene as key regulars on the ’98 Nordic Cup team that came up shy of winning the title but they helped bring home the trophy again in ’99, with Streiffer’s team-leading seven points (3 goals, 1 assist) including the goal that tied Norway with five minutes left in regulation (the U.S. won 2-1 in overtime).
Buczkowski was one of three U.S. players who logged all 360 minutes at the 2005 Nordic Cup, as her possession skills helped team USA roll up a 15-2 scoring edge while dominating in shots (99-17), shots on goal (43-9) and corner kicks (23-6). Bohn served as the backup `keeper on the 2005 team, which posted wins over Iceland (4-0), Denmark (4-0) and Germany (3-1) before beating Norway in the 4-1 title game.
The versatile Chapman played for Canada at the 2001 Nordic Cup and has starred as a forward, midfielder and defender throughout her soccer career.
Amanda Cinalli (center) has made a name for herself at Notre Dame due to both her clutch goalscoring and a tremendous caring spirit for those around her (photo by Matt Cashore).
CINALLI ALSO HONORED WITH NOTRE DAME’S MIKE RUSSO AWARD – The 2006 spring semester also saw Cinalli receive a prestigious honor from the Notre Dame Alumni Association, as the third recipient of the Mike Russo Award. The award recognizes exemplary qualities in Notre Dame students that epitomize the fine character of Russo, who was a student at Notre Dame during the 1989-90 academic year. A resident of Flanner Hall, Russo was a walk-on goaltender for the Irish hockey team but also pursued with a passion baseball and other sports. He is remembered as an inspiration as a student-athlete and an avid sports fan. Russo died in May 1990 from injuries sustained in a traffic accident that occurred on the evening he returned home to St. Louis after completing his freshman year at Notre Dame. His enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, caring nature and great sense of humor is remembered by all who knew him. Previous recipients of the Russo Award include John Coyle (’07) in 2005 and Benjamin Gunty (’08) in 2006.
Cinalli was presented the Russo Award in recognition of leading a life of spiritual strength that comforts and inspires those she encounters. Her exemplary personal character is visible throughout her residence hall, classrooms and community service activities. A resident of Cavanaugh Hall, Cinalli is pursuing a major in pre-professional studies. While balancing her position on the soccer team with her academic obligations, she also reaches out beyond her own endeavors in a manner that embodies her caring nature.
Her various activities include being involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in youth activities at Granger Community Church and at the Robinson Community Learning Center. She is a volunteer at Memorial Hospital with the HUGS program, where she entertains the children and otherwise assists doctors and nurses. While at home in Maple Heights, Ohio, Cinalli volunteers at a soup kitchen for the homeless.
“Amanda is a person of very high moral standard and her character is unquestioned,” said Notre Dame women’s soccer head coach Randy Waldrum. “She is extremely loyal, highly committed to the team and coaches, and – more importantly – to her friends and family. She is often the person that is keeping our players grounded. Amanda is a very caring and compassionate person. She will go out of her way to help anyone in need.”
COMMMENTS FROM U.S. U-21 HEAD COACH JILLIAN ELLIS – “I think we’ve done a good job of getting the team some international games, so we’ve exposed them to that type of play. At the end of the day, I am hoping they learn as they go, because in this tournament you must start fast out of the gate. There is a really good energy on this team, they are excited to play for their country and to represent the USA in a prestigious tournament. … Our work ethic will have to be very good. We will have to work very hard in every game as we are not going to roll over any of these teams. The strength of this team is how they play together. They are all very good players but there are no superstars, so it will be very much a collective effort. Team play is what is going to win this tournament for us. … We met Norway last year in the final and they were a young team so they will have a lot of their top players returning. As the host nation, they will have some good support as well. All the teams in our group are very strong and very physical so we are going to have to match up with that. Denmark gave us a great game last year, I believe it was 0-0 at halftime, so we will have to play very well to get out of our group. When you have to win the group to get to the championship game, goals help a lot, so we have to score and score early. … We have a lot of versatility in this team as well … and can put together some different looks, and with 18 players, that’s a nice option to have. I think it’s great getting these kids international experience, which is only going to help our national teams program overall.”
2006 U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team Nordic Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Val Henderson (UCLA; Orinda, CA), Cori Alexander (Portland; Martinez, CA)
DEFENDERS (5): Rachel Buehler (Stanford; Del Mar, CA), Kendall Fletcher (UNC; Cary, NC), Brittany Taylor (UConn; Campbell Hall, NY), India Trotter (Florida State; Plantation, FL), Lauren Wilmoth (UCLA; Garland, TX)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Bristyn Davis (UCLA; Locust Valley, NY), Sheree Gray (Penn State; Toms River, NJ), Sarah Huffman (Virginia; Flower Mound, TX), Noelle Keselica (Virginia; Gaithersburg, MD), Jennifer Maurer (Boston College; East Long Meadow, MA), Rebecca Moros (Duke; Larchmont, NY), Angie Woznuk (Portland; El Cajon, CA)
FORWARDS (4): Danesha Adams (UCLA; Shaker Hts, OH), Amanda Cinalli (Notre Dame; Maple Hts, OH), Katie Griffin (Colorado; Scottsdale, AZ), Tiffany Weimer (Penn State; North Haven, CT).
Team Staff: head coach Jillian Ellis; assistant coaches Patricia Taliaffero and Joe Mallia; team doctor Dr. Daryl Rosenbaum; athletic trainer Gregory Banks; massage therapist Jarrod Fritz; equipment coordinator Joshua Field; team coordinator Brittany Braun
U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team 2006 Nordic Cup Schedule (July 16-22)
July 16 – USA vs. Denmark (in Randaberg)
July 18 – USA vs. Iceland (in Algard)
July 20 – USA vs. Norway (in Sandnes)
July 22 – Placement Match (TBD)
Group A – Sweden, Norway, Finland and England
Group B – USA, Germany, Denmark and Iceland
Sunday, July 16 – USA vs. Denmark … Norway vs. Iceland … Sweden vs. Germany … Finland vs. England
Tuesday, July 18 – Iceland vs. USA … Denmark vs. Norway … England vs. Sweden … German vs. Finland
Thursday, July 20 – Norway vs. USA … Denmark vs. Iceland … Finland vs. Sweden … England vs. Germany
Saturday, July 22 – 7th-Place Match … 5th-Place Match … 3rd-Place Match … Championship Game