Aug. 17, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Five different Notre Dame players combined in scoring the team’s five goals, as the 5th-ranked Irish women’s soccer team completed its preseason exhibition schedule with Wednesday afternoon’s 5-0 victory over visiting Xavier. Junior right back Ashley Jones and freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer each added an assist to their goals in the game, as the Irish now take an eight-day break from competition before returning to Alumni Field for the regular-season opener on Aug. 26 versus Iowa State.
Notre Dame entered the game with just 16 of 27 players available, as various injuries sidelined four veterans and five of the newcomers while sophomores Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew are prepping for the Under-20 World Championship that starts tomorrow (Aug. 18) in Russia. The most noteworthy absences included senior center back and team captain Kim Lorenzen, sophomore All-America forward Kerri Hanks and freshman midfielder Courtney Rosen.
Three of the five goals came via set pieces (two corner-kick headers, one direct kick), just one day after the Irish had converted a CK header and double-header goal to account for two of the scores in the 3-0 win over 8th-ranked Virginia. the sharpshooting Irish cashed in 8-of-13 shots on goal during the pair of exhibitions while limiting both teams to a single shot on goal and three combined corner kicks (ND had five CKs in each game).
The game marked a homecoming for Xavier head coach Alvin Alexander, who served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame during the 2003 and ’04 NCAA-title season.
Three seniors members of the Notre Dame team – midfielders Jen Buczkowski and Jill Krivacek and central back Christie Shaner – again played leading roles in the win, with Shaner scoring an early header goal, Buczkowski serving a corner kick that led to Amanda Cinalli’s flying header score, and Krivacek combining with Buczkowski to control the run of play in the middle third.
Notre Dame’s senior class now has played a total of 106 games with the Irish, spanning the fall preseason (9-0-1), the fall regular season (67-7-2) and the spring season (17-1-2). That all adds up to a .901 overall winning percentage (93-8-5), with the losses coming to the likes of Portland, Santa Clara, Connecticut, Boston College, Marquette, Michigan (2) and the Mexican National Team. The five total ties during the career of the senior class have come versus Florida, Stanford, Rutgers, Mexico and a Brazilian semi-pro team.
The home exhibition game with Xavier was quite a rarity for the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, as the previous seven seasons of the Randy Waldrum era (’99-’05) had featured just one exhibition game at Alumni Field (a 2001 win over Iowa). The Irish did not play any preseason games in 1999 of 2003 and went to Brazil during the 2000 and 2004 preseasons. The 2001 team also played an exhibition at Wisconsin-Milwaukee while the ’02 team played a pair of preseason games in nearby Fort Wayne (vs. UNC and Kentucky). Most recently, the 2005 team played exhibition games on the road at Butler and in Fort Wayne (vs. Virginia), with ND and UVa then meeting earlier this week in Traverse City, Mich.
The only non-victory for the senior class in fall exhibitions was the first of their career, a 1-1 game with the talented Santa Una club team in Brazil. The only non-wins in the spring have been a loss (’04) and tie (’05) versus Mexico, plus a tie with Florida in the spring of ’04. Finally, the seniors have lost just three regular-season fall games (vs. Michigan in ’03, Santa Clara in `05 and Marquette in ’05), plus BIG EAST Tournament losses to Boston College (’03) and UConn (’04) and NCAA Tournament losses to Michigan (’03, second round) and Portland (’05, quarterfinals).
Notre Dame’s top corner-kick specialists in the past few years (Katie Thorlakson and Annie Schefter) were among the graduation losses from the 2005 team but Jones appears to be the heir apparent in that department, with her corner-kick service leading to the opening goals in both games this week (by Krivacek vs. UVa and Shaner vs. Xavier). Wednesday’s goal came in the 16th minute, as Jones sent a dipping, far-post strike from the right flag. Shaner snapped a header that bounced off the back of a defender and carried into the center of the goal for the early lead (16:50).
Junior forward Susan Pinnick followed with her second goal of the preseason, converting an easy tap-in after Weissenhofer had battled her way free near the left endline (33:51).
Jones scored for the 3-0 cushion early in the second half, after striking a 40-yard direct kick from the left flank. The ball was headed for the far post and `keeper Kelly Farrell misplayed the bounce, with the ball advancing into the right sidenetting (59:13).
The Irish were playing without their top corner-kick takers (Jones and Weissenhofer) six minutes later so Buczkowski trotted to the rightside flag and promptly sent a sharp ball towards the near post. Cinalli came sprinting into the six-yard area and the junior forward soared above the defense before cracking her header into the near side of the goal (65:13).
Sophomore midfielder Becca Mendoza set up the final goal just moments before the game-ending whistle, sending a pass down the center of the field that sprung Weissenhofer for a chip over the `keeper (89:40).
Freshman left back Haley Ford, fresh off winning a national title with her club team, is a player who is well-known by Xavier head coach Alvin Alexander, due to his years involved with youth soccer in Midland and Dallas, Texas (see Alexander quotes below; photo by Matt Cashore).
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM ND HEAD COACH Randy Waldrum – “Several of the freshmen have been very impressive so far and appear capable of stepping right in. As far as the veterans go, Ashley Jones has been real steady and now it’s her junior year and she keeps doing all the little things well. She may be our most consistent player in the preseason so far. And that’s not even talking about our marquee kids like Buczkowski, Cinalli and Krivacek – those kids, of course, are great. I think when we get all the pieces together and get healthy, it’s going to be a nice team.
“You don’t typically like to play on back-to-back days but we are going to have to do it next week and we wanted the team to experience it. You could see that it takes a lot out of them. We were a little wearier today and didn’t quite have the same energy. We are going to try to work on that rhythm.
“We’ve loved having Amanda Cinalli on this team from day-one as a freshman, when she stepped in and had an impact. What you are seeing now is her continuing to evolve into being that type of player that can help carry the team. Her experience of going to Norway for the Nordic Cup only boosted her confidence. All through preseason, she has been a notch about because physically she is well prepared and is playing with that confidence. I think she is ready to take on more of that give-me-the-ball type of mentality instead of just being a support type payer. I think her production will be up.
“We will give them a couple days off now and let them get their legs back. we’ve had a pretty intense preseason and they’ve been great with their energy level. By the time we get to next week, we should have Hanks back and have Kimmy Lorenzen back, as well as Courtney Rosen, If we can just hold the fort down until we get Dew and Bock back from the national team, that will just add two more great players to the depth.
“I think the whole thing with our senior class and the work ethic and leadership you see from them is that they realize there are no guarantees. We always expect top be in the final four, at least, and they realized last year that you can’t take anything for granted. They recognize this is their last shot at it and they are really committed to getting everything right to give us a chance to win at the end.”
POSTGAME COMMENTS FROM XAVIER HEAD COACH Alvin Alexander – “We have been able to step our team up and bring in the type of players that can play at a higher level and have the opportunity like this so early in the season to play such a great Notre Dame team who already look like they are in full form. It helped give our girls some confidence and motivation for getting better.
“What I learned from Randy is that he is so professional and just a great coach. I learned from him that you don’t go into any game without overturning every stone to do your very best. I had the chance to learn from one of the most elite coaches in the country and that sets you up for success and how to look at your team in a professional way.
“Every time I come back here, it is such a special place. You hear that from everybody, even our goalkeeper’s mom cam up to me and said what a special place this is. My fond memories are being part of such an awesome program. Just being here with all of the coaches and all of the support people who helped us meet our goals that we achieved. And it’s great to come back and see everybody.
“Our athletic director at Xavier, Mike Bobinski, was a baseball player here at Notre Dame and it’s great when you talk to Mike. His mindset is that everything we do needs to be at the highest quality, which was everything Id always heard being here with Randy. when he came into the room and started talking, I felt like I was back at Notre Dame. He is trying to being that professionalism and quality to Xavier that he knows from here.
“The women’s basketball coach at Xavier, Kevin McGuff, and I took a similar path as part of national championship staffs at Notre Dame before going to Xavier. I go in and talk to him quite often and visit with him. He’s a great guy and it always helps having that association with the greatness of Notre Dame. One thing I’ve learned from going around the country is that you never lose that relationship with being a Notre Dame staff member.
“When I look at our team this year, I feel we can win the Atlantic-10 Conference. We just need to have better luck with our health and just keep going and keep learning.
“I think Haley Ford is going to be big-time at Notre Dame. I’ve saw her play a lot when she was growing up in Texas. When you look at the history of the type of kids that Randy and his staff have brought in, I see Haley being part of that group that will achieve some huge things in her career. When I was with the Black Magic in Midland, Texas, Haley Ford was one of those little kids in the group and you never knew she was going to turn out to be such a great player. But you could see some talent in her back then. She has made so many commutes from Midland to Dallas just to play soccer and is such a great student. At the end of the day, if you take all those commutes it equals one thing: ending up at a great place like Notre Dame. That’s the type of players that typically get involved with this school. Those commutes for her were some long days but it has paid off for her in the long run. She is truly a great player.
“When the current seniors at Notre Dame came in as freshman back in 2003, you could just see something special was going to happen with them. You could see how special they were and then in ’04 it really began to show through, I believe now, watching them play today, this is a preseason game and they look in full form even with some top players not even playing. I feel like we just played the team that probably will be the new national champion. I just believe that randy is that type of coach and he has great assistants to help him with the program. Of all years for me to pick Notre Dame, with this senior group they have – you can see the maturity and they are just so good. I certainly will be pulling for them down the road.”
Xavier 0 0 – 0
#5 Notre Dame 2 3 – 5
ND 1. Christie Shaner (Ashley Jones) 16:50; ND 2. Susan Pinnick (Michele Weissenhofer) 33:51; ND 3. Jones (-) 59:13; ND 4. Amanda Cinalli (Jen Buczkowski) 65:13; ND 5. Weissenhofer (Becca Mendoza) 89:40.
Shots: XAV 2-3 – 5, ND 7-8 – 15
Corner Kicks: XAV 0-2 – 2, ND 3-4 – 5
Saves: XAV 1-3 – 4 (Kelly Farrell), ND 1-0 – 1 (Kelsey Lysander 1,
Lauren Karas 0)
Fouls: XAV 14-4 – 18, ND 8-7 – 15
Offside: XAV 0, ND 2
Yellow Card: Angela Scarlato (XAV)