Oct. 13, 2002
NOTRE DANE, Ind. – With its postseason hopes possibly hanging in the balance, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team turned in a dominant second half en route to a 3-1 win over No. 8- ranked Connecticut, in Sunday afternoon action at Alumni Field.
Notre Dame (8-6-0) – which was playing its third of four straight games vs. top-20 opponents – owned a 9-0 shot edge and 4-0 corner-kick advantage in the second half, yielding final totals of 17-4 in shots and 5-2 in corners. Connecticut (11-2-1) saw its 10-game unbeaten streak come to an end, with senior forward Salla Ranta’s goal providing a short-lived lead for the Huskies in the late moments of the first half.
Sunday’s game was not part of the official BIG EAST schedule, with Notre Dame extending its home winning streak vs. BIG EAST teams to 43 games (dating back to a 1995 loss vs. the Huskies).
The Irish tied the game on the first goal of the season from freshman forward Katie Thorlakson before junior forward Amanda Guertin’s pinpoint corner kicks set up header goals by her classmates Randi Scheller and Melissa Tancredi.
Notre Dame had several lineup changes from Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to #20 Purdue, with senior Ashley Dryer returning to the lineup while sophomore Mary Boland also drew a start in the midfield. Boland’s insertion moved Thorlakson up to forward, with Tancredi shifting from forward to the central defense (in place of sophomore Gudrun Gunnarsdottir, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury late in the Purdue game). Sophomore Candace Chapman also returned to the defense (at left back), after playing at midfield and forward in recent games, with junior Kim Carpenter playing right back (she started in the midfield vs. Purdue).
Boland effectively neutralized UConn senior Sarah Popper, a key part of the Huskies’ two-forward system as an attacking midfielder. Sophomore forward Kristen Graczyk, UConn’s leading scorer, likewise was a non-factor with just one shot (off-goal) in the game – with Tancredi’s presence playing a large part in holding the Huskies at bay (she won all 18 of her heading duels).
Notre Dame continued to struggle with its first-half scoring (six first-half goals all season) but once again caught fire in the second half, with 23 second-half goals in 2002.
The Irish now own a 11-3-2 series edge vs. their BIG EAST rivals, with the lower-ranked team winning five times in the history of the series. Sunday’s win also helped Notre Dame avert its first three-game losing streak since 1989.
Freshman midfielder Kristi Lefebvre came off the bench to set up the game’s first goal, sending a thru-ball into the box. Ranta broke into the open and sent a low shot past charging ‘keeper (and Brookfield, Conn., native) Erika Bohn, with the low shot tucking inside the left post for her fifth goal of the season (40:25).
Early in the second half, Chapman and junior forwards Warner worked a give-and-go on the left flank, with Chapman then sending a lead pass into the penalty area. Thorlakson was running onto the play and deftly one-touched a 16-yard shot into the lower left corner for the equalizer (56:21).
Early in the second half, Boland nearly headed in a Guertin corner kick (Maria Yatrakis punched the ball over the crossbar). But on the ensuing rightside kick, Scheller found herself unmarked at the far left post and sent in an easy header for her fifth goal of the season and 15th of the midfielder’s career (69:25).
Warner then had a strong breakaway chance (she earlier had clanged a first-half shot off the crossbar) before another rightside corner produced the final goal. Tancredi – who also headed in a pair of Guertin CKs in the five-goal comeback at Maryland (5-2) – elevated above the UConn defense and sent a strong header under the crossbar for her third goal of the season (82:29).
#8 Connecticut 1 0 – 1
Notre Dame 0 3 – 3
UConn 1. Salla Ranta 5 (Kristi Lefebvre) 40:25; ND 1. Katie Thorlakson 1 (Candace Chapman, Amy Warner) 56:21; ND 2. Randi Scheller 5 (Amanda Guertin) 69:25; ND 3. Melissa Tancredi 3 (Guertin) 82:29.
Shots: UConn 4-0-4, ND 8-9-17.
Corner Kicks: UConn 2-0-2, ND 1-4-5.
Saves: UConn (Maria Yatrakis) 4, ND (Erika Bohn) 2.
Fouls: UConn 14, ND 14.
Offsides: UConn 1, ND 6.
Yellow Card: Randi Scheller, ND 2 (20:47).