Incoming freshmen Amanda Clark (back left) and Michele Weissenhofer (lower right) - who both are attending summer school - are looking to lead the Eclipse Select to a third straight national title.

Four Incoming Notre Dame Players Competing For National Titles With Club Soccer Teams

July 26, 2006

Four incoming Notre Dame women’s soccer players currently are competing with their respective club teams at the annual U.S. Youth Soccer Championships, being held in Des Moines, Iowa. There are only four teams remaining – one per USYS region – in each of the respective age groups but Sunday’s girls under-18 championship game is guaranteed to feature at least one of the incoming Notre Dame freshmen (and possibly as many as three).

561589.jpegspacer.gif spacer.gif

Chicago-area natives Michele Weissenhofer and Amanda Clark – who have been attending classes this summer at Notre Dame as part of the early-entry program – are two of the top players for the Eclipse Select team that breezed through the Illinois State Cup and Region II qualifying (racking up a 28-1 scoring edge in the five Midwest region games), as they seek a their third straight national title. Weissenhofer scored the first goal of the team’s opening game on Wednesday as the Eclipse jumped out to a 3-1 lead before settling for a 3-3 tie with the Dallas Texans, a perennial national power throughout the youth soccer ranks.

Weissenhofer and Clark’s future Notre Dame classmate Haley Ford is a defender for the Region III/South champion Texans while a fourth member of the incoming class, goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander, is competing with her San Diego Surf team (the Region IV/West champs). The Surf lost their opener, 1-0, to the New Jersey-based PDA Wildcats of Region I (East).

The round-robin format continues on Thursday and Friday, followed by a championship game between the top two finishers on Sunday morning, July 30, at the James Cownie Soccer Park (field 9; 8:45 a.m.). Thursday’s schedule includes 8:30 a.m. games between the Wildcats and Texans (field 1) and the Eclipse and Surf (field 3) while the 10:30 Friday matchups will pit the Texans vs. the Surf (field 1) and the Eclipse vs. the Wildcats (field 3).

Several current Notre Dame players previously were members of national championship club programs, including: Ashley Jones (So-Cal United; U-18, in ’04), Carrie Dew (San Diego Surf; U-16, in ’03) and 2003 Dallas Texans teammates Claire Gallerano and Kerri Hanks (in the U-18 division). Current Irish players also have played on USYS national runner-up teams three times in recent years, including Hanks with the 2005 Texans (U-19), Brittany Bock with the 2004 Windy City Pride (U-18) and South Bend native Susan Pinnick with the 2003 Carmel Commotion (U-17).


Haley Ford (right, in red) and the Dallas Texans are in the familiar position of competing for a national title.



Weissenhofer opened the scoring in the 3-3 tie with the Texans after playing a pass off one of her fellow forwards and displaying her strong left foot just outside the top of the 18-yard box. The ball sailed into the upper right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. The Eclipse then answered a 36th-minute goal from Michelle Nguyen with a pair of strikes early in the second half, from Lauren Switzer (48th) and Kayanne Gummersal (56th). The Illinois powerhouse was 14 minutes away from the opening win when Nguyen converted a 76th-minute penalty kick for a 3-2 game. An Eclipse player then drew her second yellow-card of the game and the Texans cashed in the 11-on-10 advantage, as Madeline Washington scored in the 89th minute to salvage the tie.

Wednesday’s other under-18 girls game was more defensive-minded, with the only goal coming when Elisabeth Redmond scored in the 62nd minute for the PDA Wildcats. Lysander and the Surf now likely will need at least a tie in Thursday’s game versus the Select in order to stay in the running for a spot in the finals.


Kelsey Lysander (green jersey) and her San Diego Surf teammates were all smiles after winning the Region IV title.



Here are some additional notes on each team and on the winning tradition involving Notre Dame players past and present (look for additional updates from the USYS nationals, including quotes from the incoming ND players, later in the week):

ECLIPSE SELECT – There are 48 total teams (24 boys, 24 girls) at the 2006 USYS nationals but the Eclipse Select girls U-18 squad and the Arsenal u-18 boys team (based in South California) are the only teams that are seeking a third straight national title … three other Eclipse girls teams (U-15, U-17, U-19) also have advanced to nationals while the U-14s were regional runner-up (the U-13 and U-16 Eclipse teams also advanced to regionals) … the Eclipse’s domination of the Region II under-18 field included 7-0 wins over Nebraska-based Sparta Velocity and Vardastars (from Michigan), a 4-1 quarterfinal vs. the KC Metro Dynamos (Kansas) and the 5-0 victories in the semifinals (vs. the Ohio Internationals) and the Carmel (Ind.) Cyclones … Courtney Rosen, yet another incoming Notre Dame freshman (the fifth and final member of the signee class), plays for the Internationals (they sent a combined U-17/U-18 team to the U-18 regional) … the Illinois State Cup saw two teams forfeit to the Eclipse, who then beat ASC United in the semifinals (5-1) and topped the NSA Flames in the 1-0 title game … Weissenhofer plays mostly forward in the Eclipse 4-3-3 formation while Clark usually serves as a defensive midfielder … both players have been attending summer school at Notre Dame and training back in Chicago during the weekends (Weissenhofer is taking theology and international relations while Clark also is completing a freshman-year theology class, plus an ecology and evolution course) … rising sophomore and fellow Chicago-area Brittany Bock similarly got a jumpstart on her studies during the summer of 2005 … Notre Dame’s 2006 roster is set to feature six top players from Chicago, including four from Naperville (Bock, Weissenhofer and Clark all starred for Neuqua Valley HS, rising senior defender Kim Lorenzen for Naperville central), plus senior-to-be midfielders Jen Buczkowski (Elk Grove HS) and Jill Krivacek (Geneva/Rosary HS.


Michele Weissenhofer opened the scoring in the Eclipse Select’s 3-3 tie with the Dallas Texans.



CHICAGO CHAMPS – All six of the above players have plenty of experience with winning national championships: Buczkowski, Bock, Lorenzen and Krivacek all with the Illinois team that won the 2003 Olympic Development Program (ODP) national title; Bock with the 2004 Windy City Pride (U-18); Buczkowski, Krivacek and Lorenzen with ND’s 2004 NCAA champs; Buczkowski with the U.S. Under-21 National Team that won the prestigious Nordic Cup international tournament; Bock with the F.C. Indiana team that win the 2005 WPSL and Open Cup titles; and of course Weissenhofer and Clark with their 2004 (U-16) and ’05 (U-17) Eclipse teams … Bock also played with the 2005 Illinois ODP team that was national runner-up while Buczkowski, Krivacek and Lorenzen were part of the 2004 Eclipse Select team that narrowly missed a spot in the USYS girls-19 national-title games (they placed 3rd).

218789.jpegspacer.gif spacer.gif

DALLAS TEXANS – This elite club sent six different teams to the USYS nationals (girls U-14, 15, 17 and 18; boys U-14 and 18) … Ford and her Texans Red 88 teammates opened strong at the Region III tournament in North Little Rock, Ark., posting a 5-1 win over Vestavia Attack (Ala.) before turning in a 5-0 shutout vs. Diadora Impact (Tenn.) … the Texans then tied CASL Spartan (N.C.) but moved on to the semifinals, where they routed their in-state rival TSC Challenge (the south Texas entry) in a 6-2 game before shutting out the Georgia-based Lazers Elite in a 3-0 final (for a 19-3 overall scoring edge at the regional) … the team’s key win in the North Texas state cup was a 3-1 victory over the crosstown Dallas Sting.

SAN DIEGO SURF – Lysander and her teammates left one weather extreme (95-degree beaches, due to the So-Cal heat wave) for another, as the Des Moines area was hit with big thunderstorms the night before play began … the Region IV tournament was preceded by the usual hard-fought battle in the So-Cal state cup, as the Surf edged the SoCal Blues in the 2-1 final (played in Rancho Capistrano) … the Surf opened the state cup with wins over the Claremont Stars (4-0) and SASC Strikers (4-2) before a 3-1 semifinal win over SoCal United … several teams from southern California have claimed USYS titles in recent years (including an earlier Surf team that featured ND’s Dew and the SoCal United team led by Jones) … the Surf’s march to nationals went through the Region IV tournament in Boise, Idaho, with a 3-1 win over CSA Copa (Colo.) and a 1-0 victory over the Hawaii-based HSC Bulls before losing to the Avalanche Black team from Utah on the final day of round-robin play (0-2) … the Surf still advanced to the semifinals and won a 3-2 battle with the FC Royals (Wash.) before avenging the loss to the Avalanche in a 2-1 title game.


Kelsey Lysander helped the Surf survive the So-Cal state cup before avenging a loss to the Utah-based Avalanche team in the Region IV tournament.



HOME OF CHAMPIONS – In addition to the various championships mentioned above, several other Notre Dame players have starred for top teams in recent years … Christie Shaner, Nikki Westfall and Kerry Inglis were teammates of Bock on the FC Indiana team that won the ’05 WPSL and Open Cup titles … recently-graduated standout Katie Thorlakson helped lead the Vancouver Whitecaps to the 2004 W-League championship … Dew and Jones were co-captains of the California-South team that was 2004 ODP national champs … Lauren Karas (Texas-North, ’04) and Lizzie Reed (N.J., ’03) both have played on ODP national runner-up teams while Thorlakson and fellow ND grad Candace Chapman were members of the Canadian team that finished second at the 2002 Under-19 World Championship … Shaner was a member of the 3rd-place team at the 2003 USYS nationals (F.C. Bucks Challenge, U-18), as was Becca Mendoza with the Dallas Sting in 2005 (U-18) … Hanks received the prestigious “Golden Boot” Award at the 2003 and ’05 USYS nationals, as did Bock at the ’03 ODP nationals (Karas was the “Golden Glove” winner at the ’04 ODP nationals).


It’s likely that at least one incoming Notre Dame women’s soccer player and her team will be hoisting the Francis Kelly Cup, as 2006 under-18 national champions.