April 27, 2009
CHICAGO – Rising sophomore Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored twice, while senior to-be Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) and rising junior Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) added single tallies as the Notre Dame women’s soccer team closed out its spring season with a convincing 4-0 win over Illinois on Sunday afternoon at the inaugural KICKS Against Breast Cancer Tournament inside Soldier Field, the historic lakefront home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears.
The contest was the finale in a day-long seven-match invitational designed to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. Nearly every match was shortened to 50 minutes in length (due to an hour-long delay in the morning caused by a passing thunderstorm), although the Irish match against Illinois was extended to 60 minutes.
Henderson got the Irish on the board at the 5:25 mark, as rising junior Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) lofted a pass over the Illinois back line, with the speedy Henderson running on to the lead pass at the top of the penalty area and deftly chipping the on-rushing Illini goalkeeper, Alexandra Kapicka.
With exactly 10 minutes gone, Rosen doubled the Notre Dame lead, collecting the ball in the right channel and unleashing a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out that buried in the upper left 90 out of the reach of a diving Kapicka.
The Irish kept up the pressure in the closing stages of the first half, as rising senior Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) followed Rosen’s model with a similar left-footed blast from distance at virtually the same spot on the field, but this time, her bid was denied by the right post. The powerful high-scoring veteran would squeeze off another long-range shot in the second half from 35 yards away, with Kapicka having to react quickly to parry the laser over the bar.
Henderson found the back of the net again at 41:50, as junior-to-be Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy) slipped a thru-ball on the right side to the Irish striker. Henderson then cut back against the grain, pulling both Kapicka and another defender out of position before calmly toe-poking home a right-footed shot from the left side of the six-yard box. The Henderson-Fowlkes connection should come as no surprise, with the tandem recently returning from a week-long sojourn with the United States U-23 Women’s National Team, which won three college exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest from April 11-19 (Oregon State 3-1; Washington 2-1; Portland 3-2).
Fowlkes also had a hand in the final Notre Dame goal at 50:45. Rising sophomore Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) found room down the left side on an overlapping run, before dropping off a pass to Fowlkes in the channel. In turn, Fowlkes switched the point of the attack with a nifty cross-field pass to rising junior Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard), who was motoring down the right flank. She drove to the edge of the area, then whipped a low cross into the box, where Iantorno knifed in front of her defender and nodded the ball on goal. Kapicka made a reflex save on the initial shot, but the ball caromed right back to Iantorno, who again got her head on the sphere and found pay dirt with an unconventional “double header” goal.
“I was pleased with our effort against a very good Illinois team,” Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We saw some very positive things out there, things that we can build upon heading into the start of next season.”
Earlier in the day, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois played to a scoreless draw. The Irish, who elected to rest the majority of their regulars in preparation for their afternoon match with 2008 NCAA round-of-16 participant Illinois, had two strong scoring chances in the first half, with Iantorno’s shot being cleared off the line in the fifth minute, and rising senior Rachel VanderGenugten (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) nearly beating an offside trap for a goal in the 11th minute. Notre Dame also earned three second-half corner kicks, but NIU held firm to preserve the tie.
Notre Dame finishes its spring 2009 season with a 3-1-1 record, earning wins over three Big Ten Conference opponents — Michigan State (2-0), Iowa (2-1) and Illinois (4-0). The only Irish loss came to Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) franchise Saint Louis Athletica by a 3-1 score in a closed scrimmage on March 21. Henderson and Iantorno shared the team lead with three goals apiece, while Rosen, rising senior Amanda Clark (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) and sophomore-to-be Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) also scored for the Irish during the spring.
Notre Dame is expected to have 22 monogram winners, including eight starters, returning from last season’s 26-1 squad that made its seventh trip to the NCAA title match and 10th appearance at the NCAA Women’s College Cup, while setting a school record for victories and longest winning streak in a single season. The Irish also will add another highly-gifted incoming freshman class next fall, with four players already having signed National Letters of Intent to attend Notre Dame.
— ND —