Nov. 7, 2004
STORRS, Conn. – Notre Dame freshman Ashley Jones scored her first goal of the season early in the second half but Connecticut’s Kristen Graczyk found the net twice in the final 20 minutes as the Huskies came back to defeat the visiting Irish, 2-1, in Sunday’s BIG EAST championship game at Morrone Stadium.
Notre Dame (19-1-1) now awaits the NCAA selection show, set for Monday at 4:30 EST on ESPN News. The 64-team field will be announced as will the 16 national seeds, the 16 host sites (a handful of national seeds typically are not hosts) and the bracketed pairings. First-round games are slated for Nov. 12, with the second-round action following on Nov. 14. The top eight national seeds are ensured of home field if they advance to the third round/round of 16 (weekend of Nov. 19-21) while the top four national seeds ostensibly would host through the quarterfinal round on Thanksgiving weekend. The NCAA semifinals and final will played on Dec. 3 and 5 at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C.
(Note: the Irish – who completed an 18-hour day by returning to campus at 2:00 a.m. Monday morning, as a weary but ever-spirited group – will be hoping to earn one of the top-four national seeds and thus not have to worry about another road trip until a potential trip to Cary for the final weekend.)
Sunday’s game halted several noteworthy streaks, most notably the fourth-longest unbeaten start in the program’s history (the ’94, ’97 and ’03 teams all started 23-0-1). It also marked the first time a team had come from behind to defeat the Irish since Oct. 19, 2002, with Notre Dame going 39-0-0 in its previous 39 games when scoring first.
Connecticut (16-6-1) cashed in its own two quality scoring chances of the game, with the Irish owning a 13-5 edge in total shots and 5-0 in corner kicks (the seventh time in the last 13 game that the opponent has failed to register a corner vs. ND).
Junior forward Katie Thorlakson assisted on the Irish goal, pushing her season point total to 58 (19 goals, 18 assists) for seventh-best in Notre Dame history. Thorlakson – who now has scored or assisted on 14 of ND’s last 15 goals – battled on the right endline before sending a cross into the penalty area. Jones was running onto the play at the top of the six-yard box and angled her body for a right-footed volley in the open net (46:13).
Graczyk tied the game in the 71st minute, ending Notre Dame’s 17-0 scoring streak that dated back to the early moments of the Oct. 22 game vs. Seton Hall. The Irish failed to clear the ball after a series of headers and Graczyk ended up with the ball outside the top of the box. The 2003 BIG EAST offensive player of the year then showed her scoring flair by striking a shot into the upper left corner of the net, forging the 1-1 tie and ending junior goalkeeper Erika Bohn’s shutout streak at 639 minutes.
Graczyk – one of four first team all-BIG EAST forwards on the field Sunday (also Thorlakson, ND’s Amanda Cinalli and UConn’s Jessica Gjersten) – then scored the gamewinner with just 3:12 left in regulation
Karyn Reviere assisted on the goal after winning possession on the right endline and arching a cross for the far left post. Graczyk was in position and struck a sharp header from close range for her 12th goal of the season.
The goal marked the first time the Irish have allowed multiple goals in 17 games and also handed Notre Dame just its fifth deficit of the season (the Irish now have trailed for a total of just 85 minutes this season).
Notre Dame sophomore left back and two-time all-BIG EAST performer Christie Shaner left the game in the 64th minute due to a leg injury (her status is TBA).
NOTES – ND had been 13-0-0 on the opponent’s field the past two seasons (8-0-0 in ’04) prior to Sunday’s loss … the Irish also now are 18-2-0 the past two seasons (8-1-0 in `04) when playing two days after a previous game … ND had won the previous three games vs. UConn and now leads the series 13-4-2 … the Irish now have totaled 58 goals and allowed 58 shots on goal while allowing just 34 corner kicks all season (1.6/gm) … ND now is 52-12-1 all-time in the postseason and 21-2-0 in the BIG EAST Tournament … Thorlakson’s 56 points are tied with Meotis Erikson’s 1997 total for 7th in ND history … next up on that list are Anne Makinen and Jenny Streiffer (both had 58 points in ’97) and Monica Gerardo’s 59 in ’96 … Thorlakson, who has points in each of the last four games but saw her goalscoring streak end at four games, needs four more points to become the fourth ND player to reach 60 in a season (others are Cindy Daws’ 72 in ’96, Streiffer’s 66 in ’96 and Heft’s 61 in ’98) … Thorlakson now is averaging 2.7 points per game and would total 72 points (tying Daws record) over a full 27-game season … her 98 career points (33G-32A) remain 15th in ND history, one behind former teammate Amy Warner … Thorlakson played in her 65th straight game with the Irish while junior M Annie Schefter and sophomore M Jen Buczkowski have appeared in 46 straight (Shaner logged her 42nd straight game) … ND still has allowed just four first-half goals this season … the Irish remain one win shy of clinching the program’s ninth 20-win season in the last 11.
#2 Notre Dame 0 1 – 1
Connecticut 0 2 – 2
ND 1. Ashley Jones 1 (Katie Thorlakson) 46:13.
UC 1. Kristen Graczyk 11 (-) 72:27.
UC 2. Graczyk 12 (Karyn Reviere) 86:48.
Shots: ND 8-5 – 13, UC 1-4 – 5.
Saves: ND 2 (Erika Bohn), UC 5 (Megan Jessee).
Corner Kicks: ND 4-1 – 5, UC 0-0 – 0.
Fouls: ND 14, UC 12.
Offsides: ND 7, UC 0.