Oct. 12, 2004
Notre Dame forward Amanda Cinalli (Maple Heights, Ohio) has become the first freshman to be honored by the BIG EAST Conference this season as the women’s soccer offensive (or defensive) player of the week, after scoring a pair of key goals in BIG EAST road wins over Villanova (1-0) and Georgetown (2-1).
Cinalli – who earlier was the BIG EAST rookie of the week (Sept. 20) after scoring a similarly big road goal in the 1-0 win at UConn – registered the only scoring at Villanova on Oct. 8, on a well-placed crossing shot from 30 yards that ripped into the upper right corner of the net. Two days later, her goal quickly tied the Georgetown game (just 59 seconds after the Hoyas had scored), after taking a leftside feed from Maggie Manning and firing the ball over the ‘keeper’s head from six yards out.
Notre Dame players now have combined to earn eight of the 15 BIG EAST offensive (4) and defensive (4) player-of-the-week honors this season, including at least one honoree in all seven weeks of the season. Junior forward Katie Thorlakson earlier received the offensive honor on Aug. 30, Sept. 6 and Oct. 4 while fifth-year center back Melissa Tancredi has earned three of the defensive honors (Sept. 6, 13 and 27) and senior left back Kate Tulisiak was the Sept. 20 honoree. Connecticut is the only other team with more than two offensive/defensive awards from the BIG EAST this season (2 offensive, 1 defensive) while Rutgers has produced two awards (both defensive) and three other teams have one offensive/defensive honoree.
Cinalli – who now ranks second on the team in points (17) and goals (7, behind Thorlakson’s 11) – leads all BIG EAST freshmen in goals while closely trailing West Virginia’s Ashley Banks (18) in points. She ranks fourth overall among BIG EAST players in goals (behind a senior and two juniors) and seventh in points, behind two seniors, three juniors and Banks.
Her other season highlights include scoring Notre Dame’s first two goals of the season in the 7-2 win over Baylor, becoming just the fourth freshman ever to open the season scoring for the Irish and likewise was the fourth Notre Dame player ever to score the first two goals in a season.
Cinalli’s 2004 output is all the more noteworthy due to the fact that the 2004 squad had to replace graduated top goalscorers Amy Warner and Amanda Guertin while coping with the absence of two freshman frontrunners who were prep All-Americans (Kerri Hanks is training with the U.S. Under-19 National Team and Susan Pinnick was injured in a summer team van accident with her club team). Jannica Tjeder, another top rookie, injured her ankle in the ’04 opener and missed five games while senior leader and All-America forward candidate Mary Boland suffered a season-ending broken leg midway through the fourth game of the ’04 season.