Aug. 29, 2003
STORRS, Conn. – The sixth-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team did not play its customary preseason exhibition games this season, instead opting for 20 regular-season dates, and headed into Friday’s 2003 season opener minus three injured starters and two other regulars who are sidelined with various ailments.
The result? One of the most dominating games in the program’s history, a 9-1 dismantling of an historically-strong Hartford squad in opening-round action at the University of Connecticut’s adidas Classic.
Notre Dame – which started three freshmen and a sophomore, midfielder Annie Schefter, who missed all of the ’02 season due to injury – improved to 10-1-0 in its last 11 season openers, thanks to an impressive first half that yielded five goals on just seven shots. Junior Mary Boland started at forward and made an immediate impact, scoring the first two Irish goals and adding a third in the second half (for her first career hat trick), in addition to threading a perfect thru-pass that sprung senior forward Amanda Guertin for the 5-1 halftime cushion.
The nine goals equal the second-most scored by the Irish in the five-year Randy Waldrum era and most since a 9-2 win at Wisconsin in 1999 (trailing a 10-0 win over Georgetown later that season). It also equates to nearly one-fifth of the entire goal output by the 2002 team that managed just 46 goals in 21 games. Just two of the previous 15 Notre Dame women’s soccer teams have turned in a more dominating opener, in 1993 (12-0 at LaSalle) and 1996 (14-0 at Providence), while the nine-goal outburst trails just 15 double-digit scoring games in the program’s history.
The bulk of the Irish goals were the result of skilled play from several players, showcasing the tremendous technical ability of a potent team that now is slated to return 24 of its 28 players in 2004. The Notre Dame forwards set the tone with stifling pressure that kept Hartford on its heels throughout the game while the midfield dominated their counterparts with crisp distribution. In the back, senior Melissa Tancredi and junior Gudrun Gunnarsdottir showed composure on the ball and top-level ball skills that are rarely seen with a pair of central backs on the college level – while freshmen Kim Lorenzen (rightside starter), Christie Shaner (leftside starter) and Lizzie Reed (reserve) each logged impressive stints at outside back.
Guertin and sophomore forward Maggie Manning both scored twice off the bench, with Guertin adding a booming 40-yard assist on Manning’s second goal. Senior forward Amy Warner assisted on Boland’s first two goals and was taken down on a breakaway to set up Guertin’s penalty-kick score, with Warner later capping the onslaught on a goal in the 81st minute.
The Irish finished with a 24-7 shot edge (converting nine of the 14 shots that were on target) and nearly reached a double-digit goal total, with one shot clanging off the post and another off the crossbar. Notre Dame’s constant pressure also was evidenced in the 10 offsides calls that went against the Irish.
Prior to arriving in Storrs, Notre Dame received confirmation that two starters – junior All-America defender Candace Chapman and senior midfielder Randi Scheller – will be lost for the season due to injuries. Chapman recently suffered a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament while training with the Canadian National Team for the upcoming Women’s World Cup while Scheller was set to undergo surgery this weekend in order to correct a nagging hip condition.
Fifth-year defender and Trumbull, Conn., native Vanessa Pruzinsky also remained sidelined as she nears her return from an ankle injury that held her out for most of the 2002 season. Sophomore midfielder Jenny Walz (who played in 17 games last season) is undergoing her own rehab from an offseason ACL injury while freshman defender Kari Kennedy is out 2-3 weeks with a foot injury.
Schefter was one of several “newcomers” who had an impressive debut, looping a shot on goal that was nudged in by senior midfielder Kim Carpenter (for a 3-0 lead) before assisting on Boland’s third goal with a well-placed leftside corner kick.
Friday’s starting lineup included just six players who started the final game of the 2002 season, with two of those players – Boland and Carpenter – occupying different positions than in that ’02 NCAA third-round game at Stanford (others who started that game were Warner, Thorlakson, Tancredi and sophomore goalkeeper Erika Bohn).
Notre Dame wasted little time displaying its impressive interplay and pinpoint passing, with a five-player combination sequence yielding the first goal in the seventh minute. The versatile Lorenzen – who trained earlier in the preseason as a forward – made the start at Chapman’s right back spot and set the play in motion with a pass down the flank. Sophomore forward Katie Thorlakson took the pass near midfield and quickly sent the ball down the midfield stripe to Schefter, who converted a perfect redirection pass that sent the ball into open space down the right side.
Warner showcased her speed and ran down the pass before sending a cross into the box for Boland. Heather Hinton stopped Boland’s close-range shot but the Academic All-America candidate banged in the rebound for the eighth goal of her Irish career (6:32). Boland now has scored in all three season openers of her ND career (five of her 10 goals have come in openers), including the first Irish goal in 2001 (a diving header vs. Penn State) and the third goal in the ’02 opener at Providence (3-0).
Nine minutes later, Warner raced free near the left endline and again found Boland filling the middle, with Boland alertly opting to redirect the ball in a sweeping motion and Hinton caught flatfooted as the five-yard shot carried into the far right side of the goal (15:19).
Schefter nearly scored midway through the first half, fighting to keep control near the top of the box before sending a chip over the charging Hinton. The shot almost carried wide of the left post but Carpenter followed the play and nudged the ball over the goal line for her third career goal and first since 2001 (27:01).
Manning scored less than two minutes later, just moments after checking into the game. Freshman Jen Buczkowski, who had an impressive debut in the midfield, set up the goal by playing a perfect ball from the left side of the center stripe. The outlet pass carried into open space on the right side and Manning beat the defense to the punch, angled to the goal and jammed in her own rebound for her second goal with the Irish (28:55).
Hilde Bakke’s goal in the 42nd minute averted the shutout, after Jeantte Akerlund redirected Erin Mucha’s leftside corner. Bakke looped a 10-yard shot from the left side that sailed just beyond the leap of Bohn (41:47).
Guertin quickly pushed the cushion back to four goals, after Warner was taken down on a leftside breakaway – with Guertin calmly sending the PK into the lower left corner for her 38th career goal (43:09).
Boland continued her strong all-around game early in the second half, pulling the ball back to shake loose from a defender before tapping a touch pass that split two other Hartford players. Guertin anticipated the play and circled around from the right side, taking the ball in stride and knocking a 12-yard crossing shot into the left side (50:36).
The goal pushed Guertin’s career total to 39, tying 1999 graduate Shannon Boxx (who just was named to the U.S. World Cup roster) for 11th in Notre Dame history, just four behind Susie Zilvitis (’92).
Guertin showed off her pinpoint crossing ability eight minutes later, launching a pass from near mid-field on the left side. Manning tracked the ball into the goal area and chipped a shot over Hinton to pad the lead to 7-1 (58:07). The five-point day landed Guertin on 100 career points, becoming the 13th Irish player ever to reach the century mark.
Schefter then delivered in Guertin’s customary corner-kick role, on a well-struck ball from the right flag. Thorlakson deflected the ball to Boland, who one-timed a shot inside the near right post to complete her hat trick (71:55).
Lorenzen forced the action into the goal area in the final 10 minutes, colliding with a Hartford player as the ball squirted free to the right side. Warner seized the chance and ended Hinton’s long day by cashing in her 28th career goal with the Irish (80:58).
Notre Dame 5 4 – 9
Hartford 1 0 – 1
ND 1. Mary Boland (Amy Warner) 6:32; ND 2. Boland (Warner) 15:19; ND 3. Kim Carpenter (Annie Schefter) 27:01; ND 4. Maggie Manning (-) 28:55; HART 1. Hilde Bakke (Jeanette Akerlund, Erin Mucha) 41:47; ND 5. Amanda Guertin (PK) 43:09; ND 6. Guertin (Boland) 50:36; ND 7. Manning (Guertin) 58:07; ND 8. Boland (Katie Thorlakson, Schefter) 71:55; ND 9. Warner (-) 80:58.
Shots: ND 7-17 – 24, HART 5-2 – 7.
Corner Kicks: ND 2-3 – 5, HART 1-1 – 2.
Saves: ND 4 (Erika Bohn 3, Nikki Westfall 1), HART 5 (Heather Hinton).
Fouls: ND 8, HART 10.
Offsides: ND 10, HART 10.