March 14, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman midfielder Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s) nodded home a pinpoint pass from junior forward Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) in the 72nd minute, lifting the Notre Dame women’s soccer team to a 2-1 exhibition victory over the Mexican Olympic Team on Friday night before a spirited crowd of 1,541 fans at Alumni Field. With the win, the Irish improve to 5-1-1 in seven exhibition matches against Mexico during the past eight seasons.
Hanks, who assisted on both Notre Dame goals, started the game-winning sequence after she was dragged down 45 yards from goal in front of the Irish bench. She then calmly stepped up and drilled the ensuing free kick all the way into the penalty area, where Fowlkes was parked 10 yards off the line and simply redirected the pass into the lower right-hand corner of the net. Fowlkes, who scored twice during her rookie year, was a halftime substitute for Notre Dame, which was playing its first exhibition match of the spring.
Mexico, which has reached its highest international ranking ever at No. 22, was playing its sixth match on a college exhibition tour that has seen it knock off defending national champion USC (3-1), Arizona State (3-0) and Michigan State (3-1), while also tie 2007 NCAA College Cup participant UCLA (1-1). The Mexicans are preparing for the Olympic qualification tournament next month with the goal of a berth in the Beijing Olympics later this year.
Mexico outshot Notre Dame, 10-9, including a 5-3 edge in shots on goal, but Irish sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) was up to the challenge with four first-half saves. The teams also combined for 26 fouls in the physical, up-tempo match that, at times, had the feel of a postseason NCAA contest.
Notre Dame got the first good scoring chance of the evening in the seventh minute, when junior defender Elise Weber (Elk Grove, Ill./St. Viator’s/Wisconsin) broke free on the right side and turned a cross back into the box, but sophomore forward Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) sent her header high. Five minutes later, Mexico’s Monica Ocampo got behind the Irish defense, but Lysander came out to turn away Ocampo’s chip.
The Irish cracked the scoring column in the 20th minute, as Hanks charged down the left side, cut smartly at the end line and whipped a cross into the six-yard box, where freshman forward Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) slipped in front of her defender and headed the ball into the lower right-hand corner.
However, the lead didn’t last long, as Mexico got the equalizer 11 minutes later. Following a short injury delay, Monica Vergara played a free kick into the box that Notre Dame could not clear. The ball landed at the feet of Iris Mora just outside the area and the Mexican forward found the top left corner of the goal with a 25-yard blast.
Hanks had a pair of solid scoring chances of her own in the second half. In the 60th minute, sophomore midfielder Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) sprang Hanks with a thru-ball in the box, but the 2006 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner couldn’t find pay dirt from a sharp angle. Then, after Fowlkes put the Irish on top, Hanks nearly padded the lead as her 30-yard rocket in the 77th minute sailed over the bar.
Mexico had two final opportunities to tie in the closing minutes, but came up empty. In the 89th minute, substitute Tania Morales just beat a Notre Dame offside trap and got in alone on freshman goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate), but the Irish rookie charged quickly and got enough of Morales’ shot to steer it wide of the goal. Weiss came up with another key grab in stoppage time, as Mora’s desperation cross from the right corner got caught up in the wind and began drifting towards the net before Weiss backpedaled and snared the dangerous ball.
— ND —
Women’s Soccer Exhibition Match
Mexico Olympic Team 1 0 – 1
Notre Dame 1 1 – 2