Oct. 5, 2004
Notre Dame junior forward Katie Thorlakson (Langley, B.C.) has picked up her third BIG EAST offensive player-of-the-week honor in just six weeks of play this season, after leading the top-ranked women’s soccer team in wins at No. 20 West Virginia (3-1) and at home vs. Providence (3-0).
Thorlakson – who has rocketed to a spot among the frontrunners for national player-of-the-year honors – registered a goal and assist in both wins last week, as the Irish improved to 12-0-0. The 5-foot-3 sparkplug of the Irish offense currently leads the nation in points (34) and assists (12) while ranking sixth in goals (11), among players from 300-plus Division I teams.
Notre Dame players now have combined to earn seven of the 13 BIG EAST offensive (3) and defensive (4) player-of-the-week honors this season, with fifth-year center back Melissa Tancredi earning three of the defensive honors (Sept. 6, 13 and 27) while senior left back Kate Tulisiak was the Sept. 20 honoree (Thorlakson earlier received the offensive honor on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6). Rutgers is the only other team with more than one offensive/defensive award from the BIG EAST this season (2 defensive), with four teams producing one honoree.
The first five weeks of the season saw Thorlakson total three eight-point weekends and she added six more points over the course of the WVU and PC games. Thorlakson’s rightside corner kick produced Notre Dame’s earliest goal of the season, with Chrstie Shaner snapping home a header for the early lead at WVU (2:38). She later capped the 3-1 lead with a nifty move in the 86th minute, set up by passes from Jen Buczkowski and Candace Chapman – with Thorlakson faking out her defender before calmly sending a low leftfooted shot inside the near-right post.
Two days later, back at Alumni Field, Thorlakson opened the scoring vs. the Friars for her team-leading sixth gamewinning goal of the season. The classic “goalscorer’s goal” saw Thorlakson shake free near the left endline before driving a tough-angle, leftfooted shot that carried into the right sidenetting. Less than one minute later, she combined with Chapman on passes for Jannica Tjeder’s first goal of the season on a crossing shot from the center of the box.
Thorlakson’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). 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.
With the above limits at forward, Thorlakson has taken it upon herself to factor into nearly every goal the Irish scored. In the first two weeks of the season, she was on the field for 13 goals and factored into all 13 of them – and she now has played a role in 25 of the team’s 37 goals this season (68%, with many of the other goals coming when she has been on the bench cheering on the Irish reserves).
Thorlakson has scored in five straight games and owns half (6 of 12) of the team’s gamewinning goals, just two shy of Rosella Guerrero’s team record (8, set in ’94). Her 34 points this season have nearly matched her combined total (42) from her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Currently the only player in the nation with 11-plus points and 11-plus assists, Thorlakson and two fellow Canadians own the top three spots in the national scoring charts – as Nebraska midfielder Brittany Timko (12G-10A) also has 34 points while Portland forward Christine Sinclair has 33 (132G-7A). Thorlakson and Oklahoma State’s Nikki Wojtowicz are tied for the national assist lead with 12.
Thorlakson currently leads the BIG EAST in points, goals, assists, gamewinning goals and total shots (52). She owns a .212 shot pct. and is averaging 4.7 shots per goal scored (by comparison, the rest of the Irish team has just a .120 shot pct. and 8.3 shots per goal). When looking at shots on goal, Thorlakson is converting at a rate of better than one goal per every three shots on the frame (11 of 31, or 2.8).
In four games vs. nationally-ranked teams this season, she has totaled four goals and four assists – highlighted by an eight-point game (3G-2A) vs.then-#4 Santa Clara. No other player has totaled eight-plus points vs. a top-25 opponent this season while only four other Division I players have totaled more than eight points in any games this season.
Thorlakson – the 16th Notre Dame player ever to total 25-plus goals and 25-plus assists in her career (25G-26A) – is averaging 2.83 points per game this season and would total 76 points at that pace if the Irish play the full allotment of nine postseason games (27 total GP). That projection of 76 points would best the ND record of 72 (26G-20A), set by midfielder Cindy Daws in her 1996 national player-of-the-year season. Only two other Irish players have totaled more than 60 points in a season: Jenny Streiffer (66, in ’96) and Jenny Heft (61, in ’98), with Streiffer being the last ND player with 50-plus points in a season (53, in ’99).
Thorlakson’s 12 career gamewinning goals rank 9th in the ND record book, one behind 2001 graduate Meotis Erikson). Her 76 career points would rank near the top of many school’s record books but she now is 20th in ND career scoring. Only three players in the nation have totaled more assists in a game this season than Thorlakson’s three vs. Baylor.