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Mexico Edges Irish Women, 3-2, In Another Festive Meeting (Spring Season Recap)

April 24, 2004

The Notre Dame women’s soccer team wrapped up its highly successful 2004 spring season by playing to a hard-fought 3-2 loss at the hands of the Mexican Women’s National Team (which is bound for the Olympics after upsetting Canada last month), in Friday-night action at Alumni Field. The fourth annual meeting again was played in front of a raucous and festive crowd of nearly 2,000, with the game showcasing one of the top upcoming teams in the international soccer scene versus the core group of a Notre Dame program that should be among the favorites to win the 2004 NCAA title.

Notre Dame held a 2-1 lead before seeing Mexico score the equalizer minutes before halftime. Maribel Dominguez – considered among the world’s top frontrunners – then was credited with her second goal of the game in the 67th minute, providing the final margin.

The Irish finished with a slim shot margin (13-11, 7-6 in shots on target) while holding a 6-3 edge in corner kicks, with each team whistled for 15 fouls. The game was played under international rules with restricted re-entry (ND’s only sub was a second-half change in the defensive midfield).

Notre Dame senior defender and All-American Melissa Tancredi already was all too familiar with the Mexican side, after playing for the Canadian team that lost to Mexico in the Olympic qualifying. Another former ND backline star, 2001 All-American/Academic All-American Monica Gonzalez, is a founding member of the Mexican National Team and made her return to Alumni Field on Friday night. She was one of nearly 30 former Notre Dame women’s soccer players who returned for a reunion gathering (see full list below), with others including such greats as Cindy Daws Mosley, Jen Renola, Holly Manthei Doyle, LaKeysia Beene and Rosella Guerrero.

“I was very pleased with our level of play tonight and it again was a tremendous atmosphere for high-level soccer. The game was wide open and played end-to-end. Both teams gave this great crowd a real treat,” said fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum, whose team had defeated Mexico in the previous three spring seasons (2-1 in ’01, 3-2 in ’02, 3-1 in ’03).

“We knew that Mexico would be extremely fast and talented technically, with Maribel Dominguez and Iris Mora a great forward tandem. They also have two excellent central midfielders in Monica Vergara and Fatima Leyva. We played them tough and this was their full side that is headed for the Olympics. It was a great way to cap what was an excellent spring season for us.”

(Note: also see additional notes and comments from Waldrum about the spring season, below this game recap).

Mexico opened the scoring in the game’s 10th minute, via Iris Mora’s left endline cross. Dominguez – who starred in the WUSA with the Atlanta Beat – was filling the middle and sent a header into the right side of the net for the 1-0 lead (9:09). The Irish then scored on a similar progression two minutes later, with junior forward Mary Boland providing the cross from the right endline. Freshman midfielder Jen Buczkowski (a starting defender with the U.S. Under-19 National Team) took the pass and scored into the far left corner for a 1-1 game (10:53).

Notre Dame claimed its 2-1 lead in the 31st minute, with sophomore forward and Canadian U-19 national teamer Katie Thorlakson scoring her fifth goal in six games played with the Irish this spring. Versatile freshman Lizzie Reed – who made the start at forward, alongside Boland and Thorlakson – set up the score after a short goal kick. Reed one-timed the ball out of the air and sent a pass up to Thorlakson, who made one of her patented turns before striking a 20-yard shot that tipped off the hands of ‘keeper Jennifer Molina (who played collegiately at Colgate) and went into the upper left corner of the net (30:40).

Mexico cashed in a defensive breakdown to tie the game, as the Irish back line was caught chasing while freshman ‘keeper Nikki Westfall overcommitted by charging out to challenge Mora (a freshman at UCLA). Mora found herself 1-on-1 with Westfall (who has played all spring in place of injured sophomore Erika Bohn) and dribbled around the ‘keeper down the right side before depositing a 20-yard shot into the vacated net (43:56). Westfall earlier had made a big save to snuff out a breakaway and help the Irish claim their first-half lead.

The final goal came at the 66:05 mark, set up by a wide-left free kick near the end line. Mexico sent a service to the near post and Dominguez flicked the ball towards the far side of the goal, with the ball deflecting off Reed as it went into the net for the 3-2 final margin.

GAME NOTES (see spring recap notes below game stats) – The Mexican Women’s National Team originally was founded in 1998, on a core of U.S. college players who held Mexican ancestry (including former ND players Gonzalez and Monica Gerardo), but the team has begun to develop a homegrown base of players who are considered some of the more dynamic competitors among the world’s young players … Mexico won earlier in the week at Texas-El Paso (4-0; 3G from Patricia Torres, with Dominguez adding a goal) and next was headed for a game Sunday at the University of Illinois … Dominguez scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Canada during Olympic qualifying (since that game, the Mexican side had been playing vs. Brazil, Australia and in Europe) … Gonzalez is one of three U.S. college products that started on the back line for Mexico (also Cal State Fullerton’s Marlene Sandoval and Miami’s Elizabeth Gomez) … other present/former U.S. college players on the Mexico roster include CSF’s Nadia Hernandez and UC Santa Barbara’s Anna Martinez (neither played in Friday’s game) … ND’s starting lineup included frontrunners Boland, Thorlakson and Reed, with Buczkowski and sophomore Annie Schefter filling the high midfielder roles while freshman Jill Krivacek was the defensive midfielder … freshmen Christie Shaner (left) and Kim Lorenzen (right) served as the outside backs, with Tancredi and junior Gudrun Gunnarsdottir filling the central defender spots (Tancredi is expected to return for a fifth year next fall) … Claire Gallerano came on as a sub for her classmate Krivacek midway through the second half.

Mexico 2 1 – 3

Notre Dame 2 0 – 2

MEX 1. Maribel Dominguez (Iris Mora) 9:01; ND 1. Jen Buczkowski (Mary Boland) 10:53; ND 2. Katie Thorlakson (Lizzie Reed) 30:40; MEX 2. Mora (-) 43:56; MEX 3. Dominguez (Fatima Leyva) 66:05.

Shots: MEX 5-6 – 11, ND 7-6 – 13.

Corner Kicks: MEX 2-1 – 3, ND 3-3 – 6.

Saves: Mexico 5 (Jennifer Molina), ND 3 (Nikki Westfall).

Fouls: MEX 9-6 – 15, ND 7-8 – 15.

Yellow Cards: Buczkowski, ND (36:06); Claire Gallerano, ND (82:51); Leyva, MEX (86:36).

Offsides: MEX 2, ND 1.

Attendance: 1,910


* Randy Waldrum ON THE 2004 SPRING SEASON – “The games vs. Florida and Mexico were great for a our program to play teams of that caliber while the other spring games allowed us to get a lot of players some quality minutes. … Jen Buczkowski and Katie Thorlakson both had great springs and a lot of that can be traced to their training with their respective national team programs. Buczkowski possibly was our best player all spring and she is noticeably more mobile and quicker. It’s like she feels she’s not a freshman any more and finally is starting to take the game over instead of waiting for others to do so. And Katie has simply taken her game to another level. She was giving Monica Gonzalez fits during the Mexico game and is just so competitive on the ball. The big thing with Katie is how she is scoring on such a consistent basis. She’s always been a great scorer but her production had been much more streaky. … As far as some of the other players, Mary Boland again did a great job up front. I think (junior defender) Kate Tulisiak just had the best season, fall or spring, of her career. We also were very pleased with Claire Gallerano’s progress and liked what (sophomore) Miranda Ford showed us in the midfield. Those three are some of the players who really made strides this spring and of course Nikki Westfall got some great experience by playing all the games, she just still needs to work on her consistency and finetuning some of the little things.”

* Notre Dame played a total of seven games in the spring (5-1-1), outscoring its opponents 17-5 … the results included a 1-1 tie vs. Florida and 3-0 win over the Dallas Texans (both at a tournament in Florida), home wins over Michigan State (3-1), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3-0) and Western Michigan (4-1), a 1-0 win over Illinois at a tournament in Indianapolis and the 3-2 loss to Mexico … Thorlakson (5) and Boland (4) accounted for more than half of ND’s spring scoring, with freshman Molly Iarocci adding a pair of goals while Lorenzen, Krivacek, Gallerano, junior Maggie Manning, Gunnarsdottir and Buczkowski also scored goals in the spring … complete stats for assists were not kept but Lorenzen added at least three assists in the spring (with two from Boland).

* In the mid-March exhibition vs. Florida (the first-ever meeting between two of the nation’s top programs), ND controlled the run of play and scoring chances but a late defensive lapse allowed the Gators to claim a 1-0 lead … the Irish quickly tied the game when Boland dragged the defenders with her on a horizontal run from the left side before slotting a pass up the middle … Thorlakson ran onto the ball and found herself 1-on-1 with the ‘keeper, burying a 10-yard shot into the upper left corner … ND’s 3-0 win over the Dallas Texans included goals from Gunnarsdottir (off a corner kick), Iarocci and Boland … both games allowed the ND coaches to tinker with the lineup and many reserves saw quality minutes vs. the Texans … Gallerano – who trained with the Texans during her prep days (as did ND freshman defender Kerri Kennedy) – had a strong game vs. Florida (as a defensive midfielder), with Tulisiak also turning in a strong performance at outside back … Westfall did a strong job controlling the goalscoring area vs. the potent Florida squad … sophomore midfielder Jenny Walz returned to full action, after missing the ’03 season due to ACL surgery, while Bohn missed the spring season with a minor knee injury.

* The April 3 action included the wins over MSU and UWM … Shaner’s corner set up an Iarocci goal for a 1-0 halftime lead vs. MSU … Thorlakson later played a thru-pass for Boland, who beat two defenders on the dribble and scored on an 18-yard shot to the near post … Krivacek added a similar goal late in the MSU game, beating a couple defenders and slotting a near-post shot as she dribbled to her left … MSU had scored after a mishandled cross … the win over UWM (which beat MSU, 3-0) came under tough weather conditions … Boland redirected a shot for a 1-0 halftime lead … a nice series of passes down the right flank later led to Manning’s goal from the top of the box (the ball was played back to her and she scored from 18) … a similar buildup down the right side saw Lorenzen receive the ball at an angle near the top of the box (she drove a 15-yard shot inside the far left post to cap the scoring).

* The 4-1 win over WMU on April 7 featured an early rebound goal from Thorlakson, who cashed in a failed clearance by first-timing a high shot to the near post … the Irish showcased their great combination play throughout the second half … a long pass from Lorezen found Thorlakson at the top of the box and she played the ball off her chest before making a turn and scoring from 18 … WMU scored on a well-struck direct kick from 35 yards … ND came right back and scored when Thorlakson made a run at the defense and rocketed in a 25-yard shot for the hat trick … the final goal came when Lorenzen made a run down the right flank and sent a pass across the face of the goal (with Gallerano knocking in the failed clearance from 12 yards out).

* The April 17 win over Illinois was played at Kuntz Stadium (Butler’s former home facility) … the Irish scored midway through the first half, with another run by Lorenzen down the right flank and a cross from 30 yards out … Boland beat the ‘keeper to the ball, calmly collected possession and finished into the empty goal … the Irish were a bit off their game minus Thorlakson (due to national-team training) but did dominate possession for 20 minutes of the first half … a Buczkowski thru-ball sprung Boland but her shot went over the crossbar … Buczkowski also was taken down in the box but no penalty was called.

* Notre Dame enjoyed the benefits of a mostly healthy and deep squad this spring, with 20 players making the trip to Dallas … two veterans still are in the process of injury rehabilitation, as midfielder Randi Scheller is rehabbing from hip surgery under the watchful eye of a specialist in the Pittsburgh area while outside back Candace Chapman still is working her way back from ACL knee surgery (both players missed all of the ’03 fall season) …. Scheller is slated to return as a fifth-year senior next fall while Chapman will have the option to apply for a fifth year of eligibility in ’05.

* The alumni reunion included nearly 30 former Notre Dame women’s soccer players, led by two former classmates – midfielder Daws Mosley and goalkeeper Renola (who both received player-of-the-year honors from the 1996 season) … other All-Americans on hand included Gonzalez, goalkeeper Beene, forward Guerrero and midfielder Manthei (a rare four-year All-American and still the runaway NCAA career assist leader) … ND’s all-time goals leader Jenny Heft Erickson also was on hand, as was former ND and Mexico star Monica Gerardo (who held the goals record before Heft), four-year starting midfielder Ashley Dryer, four-year starting defender Kelly “Boof” Lindsey (who went on to win a WUSA title with the San Jose Cyber Rays, playing alongside Beene) and Amy Van Laecke, one of the key scorers for the 1995 national championship team … other alums in attendance included: Courtney Banks Stiefel, Kristin Danielson, Marianne Giolitto, Brenda Gorski Torres, Stacia Masters Richards, Jill Matesic (currently a board member with the Notre Dame National Monogram Club), Julie Maund, Robin Mego Lynch, Megan Middendorf O’Sullivan, Tasha Strawbridge, Laura Vanderberg and Julie Vogel Kline … three of the four graduating seniors – Kimberly Carpenter, Amanda Guertin and Amy Warner – also were on hand (fifth-year player and national Academic All-American of the Year Vanessa Pruzinsky recently began her employment as a chemical engineer with Merck Pharmaceuticals).