Sept. 19, 2008
CHICAGO – Senior All-America forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) scored with less than 13 minutes remaining, lifting No. 1 Notre Dame to a 1-0 victory over DePaul on Friday afternoon at Wish Field in Chicago. The Irish dominated the run of play for much of their BIG EAST Conference opener, and finally broke through the Blue Demons’ defensive posture and registered their sixth shutout in seven games this season.
Hanks ultimately cashed in the reward after Notre Dame had pillaged the DePaul defensive third, picking up the ball 35 yards from goal in the slot and feeding sophomore midfielder Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) at the top of the penalty box. Iantorno then delivered a nifty return pass to Hanks, who made a smart angled run toward the left edge of the area, gathered the ball in stride and struck a hard left-footed shot low into the far right-side netting for her sixth goal of the season at 77:18. It also was the team-high fourth assist of the season for Iantorno, as the Chicagoland native enjoyed a successful homecoming while matching her assist total from all of last season.
One week after becoming the sixth NCAA Division I player to join the 60-goal, 60-assist club, Hanks reached four more career milestones in one fell swoop with her second-half score at DePaul. It was her 70th career goal, making her the fourth D-I player to amass 70 goals and 60 assists (others are North Carolina’s Mia Hamm, Notre Dame’s Jenny Streiffer and UC Santa Barbara’s Carin Jennings), and it gave the talented striker 200 career points (70G-60A), making her the 18th player in Division I history to reach that landmark. What’s more, she collected the 19th gamewinning goal of her career, tying the Notre Dame record held by Jenny Heft (1996-99) and Michelle McCarthy (1992-95). The score also gave Hanks 57 career gamewinning points (19G-19A), breaking the Irish record set by Katie Thorlakson (2002-05).
Notre Dame (7-0-0) outshot DePaul, 24-2, in the contest, including an 11-1 margin in shots on goal. In fact, the Irish held the Blue Demons to a single shot in each half, both coming from well outside the penalty area and neither seriously threatening the Notre Dame cage. Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) was credited with one save in posting her third solo shutout this year.
Playing as the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time in two seasons, the Irish went on the offensive early, taking nine shots in the first half (five on goal). Senior All-America forward Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) had a pair of good looks on goal, the best coming in the 13th minute, when she outraced DePaul goalkeeper Kelsey Hoinkes to a loose ball in the area, but saw her flick header slip wide of the left post. Iantorno also looked to have a scoring chance in the 33rd minute, but as she went to meet a pass inside the right edge of the box, she was run over from behind and dispossessed. Minutes later, her shot on frame off a corner kick went right to Hoinkes.
Notre Dame elevated its offensive pressure in the second half, and nearly broke through in the first 10 minutes of the period. Junior forward Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) found senior defender Elise Weber (Elk Grove, Ill./St. Viator’s Academy) on a slick overlapping run down the left side, and Weber slashed into the area before cracking a left-footed shot from 15 yards out that caromed off the crossbar at 53:51.
Hoinkes then did her part to keep the Irish off the board in the 75th minute after Notre Dame freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) delivered a flick header to freshman midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West), who was parked in the slot 10 yards from goal. However, as Barg settled the ball and tried for the upper corner, Hoinkes came charging out and smothered the shot, with her defense clearing away the rebound. Hoinkes finished with a career-high 10 saves for the Blue Demons.
After breaking through with Hanks’ goal, Notre Dame preserved its lead by maintaining possession for the vast majority of the final 12 minutes, with DePaul invading the Irish defensive third just twice in that span. Lysander commanded the penalty area well down the stretch, and the Blue Demons’ lone shot of the second half came with 3:54 left, when Tara Strickland’s hurried shot from 35 yards away sailed harmlessly high over the goal.
The Irish will wrap up a two-game weekend road trip Sunday when they travel to No. 17/16 Penn State for a 1 p.m. (ET) game at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pa. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, with Dean Linke and Lisa Grubb on the call.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame is a perfect 14-0 all-time in BIG EAST openers, with the past four victories coming against DePaul … those four games represent the entire series against the Blue Demons, during which time the Irish have held a decided edge over DePaul in goals (16-0), total shots (107-7) and shots on goal (49-3) … in fact, Hanks has seven career goals against the Blue Demons, matching DePaul’s combined shot total in those four games … the Irish extended their school-record unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 39 games (37-0-2), dating back to the 2005 season … Notre Dame is 75-6-3 (.911) all-time when playing as the nation’s No. 1 team (according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America) … in the past two games, Hanks has reached a combined six career milestones, joining the 60G-60A club and moving into the top 10 in NCAA history for career assists with her 60th helper against SMU on Sept. 12 … Notre Dame has scored in 32 consecutive games, the fourth-longest scoring streak in school history, passing the 31-game run the Irish pieced together from Oct. 24, 2000 to Sept. 1, 2002; next up is a 36-game string from Oct. 19, 1995 to Dec. 6, 1996.