Sept. 28, 2008
CINCINNATI, Ohio — Freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) collected her first career hat trick, and No. 1 Notre Dame held Cincinnati without a single shot on goal, blowing past the host Bearcats, 6-0, on Sunday afternoon in BIG EAST Conference National Division action at Gettler Stadium in Cincinnati. Junior defender Haley Ford (Midland, Texas/Midland) added a goal and an assist, her first points of the year, and senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) added her team-high 10th goal of the season as the Irish (10-0-0, 3-0-0 BIG EAST) remain the nation’s lone unbeaten and untied team in 2008.
With as much offensive firepower as Notre Dame displayed on Sunday, its defense was equally impressive, preventing UC from getting any shots on goal and mounting any serious threats until the closing minutes of the game. The Irish wound up outshooting the Bearcats, 19-7 (10-0 in shots on goal) although Cincinnati did hold a 5-3 edge on corner kicks. Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) went the first 75:13 in the Notre Dame net before sophomore Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) wrapped up the seventh Irish shutout in 10 games this season. Notre Dame now has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 36-3, owns a 0.30 goals-against average (GAA) and has allowed just 23 shots on goal all season (the same number Hanks has all by herself).
“That was a pretty satisfying effort all the way around,” Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We got some important contributions from a lot of different people. Haley (Ford), Taylor (Knaack) and Molly (Campbell) all gave us some really solid minutes out there, and it certainly doesn’t hurt when you’ve got quality goalscorers like Kerri (Hanks) and Melissa (Henderson), who had some tremendous finishes. Overall, I thought we did a good job of keeping our intensity level high throughout the game and staying focused on what we needed to do to win.”
Notre Dame pushed forward early and had a couple of good scoring chances against the highlanders (Cincinnati was originally known as the “city of seven hills”), with senior defender/co-captain Carrie Dew (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) nodding Hanks’ corner kick just wide of the left post in the fourth minute. The Bearcats (5-5-0, 1-2-0) came back downfield, with Julie Morrissey getting one of her shots blocked and another from 20 yards out sailing well over the bar (5:13). As it turned out, those would be the only two shots the Irish would allow in the opening half.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame continued to keep the play in its offensive third, and it finally paid dividends in the 27th minute. Dew started the sequence by picking off a soft lead pass by Cincinnati and racing down the left flank before dropping a pass inside to Hanks at the top left corner of the area. Hanks took one dribble to her right and uncorked a low screamer just inside the far right post and out of the reach of UC goalkeeper Andrea Kaminski (26:49), with Dew registering her first point of the season.
Henderson came on as a substitute for Hanks with a little less than 15 minutes to go in the first half and the Irish freshman needed just five minutes to find the back of the net. Junior Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) won the ball at midfield and slipped a precision thru-ball to Henderson 35 yards out, with the speedy rookie outracing two defenders before beating Kaminski low to the right post (35:01).
Trailing by a pair of goals at halftime, Cincinnati made an early second-half surge, getting its best look on goal in the 53rd minute, when Melissa Bigg teed up a free kick from 22 yards straight out, but the Irish defensive wall did its job and safely deflected her shot out of play. Moments later, Henderson began a 16-minute spree in which she bedeviled the Bearcats’ defense with a wide variety of passes and shots that left the hosts scratching their heads.
Henderson started off by flicking a header on the right wing to Weissenhofer, who sent a cross into the area where sophomore forward Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) just missed wide of the right post from 10 yards out (60:07). Henderson then drove down the right channel, cut back at the end line and tired to hit cutting freshman midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) with a pass into the box, but Campbell’s shot from point-blank range was smothered by Kaminski at the 63:20 mark. The freshman duo almost made a connection two minutes later on a similar pass and shot, but the UC defense was there to block Campbell’s scoring bid. Henderson then switched back from playmaker to scorer, running on to Ford’s long cross-field service , but coming up empty on a laser headed for the upper left 90 just past the midway point of the second half.
Finally, Henderson’s forays into the offensive third paid off in the 72nd minute. Junior midfielder Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) smartly chipped the UC backline, with sophomore forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) running on to the lead pass on the right side of the box. Covered well by a Bearcat defender, Knaack dropped a pass out to Henderson on the right end line, with the Irish attacker cutting back inside for a better angle and unleashing a quick low shot to the far left post at 71:19.
That score turned out to be the first olive out of the jar in a wild second-half scoring spree for Notre Dame, as the Irish found the back of the net four times in a 8:11 span. Rosen was the next to dent the scoring column, potting an unassisted goal at 75:13 after a UC defender tried to clear out a long throw-in by sophomore midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and only succeeded in nodding the ball directly to Rosen’s feet for the eight-yard tap-in from the goal mouth. Just 33 seconds later, Henderson completed her hat trick, as Ford’s long cross-field pass from the right flank bounced high on the Gettler Stadium FieldTurf over a defender’s head on the left side of the area and right to Henderson, who trapped the ball, one-touched back to her right and scorched a right-footed drive from 15 yards out under the crossbar. The Irish then closed out the scoring at 79:30, as Rosen’s free kick from the short right corner (just outside the box) pinballed around the six-yard box before Ford poked home her first career goal.
Cincinnati didn’t go quietly, as Chelsea Kindschuh tracked down a stray pass just inside the top left corner of the area, but her attempted chip over Weiss to the far right post sailed wide of the mark with five minutes remaining.
Notre Dame returns home next weekend for a pair of BIG EAST games, beginning Friday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m. (ET) when South Florida makes its first-ever visit to Alumni Field. Tickets for this, and all remaining Irish regular-season home games, are available by contacting the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356; second floor of Joyce Center at Gate 1), by going on-line to the official Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com), or by visiting the Alumni Field ticket windows on game night.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Henderson is the 17th Irish freshman to register a hat trick (total of 21 freshman hat tricks in 21 seasons), but just the third to do so in the past eight seasons (total of four times) — Weissenhofer was the last to do so with three goals against Penn State on Nov. 24, 2006 (NCAA quarterfinals at Alumni Field), while Hanks notched hat tricks in her first two career games in 2005 (Aug. 26 vs. New Hampshire; four goals on Aug. 28 at Vermont) … it’s the third consecutive season in which Notre Dame has had multiple players record hat tricks during the season (Hanks scored three times in a 4-0 win over Loyola Marymount on Aug. 29) … Sunday’s Notre Dame victory, coupled with a loss by LSU (1-0 at Mississippi State) and a tie by Oklahoma State (1-1 at Colorado) the same afternoon, leaves the Irish as the nation’s lone remaining unbeaten and untied team this season … Dew and Ford notched their first points of the season, giving the Irish a school-record-tying 20 different point scorers through 10 games (the 1996 Notre Dame squad also had 20 point scorers during the course of its 26-game season (24-2-0; NCAA runner-up) … Ford’s score made her the 15th different goalscorer for the Irish this season, just two off the school record also held by that 1996 team … Ford had one point in her career (an assist at Mississippi on Aug. 27, 2006, in her second career game) prior to Sunday’s game at Cincinnati … Notre Dame improves to 8-1-1 all-time against Cincinnati, including a 4-0-0 record since the Bearcats joined the BIG EAST in 2005 (19-1 scoring margin) … the Irish are unbeaten (6-0-1) in seven career trips to the city of Cincinnati (3-0-1 vs. UC, 3-0 vs. Xavier) … Notre Dame extends its winning streak over conference opponents to 41 games (39-0-2), a run that dates back almost exactly three years (4-1 loss at Marquette on Sept. 30, 2005) … the Irish are 115-8-4 (.921) all-time in BIG EAST regular-season games with a 646-76 scoring edge since joining the conference in 1995 … Hanks takes over sole possession of second place on the Notre Dame career goals list with her 74th score on Sunday (her 88th career game), passing Monica Gerardo (73 in 98 games from 1995-98) … Hanks now has 208 career points (74G-60A), putting her one point behind North Carolina’s Robin Confer (209 from 1994-97) for 16th place on the NCAA Division I career points list, and only three points shy of former Irish great Jenny Streiffer (211 from 1996-99) for the Notre Dame record … Hanks and Bock reached a pair of classmate milestones in the Irish record book — together they now have 115 career goals (Hanks – 74, Bock – 41), moving into sole possession of third place on the Notre Dame career list (goals by classmates), passing Michelle McCarthy and Rosella Guerrero (114 from 1992-95) … Hanks was credited with her school-record 21st career gamewinning goal on Sunday, and when coupled with Bock’s 14 gamewinning tallies, the current Irish duo breaks the Notre Dame classmate record in that category, a mark previously held by McCarthy and Guerrero (34).