Senior Annie Schefter returns to the midfield in 2005, as the Irish look to again dominate possession while embarking on defense of their NCAA title.

Top-Ranked Irish Set For Another Run At NCAA Title In 2005

Aug. 25, 2005

Notre Dame’s 2004 women’s soccer national title sent the Irish where only one other Division I program had gone before, joining the short list of teams with multiple national titles. It had been nine years since the 1995 Irish squad hoisted the NCAA trophy – ending nearly a decade of near-misses and postseason heartache for the Irish faithful.

Now, as the Irish prepare to defend their title, excitement is running high for another promising season.

“On paper, this team actually might be better than the 2004 championship team,” says seventh-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum, already a four-time BIG EAST Conference coach of the year and a finalist for national coaching honors the past two seasons.

“We had a very talented team last season but they also had a great attitude towards training and our overall philosophy. We were able to stay relatively healthy and team chemistry played a key role as well.

“Those types of things again will be the keys for this season. We also will need to figure out the best way to maximize our talent, as we are very deep in the attacking positions and have some really versatile players. We’re all excited for another great year of Notre Dame soccer.”

Notre Dame – which received the NSCAA preseason No. 1 ranking for the first time (after five previous seasons as the preseason No. 2 team) – returns nine starters and 13 of the top-15 players from the 2004 championship team that went 25-1-1 while outscoring its opponents 70-14. Notre Dame allowed just 71 shots on goal in the ’04 season, nearly matching the Irish goal output for the season. The 20 returners accounted for 68 of the 70 goals (97%) and 73 of the 77 assists (94%) during the historic 2004 season.

The Notre Dame veterans include three – versatile fifth-year player Candace Chapman, senior forward Katie Thorlakson and junior midfielder Jen Buczkowski – who previously have earned NSCAA All-America honors, marking the first time since 1999 that the Irish have entered a season with three or more former All-Americans on the roster.

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Senior goalkeeper Erika Bohn has soared to new heights in the past year, earning defensive MVP honors at the ’04 College Cup before being named to the U.S. Under-21 National Team.

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Other returning starters include senior Erika Bohn, defensive MVP of the ’04 College Cup and the 2005 preseason pick for BIG EAST Conference goalkeeper of the year. Sophomore forward Amanda Cinalli – a Freshman All-American and first team all-BIG EAST performer in 2004 – returns up front alongside Thorlakson while senior Annie Schefter and junior Jill Krivacek are back along with Buczkowski, as the Irish forward and midfield starting units return intact (Chapman played mostly as a forward in ’04 but also has starred as an outside back, earning All-America honors in that role during the ’02 season).

The Irish must replace their graduated central defenders – two-time All-American Melissa Tancredi (like Thorlakson and Chapman, a member of the Canadian National Team) and Icelandic National Team standout Gudrun Gunnarsdottir. Junior outside backs Christie Shaner (left) and Kim Lorenzen (right) return as the veterans of the defense, with each owning some experience playing at the central spots.

Other top returners who have served as starters at times with the Irish include junior midfielder/forward Lizzie Reed, sophomore midfielder Ashley Jones, senior outside back/midfielder Jenny Walz and sophomore midfielder/forward Jannica Tjeder (who will miss the ’05 season after suffering an ACL knee injury late in the summer, while playing with Finland at the Nordic Cup).

Notre Dame’s seven newcomers include five highly-regarded players fresh out of high school, in addition to a pair of 2004 signees – forwards Kerri Hanks and Susan Pinnick – who did not play with the Irish in the ’04 national championship season. Hanks was rated the nation’s No. 4 recruit in ’04 before training all fall with the U.S. Under-19 National Team that ultimately competed in Thailand at the Under-19 World Championship (she enrolled at Notre Dame in the spring of ’05). The former Dallas Texans standout twice earned the prestigious Golden Boot Award at the USYSA Nationals, giving her a matching set for her expansive trophy case.

Pinnick was unable to play last fall due to injuries suffered in a 2004 summer van accident with her club team – but she made an inspiring return by joining the Irish in the spring of ’05 and again playing on a high level in the summer with her Carmel Commotion club team.

Each of the four signees has been rated among the nation’s top recruits, led by midfielder Brittany Bock and defender Carrie Dew (a top candidate to fill one of the open starting spots). Their classmate Kerry Inglis is a promising option at either midfielder or outside back while midfielder Rebecca Mendoza is a product of the Dallas Sting club and a member of the Mexican National Team.

Bock is rated as high as fifth on the national recruit charts (per Soccer Buzz) while Mendoza was rated 18th by Student Sports. Dew joined Bock among SB’s top-25 recruits list, with Mendoza among its top-50 and Inglis in the top-100.

Three Irish players – Chapman, Thorlakson and Buczkowski – are among the preseason 25-player watch list for the 2005 Hermann Trophy player-of-the-year award. Thorlakson and Chapman also were named to Soccer America’s 11-player preseason All-America team (Soccer Buzz had Thorlakson on its 12-player preseason team) while Notre Dame players accounted for one-third of the preseason all-BIG EAST team: Chapman, Thorlakson, Bohn and Buczkowski (each of those players, except Bohn, were all-BIG EAST performers in 2004, as were Cinalli, Shaner and Krivacek).

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Sophomore forward Amanda Cinalli is one of six returning all-BIG EAST performers from the 2004 season, when she scored 10 goals and earned Freshman All-America honors.

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The 2005 summer season brought more championship trophies for Notre Dame players, as Buczkowski and Bohn were members of the U.S. Under-21 National Team that won the annual Nordic Cup while four others (Shaner, Bock, Inglis and junior goalkeeper Nikki Westfall) helped F.C. Indiana win the Women’s Premier Soccer League title and the U.S. Open Cup.

The Irish head into 2005 looking to maintain more than just their national ranking – as they also have been world-class in the academic realm, combining for a 3.31 cumulative team GPA. Academic All-Americans Bohn and Schefter lead the way while two others (Jones and Tjeder) turned in a 4.0 semester during their freshman year.

Notre Dame Women’s Soccer 2005 Quick Glance

2004 record: 25-1-1 (NCAA champions; BIG EAST regular-season champs/9-0-1)

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 20/5 (9 starters returning; 13 of top 15 players)

Top Returners:
Katie Thorlakson (F, Sr.; Langley, BC) – ’05 preseason All-American; Soccer America 2004 National Player of the Year (23G-24A); Canadian National Team; career: 37G-38A (70 GP/63 GS)
Candace Chapman (F/D, 5th-Yr.; Ajax, ONT) – ’05 preseason All-American; 3rd-team all-BIG EAST in ’04, as F (12G-8A); ’02 All-American (D); Canadian Nat’l Team; career: 18G-15A (67 GP/55 GS)
Jen Buczkowski (M, Jr.; Elk Grove, IL) – ’05 preseason All-American; ’04 All-American (8G-11A); ’03 Freshman All-American; U.S. Under-21 National Team; career: 12G-17A (51 GP/48 GS)
Erika Bohn (G, Sr.; Brookfield, CT) – ’05 preseason BIG EAST goalkeeper of the year; defensive MVP of ’04 College Cup; led nation with 0.41 GAA in ’04; U.S. U-21 Nat’l Team; 0.69 career GAA
Christie Shaner (Jr., D; Ambler, PA) – all-BIG EAST in ’04 (3rd tm) and ’03 (2nd tm, rookie of the year)
Jill Krivacek (Jr., M; Geneva, IL) – 3rd team all-BIG EAST in ’04; fills def. midfield role
Annie Schefter (M, Sr.; Yakima, WA) – co-cpt. (with Chapman); 4G-7A in ’04; former U.S. U-19 player
Kim Lorenzen (D, Jr.; Naperville, IL) – regular at right back (50 GP/41 GS in ’03-’04, 3G-4A)
Amanda Cinalli (F, So.; Maple Hts. OH) – Fr. All-American, 1st team all-BIG EAST in ’04 (10G-5A)

Top Newcomers (note that Hanks and Pinnick were ’04 signees)
Kerri Hanks (F; Allen, TX) – 22G in 30 GP with U.S. U-19s; also top scorer with Dallas Texans
Brittany Bock (M, Naperville, IL) – U.S. U-20 pool; 24G for Neuqua Valley HS ’05 state champs
Carrie Dew (D, Encinitas, CA) – 2-time CIF player of the year; product of San Diego Surf club
Susan Pinnick (F, South Bend, IN) – 76G in career at St. Joseph’s HS; Carmel Commotion club

Top Players Lost:
Melissa Tancredi (D) – 2-time All-American; 2-time BE Def. Player of Yr.; Canadian National Team
Gudrun Gunnarsdottir (D) – 4-year regular, joining Tancredi in central D; Icelandic Nat’l Team

Here’s a look at the Irish, by position:

FORWARDS

Any serious look at the 2005 Irish probably should begin with Chapman(Ajax, Ont.), the team’s only fifth-year senior who has proven to be an elite player at two unique positions. The Canadian national teamer earned All-America and BIG EAST defensive player-of-the-year honors with the Irish as a sophomore in 2002, when she revolutionalized the position of right back. Chapman was set to play in the 2003 World Cup but suffered an ACL knee injury while scrimmaging with Canada vs. a men’s team – wiping out her entire junior season.

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Fifth-year veteran Candace Chapman has been a standout right back and forward during her Irish career.

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Chapman returned in 2004 with the option to play forward in her senior season, as Lorenzen had filled in admirably at right back during the ’03 campaign. The transition to the new position – coupled with a lengthy rehab from the injury – took some time but Chapman rated among the nation’s most dangerous frontrunners during the second half of the ’04 season. She finished second behind Thorlakson on the BIG EAST scoring charts with 32 points (12 goals, 8 assists) and delivered two game-winning goals in the push to the NCAA title, including an electric give-and-go sequence with Thorlakson that knocked off Santa Clara in the semifinals.

“Candace may be the only player in the country capable of dominating the way she does at two distinctly different positions,” says Waldrum, who watched Chapman compile 18G-15A in her first three healthy seasons with the Irish (67 games played, 55 starts).

“She has that physical ability to impact the game at either position. We saw so many times last year how she could spark the offense with a high-level play but she also has become such a tough defensive player – she’s hard to beat and has tremendous recovery skills. There’s no other player in the college game who can do all that she does.”

Chapman’s position status will have an affect on the utilization of several other players, as the Irish again look to parlay their tremendous depth into maximum efficiency during the 2005 season.

Thorlakson (Langley, B.C.) appeared to be everyone’s pick for 2004 national player of the year and ultimately was so honored by Soccer America, Sports Illustrated on Campus and Soccer Buzz. She also was one of five finalists for the ESPN-sponsored ESPY Award, in the category of “top female college athlete.”

When the dust settled on the 2004 season, Thorlakson had racked up an NCAA-leading 70 points (two shy of the ND record; 23G-24A) after scoring or assisting on 24 of her team’s final 28 goals. The Canadian national teamer rewrote much of the Notre Dame record book during that historic season and staked her claim to one of the top all-around offensive seasons in the history of women’s college soccer – as former UNC great Mia Hamm is the only Division I player ever to post more goals and more assists in a season (32G-33A, in ’92) than Thorlakson’s 2004 production. She enters her final season with 112 career points in 70 games with the Irish (37G-38A) and could become the 17th player in NCAA history to reach the magical 50G-50A plateau.

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Senior forward Katie Thorlakson returns after turning in one of the top all-around offensive seasons in college women’s soccer history – with 23 goals and 24 assists during that 2004 All-America performance.

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“Katie was the best player in the country for all of last season, so it will be exciting to see what she does for an encore,” says Waldrum. “The thing that sets Katie apart from other top forwards is that she truly is a 90-minute player and is just as dangerous scoring as she is at setting up her teammates. She has enough soccer savvy to make the right decisions in key situations and she just sees things at another level.”

Thorlakson’s wide-reaching offensive skills include accuracy with both feet – often from ridiculous angles – and tremendous precision serving corner kicks (leading to nine Irish goals in ’04). And then there’s the intangibles, like a not-so-subtle enforcer’s mentality that the 5-foot-3 fireplug brings to the field for every game.

“Katie has such a low center of gravity and is so strong that when teams try to intimidate her with physical play, it does not affect her,” says Waldrum. “The harder you play her, the harder she is going to dish it back. That’s a mindset with her and she has all the tools to make you pay.

“It was amazing that she could keep up her pace all last season, even though teams clearly were keying on her.”

Cinalli (Maple Heights, Ohio) had an impressive 2004 season that included Freshman All-America and first team all-BIG EAST honors. The first Irish freshman since 2000 to post double-digit goals (10G-5A, in 27 GP/24 GS), Cinalli proved to be a clutch goalscorer as well – scoring for 1-0 wins at Connecticut and Villanova while notching a pair of game-winning goals in the NCAAs.

“Amanda will be a star to reckon with as her college career goes on and I hope she has a chance with the Under-20 National Team,” says Waldrum. “She can score in a variety of ways and is so crafty on the ball, with different moves and the ability to turn opponents inside and out. We are trying to encourage her to be more selfish with her own chances, as that should boost her goal total while also opening things up for the entire offense.”

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First-year forward Kerri Hanks could take the Notre Dame attack to another level, after ranking as an elite scorer with the Dallas Texans and the U.S. Under-19 National Team.

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Hanks (Allen, Texas) – whose header in stoppage time provided a thrilling end to the 2-2 game with Mexico in the ’05 spring season – could help take Notre Dame’s offense to another level, as a proven goalscorer who should provide even bigger headaches for 2005 opposing defenses as they attempt to slow down the Irish attack.

“Everyone got the chance to see how Kerri can impact things in that Mexico game. She is a flat-out goalscorer and has found ways to put the ball in the net at every level she had played,” says Waldrum of Hanks, who totaled 47 goals in two seasons at Allen High School before ranking as the top scorer on the U.S. Under-19 National Team, with 22 goals in 30 games.

“Kerri has the knack for finding a way to make runs that get her into open space. So many players run vertical and look for thru-balls. But Kerri knows when to show back for the ball, can fade out and in and can set the defense up going away and coming back the opposite way. She knows so much as a forward, watches soccer all the time, her dad played the game – she is one of those classic soccer junkies. On top of everything, she is one of our most competitive players. She just hates to lose – I’m glad she’s on our side.”

Hanks officially enters her first college season with the pair of USYSA Golden Boots tucked away, her focus now shifted to helping the Irish make a run at another national title. She and Thorlakson have the potential to develop into one of nation’s most potent tandems as the 2005 season unfolds.

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Sophomore forward Susan Pinnick has made an inspiring return from injuries suffered during a 2004 team-van accident during the summer of ’04.

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“Both have strong personalities and Kerri already has been a great complement to Katie,” says Waldrum. “They had a nice combination in the spring and have played well off each other in practice. We are really excited about what they can do, along with Cinalli and our many other offensive options.”

Pinnick has completed an inspiring return from the summer of ’04 team van accident that left her and three of Carmel Commotion teammates hospitalized. The South Bend native still began her academic career at Notre Dame in the fall of ’04 and was a regular presence at practices and home games before finally joining the Irish for the 2005 spring season. The encouraging debut saw her score three goals in the short spring season – certainly not the domination (28G-10A) she showed as a senior for the St. Joseph’s High School team that was state runner-up – but prospects remain high for her first full season.

“You never know with a comeback from that type of injury but it’s an amazing story and a tribute to Susan’s determination and spirit,” says Waldrum of Pinnick, who led the Commotion back to the USYSA national “final four” in the summer of ’05 (they were runner-up at the ’03 nationals).

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Senior forward Maggie Manning will be looking to close with a strong final season with the Irish, after ranking among the team’s top forwards in 2003.

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“We have experimented with Susan some in the midfield and feel she can have an impact at either position. She is a tireless competitor, is tough running at people and also is pretty good turning on the ball and with her back to pressure. It’s a big bonus to have another player with such great skills around the goal.”

Senior Maggie Manning (Lake Oswego, Ore.) will be looking to rediscover the form of her sophomore season, when she totaled 4G-2A while appearing in 22 games (her career totals include 7G-6A in 53 GP/6 GS). “Maggie has shown she has the tools to be an impact player. She can score and has the skills to mesh with our attacking philosophy, so we’re hoping for a strong final season from her,” says Waldrum.

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Junior forward Molly Iarocci ranks as possibly the team’s most improved player during the past two seasons.

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Sophomore Molly Iarocci (Carefree, Ariz.) – who logged 18 games in her first two seasons – did not begin playing soccer until high school but steadily has emerged as a dangerous frontrunner, due to her speed and a deeper understanding of the game’s tactics. “Molly is probably our most improved player over the past two seasons but she still has big strides ahead,” says Waldrum. “She can cause problems by slipping behind the defense and we could see her get a few more goals as her finishing skills continue to improve.”

Tjeder – whose busy summer with Finland’s Under-21 National Team included playing at the Nordic Cup and the World University Games – would have been used as a forward or attacking midfielder in 2005 and now will have the option of earning a fifth year of eligibility in 2008. Known for her international flair and deep knowledge of soccer tactics, the Espoo native made the transition to college soccer in ’04 while appearing in 22 of 27 games (8 GS, 1G-3A).

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Sophomore midfielder/forward Jannica Tjeder was primed for a big second season before suffering a season-ending knee injury at the World University Games late in the summer of ’05.

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“It takes foreign players time to adjust to the speed and physical play in the college game and now Jannica will face another challenge in coming back from her injury,” says Waldrum. “She has such a great finesse game and is a composed and creative scorer, with that tremendous ‘soccer brain.’ Jannica had a great spring for us and we were expecting a strong season from her this fall, but she will battle back and be a key for us in the future.”

MIDFIELDERS

Buczkowski (Elk Grove, Ill.) returns as the engine of the Notre Dame midfield, following an All-America season in 2004 that saw her finish third on the team with 27 points (8G-11A, after totaling just 4G-6A in ’03). The composed playmaker shifted from a primarily defensive role in 2003 to a more attacking position in ’04, when she showed a flair for scoring big goals with four game-winners that included a final-minute score at Georgetown and the goals that beat Boston College in both the regular season and the BIG EAST semifinals.

“Jen made big strides last season in being more of an attacking force and I would look for her to continue in that vein this season,” says Waldrum. “She was a key player at the Nordic Cup and her experience playing for the under-21 team should pay big dividends during her junior season.

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Junior midfielder Jen Buczkowski ranks among the nation’s top playmaking midfielders and is coming off an All-America season that was followed by playing a lead role with the U.S. Under-21 National Team at the Nordic Cup.

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“One thing that we can always count on is Jen handling things in the midfield. She makes the rest of things go for us because she is so good on the ball, always composed and in control. That calm affect on the ball makes everyone else around her relaxed. There’s never any panic in Jen and she is such a big confidence-builder for the other players, more than she realizes.”

Buczkowski’s trademark contribution to Notre Dame’s strong possession game is her heads-up dribbling style and control of the ball, rarely letting it stray far from either foot. But her overall production in 2005 actually may get a boost from the fact that a large number of her teammates likewise are strong in the possession game.

“We have so many players who can score goals and set things up for others,” says Waldrum. “Teams can’t come in and say, ‘We have to shut down Jen Buczkowski and we’ll be in good shape’. Jen brings everyone else to another level and usually one of them is going to beat you.”

Schefter (Yakima, Wash.) joins Chapman as a captain of the 2005 squad and again will be at the center of a deep midfield unit. The Academic All-American and prospective medical-school student saw her freshman season wiped out by an ACL injury suffered while training with the 2003 U.S. Under-19 National Team (she has the option to apply for a fifth year in 2006). Schefter returned to play in all 51 games during the ’03 and ’04 seasons (41 starts, 8G-12A) while helping the Irish rack up a 46-4-1 record during those two seasons.

“Annie really has evolved as a leader of the team and has developed a great commitment to the training it takes to be a champion,” says Waldrum of Schefter, a second-generation Notre Dame student-athlete who carries a 3.76 GPA as a psychology and pre-professional double major.

“One of the special things about Annie is her great ‘soccer brain.’ You can throw any tactical situation at her and she can solve it – she’s almost like another coach on the field, nothing gets by her. We can adjust the shape of how are playing and she is right there sorting it out.”

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Junior Jill Krivacek brings an intimidating presence and improving all-around skills to the defensive midfielder spot.

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Schefter ranked fifth on the ’04 team with 15 points (4G-7A), displaying deadly accuracy on long-range shots while regularly setting up teammates with her tremendous field vision and ability to read the play several passes ahead.

Krivacek (Geneva, Ill.) earned third team all-BIG EAST honors in ’04, after settling into the defensive midfielder role in often dominating fashion. The imposing 5-foot-11 presence appeared in 50 of 51 games her first two seasons (29 GS) while delivering most of her offense (3G-5A; 1G-2A in ’04) in big-game situations – including the 90th minute corner-kick header that beat Wisconsin in the ’04 NCAAs and Notre Dame’s final penalty kick in the title-game shootout vs. UCLA.

“Jill is a tall player but she actually had to improve in the air, which allowed her to play more as the holding midfielder. And her emergence in that spot then allowed others to shift into roles that improved the overall efficiency of the team – so Jill’s improved play really impacted more than just one position,” says Waldrum.

“She also is better in her distribution and is so good receiving the ball and being able to keep it with pressure around her. It’s tough to get the ball away from her and that makes her a key starting point for our attack.”

Bock – reunited with fellow Naperville, Ill., native Lorenzen – was getting a serious look at various midfield spots during the 2005 preseason but also could be tried as a forward, especially in the wake of Tjeder’s season-ending injury. The battle-tested newcomer has a wide-reaching soccer resume that includes: four years of experience playing on various U.S. youth national teams; playing up two age groups alongside Buczkowski, Krivacek and Lorenzen on the ’03 Illinois ODP national champs; leading two other teams to national-title games (the ’04 Windy City Pride and ’05 Illinois ODP); playing in ’04 with the elite Black Magic boys club team (and missing her junior season in high school); returning to lead Neuqua Valley High School to the ’05 state title; and, most recently, playing a lead role during F.C. Indiana’s WPSL championship season. She also is a top candidate to play for the U.S. squad at the Under-20 World Championship, to be held in Russia during early fall of 2006.

On top of all her playing experience, Bock also had the rare chance to start her college academic career a bit early by attending summer school at Notre Dame (following a recent NCAA rule change) – adding further preparation for the task that lies ahead of her.

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Freshman midfielder Brittany Bock brings a wide range of skills and playing experience to Notre Dame’s 2005 attack.

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“Brittany is in really good form right now. She played all summer with older players, including some from our team, was involved in training with the U.S. Under-20s and was able to attend summer school. All of those experiences from this summer will help make her transition easier and in many ways she is coming in like a veteran,” says Waldum.

“She is such a multi-dimensional player in both her skills and the positions that she can play. We just need to find out where Brittany fits best for this season and she could play several spots in the same game.”

Waldrum equates Bock to having a combination of skills from two of Notre Dame’s 2004 All-Americans. “Her technique is like Jen Buczkowski’s in that she has great ball skills but she also has a very solid frame and is such a physical presence, more in a Melissa Tancredi mode,” he says. “She is very tough to knock off the ball and that doesn’t even take into account her scoring ability.”

Bock’s individual honors have included earning the Golden Boot Award at the 2003 ODP Nationals and being named to the WPSL all-tournament team – after holding her own against some current and former college all-stars. She totaled 24G-7A in her senior season at NVHS, en route to earning prep All-America honors for the third time.

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Ashley Jones provided a big spark to the Irish midfield as a freshman in 2004 and also could get a look at outside back in ’05.

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Jones (Westlake Village, Calif.) provided a huge spark in the run to the 2004 NCAA title, appearing in all 27 games (six starts) while seeing all four of her assists set up game-winning goals (her lone score came in the BIG EAST title game vs. UConn). A former teammate of Dew’s – as captains of the Cal-South team that won ’04 ODP nationals – Jones has plenty of experience winning national titles, also playing for the So-Cal United team that won the ’04 USYSA girls-18 championship.

“Ashley just kept getting better and better last season. That’s something you hope for from all incoming players,” says Waldrum. “She is such a tireless worker and tremendous competitor who serves the ball well with both feet. Ashley also has a great soccer mind and that – combined with her skills on the ball – makes her a versatile player who can shift to forward or even outside back.”

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Junior Lizzie Reed – who split her 2003 and ’04 starts at midfield, forward and outside back -could see a big boost in her offense during the ’05 season.

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Reed (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) truly filled the role of utility player during her first two seasons, appearing in 50 of 51 games while splitting her 18 starts at forward (7), midfielder (6) and outside back (5). The prep All-American could be due for a breakout year and more defined role in 2005.

“Lizzie is a high-energy player for us and is so good running at people with the ball,” says Waldrum of Reed, whose first two seasons with the Irish included 3G-3A (1G-2A in ’04). “She has the technique and attacking mindset to impact our scoring on a more consistent basis and I think you will see that as she continues to elevate her play in the attacking third.”

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Junior Claire Gallerano will be looking to return to her role as one of the team’s top defensive midfielders, after missing the ’05 spring season due to injury.

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Sophomore Claire Gallerano served as one of the 2004 team’s top defensive midfielders but was sidelined by an ankle injury in the spring and summer of ’05. The Dallas native has logged 19 games with the Irish and will be hoping to be back in the mix for the ’05 season.

“Claire made big improvements from her freshman to sophomore years and provides the hard-nosed defense that we look for in that holding midfielder spot. She is very eager to get back on the field and we fully expect her to be an important piece of the puzzle again this season,” says Waldrum.

Mendoza is yet another member of the program’s Texas pipeline, totaling 77 goals and 58 assists in her first three seasons at North Garland High School. She played sparingly as a senior due to her commitments with the Mexican National Team, alongside former Notre Dame standout and Mexico’s current captain Monica Gonzalez. Mendoza – who holds dual citizenship – most recently led the Dallas Sting to a third-place finish at the 2005 USYSA nationals and also had been a top player for the ODP Region III team. The speedster joins with Tjeder in providing the Irish attack with another dimension, due to her tremendous technical ability and a unique flair to her game.

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Freshman Becca Mendoza will add speed and an international flair to the Irish midfield, after playing for the Mexican National Team program during the past few years.

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“Becca is such a clever and exciting player with the ball – the Notre Dame fans are going to love seeing her play,” says Waldrum. “A key thing for her will be making that physical adjustment to college soccer but I think she will benefit greatly from our possession style. It will bring out many great elements in her play.”

Freshman Beth Koloup (Phoenix, Md.) has played for elite club teams in soccer and lacrosse and will attempt to play both sports at Notre Dame, after signing with the Irish lacrosse team. A proven goalscorer known for her all-around athleticism, Koloup set soccer records at Notre Dame Prep for goals in a season (28) and career (79) while helping Maryland win the 2005 national ODP title (besting Bock and her Illinois side in the final). She also was a member of the Bethesda Excel club team that reached the USYSA girls-16 championship game in 2003.

DEFENDERS

Shaner (Ambler, Pa.) returns as possibly the top all-around defender in the conference, previously earning second team all-BIG EAST honors as a central defender (in ’03) and then being a third team all-BIG EAST performer in ’04 while playing mostly at left back.

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Junior Christie Shaner ranks among the nation’s top tacklers and has the combination of skills to play centrally or at outside back.

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“This is a big year for Christie, with Melissa and ‘Gunna’ graduating. She is going to step up and become one of our defensive leaders, a role she was used to playing in her youth career,” says Waldrum of Shaner, who appeared in 50 of 51 games and started 45 during her first two seasons (totaling 3G-3A).

“Christie does so many things on a high level and has that great versatility to fill multiple roles in the defense. For starters, she is one of the best tackling backs in the college game, just rock solid. She also reads the game well, rarely gets in trouble and is strong both in the air and with the ball at her feet.”

The biggest question for the 2005 Irish ultimately may be where Shaner ends up spending the bulk of her minutes.

“The potential combination of Christie and Carrie in the middle of our defense could be a great tandem. They both have great aerial precision and are hard tacklers and they would help us be able to play more possession soccer with our back four,” says Waldrum.

“At the same time, Christie is so good getting up and down the flank, has a good left foot to get crosses played in and was a great stopgap for us at that left back position last season. The decision on her role will depend a lot on how other players are doing, in terms of the options we have at other spots on the field.”

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Versatile junior Kim Lorenzen returns as one of the leaders of the Irish defense and is considered one of the team’s most valuable all-around players.

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Lorenzen (Naperville, Ill.) – who joins Buczkowski, Krivacek and Bock to form the team’s impressive Chicago Connection – remains one of the most underrated players in the college game, receiving no honors in the 2004 season despite being “the one player that we can’t do without,” according to Waldrum. The versatile junior logged 50 games and started 41 during her first two seasons (with 3G-4A, all in ’04), playing mostly at right back while often pushing into the midfield and even seeing some time at forward.

“Kim adds so many intangibles to the team, beyond her great playing ability. She is a great leader and everyone looks up to her because of her competitiveness and daily work ethic,” says Waldrum.

“She is such a great athlete and physical presence and has become more comfortable handling the ball, which has allowed us to push her forward. There are not many players that can beat Kimmy and, if they do, they probably are going to have to beat her more than once because she’s going to recover. She also is such great server of the ball and is becoming very accurate on set pieces, with tremendous bend on her free kicks.”

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Freshman Carrie Dew is expected to play a key role in 2005, as a probable starter at one of the two open spots in the central defense.

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The 5-foot-9 Dew (Encinitas, Calif.) appears ready to help fill the void at central defense, following a stellar career at La Costa Canyon High School (36G-25A, with 107 starts) and with the elite San Diego Surf club team, in addition to playing with ODP Region IV and the U.S. Under-16 and U-17 national-team programs. The three-time prep All-American also recently earned a spot on the USASA Under-23 National Select Team, playing a pair of games versus her future Notre Dame classmate Mendoza and the Mexican National Team.

“We lost a tremendous heading presence in Tancredi but Carrie is equally capable in the air, which is something you need in the back. She also will give us a boost in technical ability at that position and is very experienced at reading the game and maintaining her positioning,” says Waldrum. “We might be able to play more out of the back this season, with players like Carrie stepping in to give us another dimension defensively.”

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Freshman Kerry Inglis – pictured in action with F.C. Indiana during the summer of ’05 – has the ability to be a top option with the Irish midfield or defense but had been slowed early in the season by an ankle injury.

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Inglis (Fort Wayne, Ind.) played mostly midfield during her youth-soccer days – finishing as the second all-time leading scorer in Snider High School high school history (84G-47A )- but recently has gained experience at outside back, including the past two summers while playing alongside her future Notre Dame teammates with the W-League’s Fort Wayne Fever (’04) and the WPSL’s F.C. Indiana (’05).

“Kerry is like Brittany in the fact that she already has some experience playing with older players and there’s not much you can throw at her that will intimidate her,” says Waldrum. “She is so good with the ball, very skillful and reminds us a lot of Kim Lorenzen due to her athleticism and versatility. Kerry has all the components to handle a defensive or midfield spot, making her yet another very valuable member of this team.”

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Senior Jenny Walz – who first joined the Irish as a midifelder – has emerged as one of the team’s top outside backs but was faced with battling back from injury to start the ’05 season.

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Walz (Bloomington, Ill.) first caught the attention of the Irish coaches after attending the 2001 Notre Dame soccer camp and has developed into one of the top options on the flanks, appearing in 32 games during the ’02 and ’04 seasons (8 GS, 2A). She played primarily as a midfielder in her freshman season (’02) and missed ’03 due to an ACL knee injury, before an encouraging ’04 summer with the W-League’s Fort Wayne Fever, where she first made the transition to outside back. Walz – who has the option to apply for a fifth-year in 2006 – then played in 15 games and started eight in 2004, logging some key minutes during the championship season.

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Senior Miranda Ford adds valuable depth and strong crossing ability to the Irish back line.

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“Jenny adds key depth and attacking skills to the outside back position,” says Waldrum of Walz, who returned to the W-League in the summer of ’05, playing alongside Chapman and Tancredi with the Atlanta Silverbacks. “She has made great progress the past few years and gained valuable experience with two summers in the W-League. At the end of the day, she is one of those unheralded players who are very important to helping us win.”

Seniors Miranda Ford (Portola Valley, Calif.) and Amber McMillin (West Harrison, Ind.) also could see action in the defense, although each has logged time at other positions. Ford – who appeared in 27 games during her first three seasons – has played mostly at outside back, in addition to stints at midfielder and even forward (where her strong ability on crosses can help impact the attack). The hardworking McMillin, whose 16 games with the Irish have included playing various defensive and forward positions, combines with Pinnick and Inglis to give the Irish three Indiana natives on the 2005 roster.

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Senior Amber McMillin has seen time with the Irish as both a defender and a forward.

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GOALKEEPERS

Despite leading the nation in 2004 with a 0.41 goals-against average (third-best in ND history), Bohn was overlooked for most postseason honors during the national championship season – in part due to the team’s dominating play that limited her save total and highlight-reel moments.

That all changed in early December, as the Academic All-American rose to the challenge and was named defensive MVP of the College Cup. The action at SAS Stadium saw the six-foot Bohn snuff out a handful of prime chances for Santa Clara in the semifinals before making six saves in the title game vs. UCLA (compared to her total of five saves in the previous five NCAA Tournament games). Three of those stops versus the Bruins came in penalty-kick situations, one late in regulation to preserve the 1-1 tie and two in the decisive shootout.

Buoyed by her College Cup heroics, the Brookfield, Conn., native went on to earn a spot on the U.S. Under-21 National Team that won the prestigious Nordic Cup in the summer of ’05. She enters her final season with the third-best career GAA (0.69) in Notre Dame history, having logged nearly 5,700 minutes while appearing in 69 games and starting 65 (her 52-11-2 record places her third on the Irish list for career wins).

“Erika is sky-high with her confidence and has become more committed in her conditioning – she has reported in tremendous shape for her senior season,” says Waldrum.

“We really expect her to come in on top of things, because it’s always been the confidence and mental side that make such a difference for her. She always has been so strong in the air and active off her line – and her distribution has improved each year. It should be a great year for Erika.”

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Sophomore Lauren Karas will be looking for a consistent second season in the nets with the Irish in 2005.

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Bohn – whose 967-minute shutout streak in ’03 ranks fifth in the NCAA record book – has a strong chance to join former Notre Dame players Jen Renola and Vanessa Pruzinsky as the program’s third recipient of the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year Award, carrying a 3.67 GPA as an art studio major. She earned second team Academic All-America honors as a sophomore and then was named to the elite first team in 2004, the only non-senior on that 11-player team.

The 5-foot-9 Karas (Flower Mound, Texas) made five starts as a freshman, also coming off the bench in three games while compiling a 1.24 GAA.

“This is a year for Lauren to settle in and show consistency,” says Waldrum. “She has the tools to be a top college ‘keeper. She is strong at shot-stopping and in her reaction time, is good handling the ball with her feet and vocal organizing things in front of her. We expect her to be a future starter and I think you will see a good year from her in 2005.”

Westfall (Waterville, Ohio) – whose first two seasons included a 0.31 GAA in limited duty (13 GP) – received a huge boost in experience and confidence during the summer of ’05 while playing primarily on the potent F.C. Indiana team (she also logged a handful of games with the W-League’s Cleveland Internationals).

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Junior Nikki Westfall helps to give Notre Dame tremendous goalkeeping depth in 2005 and is coming off a strong summer season with F.C. Indiana.

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“The summer was good for Nikki, as it was the most consistent period of her career. She was playing at a high level and we hope that springboards her confidence,” says Waldrum. “Nikki has some areas to work on but her reactions and shot-stopping always have been quite good, helping to make her a penalty-kick specialist. We are excited to see her keep developing