Sept. 17, 2000
PORTLAND, Ore. – Meotis Erikson’s 50th career goal proved to be a valuable one while the Irish defense held off a late Portland onslaught, as the second-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team remained unbeaten with a 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon over the Pilots at rowdy Merlo Field, in the final game of the Portland adidas Invitational.
Notre Dame (7-0-0) figures to move atop the national polls, due to top-ranked North Carolina’s 2-1 loss to Clemson earlier in the week. The Irish last held the top spot in 1996, when Notre Dame was the nation’s top-ranked team for the final two months of that season.
Portland (7-1-0) made a strong statement for a spot in the national top-25 rankings and nearly became the first team to outshoot the Irish this season (12-11) while holding a 7-3 edge in corner kicks.
The 80-degree sunsplashed game was played in front of a raucous crowd of 3,548, including the spirited “Lions of Batacuda”-a 25-piece drum and dance group that entertained the crowd throughout the game.
“Portland is possibly the toughest team we have played this season and this was a challenging environment for our team,” said Irish head coach Randy Waldrum, whose squad just completed a rugged four-game stretch that included wins over nationally-ranked teams Santa Clara, Stanford and Washington.
“Meotis made a tremendous turn and shot to give us the early lead and we had several chances early in the second half to add to that lead. But it ended up being one of those games where our defense had to make some big stops and they were up to the task.”
Erikson-who also scored the first Irish goal in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Washington-was named the tournament’s offensive MVP while Irish senior Kerri Bakker was named the tournament’s defensive MVP, after helping Notre Dame allow just four shots on goal from her central defender spot.
Senior All-America midfielder Anne Makinen set the Irish goal in motion with a cross from the right flank and Erikson-a native of nearby Kennewick, Wash.-took it from there with some of her classic moves at the top of the box. Erikson received the cross and shook her defender with a turn to her right before striking an 18-yard shot into the upper left corner that sailed beyond the reach of UP goalkeeper Cheryl Loveless.
The Irish had several chances to gain a cushion early in the second half, with Makinen striking a shot from 15 yards out that glanced off the right hand of a diving Loveless before smacking off the left post. Later in the half, freshman forward Amy Warner made a run into the right side of the box and let loose on a quick shot towards the far post-but Loveless again dove to her right and managed to send the near-goal squarely off the crossbar.
Those missed opportunities helped set up a frantic final 15 minutes, with the Pilots having several chances at the equalizer. Earlier in the half, UP senior forward Kylee Barton had a breakaway chance near the right corner of the box, after Irish senior Kelly Lindsey had fallen down, but Barton pushed the ball too far in front of her as she slanted toward the goal and the Irish defense cleared the ball from danger.
In the closing minutes, a Portland corner kick left the ball in the goalmouth area but Lindsey was able to clear the zone. Then, with the clock ticking under two minutes, the Pilots made a run down the left side and played the ball back into the box for senior Vanessa Talbot (who scored the late game-winner in UP’s 2-1 win at ND in the 1998 NCAA quarterfinals). Talbot caught Wagner leaning the wrong way and sent a shot towards the left corner of the goal-but Wagner was able to deflect the ball away with her right leg before colliding with Talbot.
NOTES: All eight games in the thrilling ND-UP series have been decided by one goal, with the Irish owning a 6-2-0 margin (the home team has yet to win in the series, with two of the ND wins coming on neutral fields in the NCAAs) … the Pilots have won nearly 88 percent of their all-time home games at Merlo Field (90-12-2, since 1990), with the Irish handing UP four of those losses (no other team has beaten the Pilots more than twice at Merlo Field) … Makinen has points in six of seven games this season and has 20 points overall (6G-8A) … her 57 career goals and 49 assists leave her one assist shy of becoming the third ND player ever to reach 50 goals and 50 assists in her career … Makinen already has accounted for two ND game-winning goals while providing the primary assist on three other game-winners (her lead pass also set up Warner’s cross that led to the game-ending own goal in the Stanford game).
#2 NOTRE DAME (7-0-0) 1 0 – 1
PORTLAND (7-1-0) 0 0 – 0
ND 1. Meotis Erikson 4 (Anne Makinen) 7:20.
Shots: ND 11, UP 12.
Saves: ND 4 (Liz Wagner), UP 4 (Cheryl Loveless).
Corner Kicks: ND 3, UP 7.
Fouls: ND 11, UP 9.
Offsides: ND 1, UP 1.