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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Irish win second national title; defeat UCLA 4-3 on extra penalty kicks

CARY, N.C. - Notre Dame won its second national championship in women's soccer Sunday in sudden victory penalty kicks over UCLA, after playing to a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation and double overtime. Notre Dame secured the 4-3 penalty kick victory after Irish midfielder Jill Krivacek made the deciding kick and Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn deflected UCLA's Lindsey Greco's shot wide to secure the Irish win."[The win will] sink in a little later and how exciting the final was," Waldrum said, "It had a little bit of everything in it."Despite a scoreless first half, the Irish nearly cost themselves their chances of a national title early in the second after an own-goal was scored during the 61st minute of play. Bruins forward Crystal James sent a leap pass beyond the midfield point towards the Irish goal. Irish senior Gudrun Gunnarsdottir looked to have control of the ball as she sent the ball back to Bohn. She came out charging towards the ball, but it went right past her and into the goal, giving the Bruins the 1-0 lead."It was just a miscommunication," Bohn said. "The ball came through as I came out to clear it myself but I called for it. With the big crowd, the other players probably couldn't hear it. It was just a miscommunication."The Irish then looked for several opportunities to tie the score. The opportunity finally came off a controversial call made during the 73rd minute of play. Katie Thorlakson ran towards the ball as she neared the top of the box and was knocked down by UCLA defender Mary Castelanelli. Thorlakson fell within the box and was given a penalty shot. However, Castelanelli placed a hand on the ball outside of the box prior to the penalty, which would have resulted in a free kick from that spot. Instead, a penalty kick was called and Thorlakson took advantage by placing the ball in the back left corner of the net for the 1-1 tie."I didn't even know all of what happened [with the controversial call]," Thorlakson said. "I just knew [the penalty shot] was going in, I didn't have any doubt in my mind." After the goal by Thorlakson, UCLA continued to play aggressively and received a penalty kick during the 85th minute of play when Irish senior defender Melissa Tancredi was called for the foul after tripping Castelanelli inside the box. The Bruins Kendal Billingsley sent the penalty kick to the right side of the goal, but Bohn was there to block the ball from entering the net for her second save of the game. However, the ball was sent past the right end line, setting up a corner kick from the Bruins. The Bruins nearly took advantage of the opportunity and almost scored their second goal of the game, before senior Candace Chapman, on the goal line, kicked the ball to the right end line, setting up another corner kick for UCLA. However, the Bruins once again missed their chance for the lead in the closing minutes of regulation."[After Bohn blocked the shot] I knew we were going to win the game," Chapman said. "[After the corner kick] I was just in the right spot at the right time."After regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, the two teams were unable to score after two 10-minute overtimes. The game went to penalty kicks and required a best-of-five penalty shots for the victory.Thorlakson was the first for the Irish to attempt a penalty kick. Her shot was blocked by a leg-save from Bruins goalie Valerie Henderson. The Bruins then sent Caitlin Ursini for their first attempt at a penalty shot. Ursini capitalized giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead in penalty kicks. Sarah Halpenny was the next player to attempt a shot. This game was only her sixth appearance for Notre Dame this season and her second throughout the tournament. She took advantage of the opportunity by scoring the first goal for the Irish and tying penalty kicks at one apiece."We let the players decide the order," Waldrum said. "Sarah Halpenny just stepped in cold."The next Bruins player was Brynn McGrath who sent her shot wide right of the goal, leaving the score 1-1.Irish midfielder Jen Buczkowski then stepped in and scored for the 2-1 advantage. Her goal was followed by a miss from the Bruins Kim Devine - Bohn's fifth save of the game. Annie Schefter was the next Irish player to score a penalty shot , giving the Irish a 3-1 advantage. Her goal was followed by the Bruins Jill Oakes to make the score 3-2. The fifth Irish player to take a penalty shot was Christie Shaner who failed to convert her opportunity into a goal. UCLA followed with a goal from the Danesha Adams, evening the score 3-3, after the five shots for each team were taken. The game then went into sudden death.The sixth penalty shot was the difference in the game, and the NCAA Championship, as Krivacek knocked her shot through and Bohn was able to make the save on Greco for her sixth, and most important, saveAfter the win, the Irish celebrated their emotional victory. "I'm not an emotional person," Thorlakson said. "But I just started crying." Notre Dame 1, Santa Clara 0Despite sending No. 1 seed North Carolina home in the third round of the NCAA tournament, Santa Clara could not come up with an answer for Notre Dame (24-1-1) during the semi-finals Friday afternoon.Despite facing a first half stalemate against Santa Clara, the Irish took advantage of a key opportunity with only 18 minutes remaining in the second half. Senior Candace Chapman worked the ball towards the net as she sent the ball to Katie Thorlakson right above the box. Thorlakson then sent the ball back to Chapman who was surprised to have the ball sent back to her. "I wasn't expecting to get it back," Chapman said.After taking a second to get control of the ball, she sent the ball to the right of the goal past Broncos goalkeeper Julie Ryder. As the game began coming to a close, Santa Clara could not take advantage of its late game opportunities including a header made by Leslie Osborne during the closing minutes of the game. Osborne tried to knock the ball towards the left side of the goal for Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn to grab to end the NCAA tournament run for the Broncos."We put away zero of our dangerous chances and they put away one of theirs," Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. "And that was the difference."Notes:u The Irish had four players named to the All-Tournament Team. u Forward Katie Thorlakson was named the most outstanding offensive player and goalkeeper Erica Bohn was named the most outstanding defensive player.u Also named to the team were Melissa Tancredi and Candace Chapman. UCLA had five members on the team, and Princeton and Santa Clara each had one honoree.