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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

ND WOMEN'S SOCCER: Irish shut out Cincinnati and Louisville

By shutting out inferior opponents this weekend, the Irish continued to do what they have been doing all season - further the claim that they are legitimate contenders to repeat as national champions.

Playing two new Big East conference members, Cincinnati and Louisville, the Irish (9-1-0, 3-0-0) easily won 4-0 and 3-0, respectively.

Notre Dame has now shut out its previous four opponents by a combined score of 16-0 dating back to a Sept. 16 win against DePaul.

Friday night, the Irish started off slow, letting the Bearcats hang around longer than they should have. Notre Dame missed a few early scoring chances that allowed the game to be scoreless until the 16th minute.

At 15:49, Carrie Dew finally got the Irish on the board when Annie Schefter sent a pass towards Amanda Cinalli in front of the goal. Cinalli tapped it to Dew, who put it in the back right section of the net.

For the next 20-plus minutes, the Irish kept pressure on the Bearcats, as Cincinnati sat back trying to limit Notre Dame's scoring chances while creating very few chances of their own.

It is this strategy that Irish coach Randy Waldrum feels many teams use against the Irish, trying to keep the score close in order to take advantage of a potential mistake later to score.

It was not until Brittany Bock took a Kerri Hanks free kick and headed it into the goal for her fourth goal of the season at 39:03 that the Irish were able to slowly start pulling away from Cincinnati.

At 69:36, Candace Chapman nailed a cross to Kerri Hanks, who was able to beat the defense for her 14th goal of the season.

Five minutes later, Hanks scored her second, and Notre Dame's final, goal of the game. Katie Thorlakson sent a pass downfield to Cinalli, who quickly passed the ball to Hanks, who was able to score from close at 75:51.

Waldrum was disappointed by his team's effort Friday night, insisting that the Irish were slow and missed several early scoring chances in the first half.

"I thought we were sluggish, and I could sense it in the warm up," Waldrum said. "I thought the game could have been three or four nothing in the first half."

He also credited the strength of his team, suggesting there are not many teams in the country that could be upset by a 4-0 in-conference win.

"It's interesting to get a 4-0 win and to walk away [feeling that we] didn't play well," Waldrum said. "I don't know if four or five years ago we would have been saying those things."

Despite the fact that the Irish were unable to capitalize on a few early chances, the defense did not allow a real Bearcats scoring chance all night. Cincinnati was credited with three shots on goal to Notre Dame's 27.

"That's again part of the game that's really coming around for us," Waldrum said. "I thought we did a really good job on the defensive end."

Sunday's game had all the makings of a sloppy one - as the rain that fell in Louisville made for tough conditions - but the Irish were able to fight through it and earn their second win of the weekend.

Hanks continued her rapid scoring pace, scoring one and assisting on another in the 3-0-victory.

Like Friday, the Irish got off to a slow start, failing to score their first goal for the first 43 minutes.

At 43:33, Thorlakson sent a corner kick to Bock, who deflected the ball off a Louisville player into the net.

Forty-four seconds later, the Irish scored their second goal, and what looked like a potential scoreless first half suddenly saw Notre Dame with a two-goal lead.

Hanks scored on a free kick when she sent the ball over the Louisville wall into the left side of the net past goalkeeper Deana Waintraub.

The final score came at the beginning of the second half when Thorlakson scored her ninth goal of the season at 49:45.

Thorlakson sent a pass to Hanks, who was unable to capitalize on a goal of her own. Thorlakson collected the loose ball and fired a shot inside of the lower near post for the goal.

Notre Dame was without goalkeeper Erika Bohn again this weekend due to injury, and Lauren Karas filled in, making seven saves against Louisville.

This weekend, Notre Dame will begin a series of four consecutive road games, heading to Marquette on Friday and then flying to South Florida for Sunday's game.

The following weekend, the Irish will head to New Jersey to play Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Notre Dame will not return home until an Oct. 14 game against Connecticut.