It was a record-setting day for Katie Thorlakson and the Irish Friday as they continued their national title defense with a 5-2 win against Yale in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Thorlakson and Kerri Hanks became the first teammates to ever surpass 70 goals and 70 assists in a season. Thorlakson's last assist - her 34th of the year - put her past ex-North Carolina star Mia Hamm for second all-time in a single season.
"What a great tandem tonight," Waldrum said. "[Thorlakson's] just such a special player and does so many wonderful things for you. Every night she just does something ... it just blows me away the things she can do. And then [Hanks] again was great, just clinical finishing. I hope they keep challenging each other."
Thorlakson had three assists in the game, including one on the third goal when she found Susan Pinnick in front of the net with an open shot. Thorlakson was being forced towards the endline when she found a seam in the defense and somehow fit a pass behind the defender.
"She ain't about the best, she is the best [in college soccer]," Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said. "As far being dangerous and putting the other teams defense under pressure. Constantly when she touched the ball I was scared she was going to score. Every time she touched it, something was happening."
Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Amanda Cinalli and Brittany Bock but Yale did not lose focus. The Bulldogs kept the ball in the Irish zone, applying constant pressure instead of sitting back and waiting for scoring opportunities.
"I told you going in that they were going to be a better team than a lot of people thought they were," Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. "What a dangerous team on the counter- attack. I thought they've been one of the best teams we played all year just making a commitment to defend and attack."
But Notre Dame's own offensive attack was too much. Whenever the Bulldogs would make it a one-goal game, the Irish would respond with a goal to further the gap.
In the first half Laurel Karnes scored at 31:11 to make it a 2-1 game. But Pinnick's goal at 39:16 gave the Irish comfort.
Emma Whitfield's goal at 50:40 made it a 3-2 game, but 13 minutes later at 63:42 Kerri Hanks scored her 27th goal of the season to retake a two-goal lead. Hanks scored again at 84:45 to put the Bulldogs out of the game for good.
"I think it was key that we definitely got those goals after they had scored," Cinalli said. "They were a very good team and they never let down, so it was important that we kept our focus and we played tough throughout the whole game."
Notre Dame advanced to the round of eight with the win and will travel to Portland Friday for a quarterfinals match with the top seed in its bracket. But Irish head coach is not worried that playing on the road will have much effect on how his team plays.
"I guess seeding wise were the underdog going into Portland but I don't think any of our kids will look at the game that way," Waldrum said. "I think they'll just expect it to be a game we're capable of winning like every other game we play."