Sept. 9, 1997
No. 2 Notre Dame Remains Perfect with Wins at Washington, No. 3 Portland, Travels to Pittsburgh and West Virginia
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame's second-ranked women's soccer team continues its four-game road trip this weekend with BIG EAST road games at Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The Irish are coming off wins at Washington and third-ranked Portland.
This Week for the Irish: After a pair of non-conference wins, the Irish return to BIG EAST action this week on the road against Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will square off on Fri., Sept. 12 in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The matchup will also be the first-ever BIG EAST game for the Panthers, who enter the conference for women's soccer this year. The Irish and the Mountaineers met for the first time a year ago at Alumni Field, an 11-0 Notre Dame win. West Virginia has started off the season strong with a 3-0-0 record and two BIG EAST wins, including a 2-0 win over 1996 BIG EAST third-place finisher Rutgers.
Last Week: Notre Dame traveled west last weekend in an early season test. On Fri, Sept. 5, the Irish used a game-winning goal by senior midfielder Holly Manthei (Burnsville, Minn.) at 42:56 to hold on for a 3-1 win at Washington. Manthei then assisted on an insurance goal by Jenny Heft (Germantown, Wis.) at 70:10.
On Sunday, Notre Dame traveled to Portland for a matchup with the third-ranked team in the country. In front of a sellout crowd of 5,041, Notre Dame held Portland to just three shots while taking 22 shots of its own. The Irish would capitalize just once at 52:09 when defender Kate Sobrero (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) fought through the midfield and passed to forward Jenny Streiffer (Baton Rouge, La.) Streiffer sent a cross from the left wing to the far post where Monica Gerardo (Simi Valley, Calif.) headed in the ball for the score.
Irish Ground Pilots Again: Notre Dame's win over Portland marked the fifth straight Irish win over the Pilots in six meetings between the two teams, all of which have been one-goal games. Prior to Sunday's games, the last meetings had come in the NCAA championships, in the semifinals in 1994 and 1996 and in the championship game in 1995. In its last 54 games, Portland has lost just four games, all to Notre Dame. The win also snapped the Pilots 42-game unbeaten streak and 25-game home unbeaten streak at Merlo Field, where the Irish are 3-0 against the home Pilots.
Irish Crowd Pleasers: Sunday's win over Portland was played in front of a sellout crowd of 5,041, just one of a number of large crowds that have come to watch Notre Dame. In 1996, the Irish played in front of four record crowds. Notre Dame's first ever trip to Connecticut brought out 3,711 fans to watch the Irish beat the Huskies 2-1 at Connecticut Soccer Stadium. Notre Dame then beat North Carolina in front of 3,000 fans at Duke Soccer Stadium. Santa Clara set a women's soccer record at Buck Shaw Stadium when 3,714 came to watch the Broncos and the Irish. At the 1996 NCAA semifinals and finals, a college women's soccer record of 8,800 watched Notre Dame in the semifinals and finals at Buck Shaw Stadium. Notre Dame won the 1995 NCAA national championship in front of 7,212 in the semifinals and 6,926 in the finals. The Irish are 8-3 in games played in front of 3,000 or more people.
Sobrero, Streiffer Earn BIG EAST honors: Kate Sobrero and Jenny Streiffer have been named BIG EAST players of the week for their performances last weekend. Sobrero assisted on the game-winning goal against Portland and helped hold the Pilots to three shots to earn defensive player of the week honors. Streiffer scored against Washington and also assisted on the game-winner against Portland with a perfect cross from the left wing to earn offensive player of the week honors.
Heft, Gonzalez Lift Irish Off Bench: Two of Notre Dame's top six scorer and its top goal scorer come not from the starting lineup but from the bench. Sophomore Jenny Heft (Germantown, Wis.) and freshman Monica Gonzalez (Richardson, Texas) have sparked the Irish at the forward position but coming off the bench. Heft has been particularly lethal around the net with four goals in four games, the most on the team. Gonzalez has a goal and three assists already and was named BIG EAST rookie of the week after her first two collegiate games. Against Portland, the duo platooned with Gerardo and freshman Meotis Erikson (Kennewick, Wash.) to help keep Notre Dame fresh up front to wear down the Pilots. In the scoreless first half, a Heft header hit the crossbar and a Gonzalez shot from five yards was saved off the line by a Portland defenders, two of the best scoring chances in the game for the Irish.
Notre Dame Outscore Opponent Shots: Through four games, Notre Dame's offense has scored 17 goals while the defense has allowed just 15 shots and one goal. The Irish are averaging almost 34 shots per game while the opposition has taken just under four per game.
Sobrero Continues Stellar Play: Three-time All-American defender Kate Sobrero has played a key role in helping the Irish outscore their opponent's shots. She has been stifling on defense, shutting down any attempts at organized attacks. Also one of the most dangerous offensive threats of any defender in the country, Sobrero has also been instrumental in Notre Dame's offense, assisting on more one-third of the team's 17 goals. Of her six assists this season, her most recent and perhaps most important came against Portland when she made one of her distinctive runs through the midfield and found Jenny Streiffer on the left wing. Her six assists in 1997 already match her career single-season best when she had six assists in all of 1995.
Makinen in the Midfield: Freshman midfielder Anne Makinen (Helsinki, Finland) has already stepped in to be a dominant force in the central midfield for the Irish. Makinen possesses the talent to score from long range with both of her goals coming at least 25 yards from the net. She has also proven difficult to win the ball against with her tremendous ball control skills.
Manthei Tops Among Returning Midfielders: Senior midfielder Holly Manthei enters her final season after collecting the most votes for the 1996 Missouri Athletic Club player of the year award of any returning midfielder in the country. She is also the only active player who was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy in both 1995 and 1996. Manthei has used her pinpoint corner kicks and speedy runs down the left sideline to create and assist on 99 goals in her three-year career, including 44 in 1996, both college soccer records formerly held by national team member and gold medalist Mia Hamm. Manthei's 10 assists in just 13 career NCAA championship games breaks another of Hamm's records, and her five in the 1996 NCAA tournament ties teammate Kara Brown for NCAA single-tournament record.
Head Coach Chris Petrucelli: 1996 BIG EAST coach of the year Chris Petrucelli is in his eighth season as head coach of Notre Dame's women's soccer team after leading the Irish to their third straight NCAA championship game. Petrucelli was named NSCAA coach of the year for the second consecutive year after guiding Notre Dame to its first NCAA women's soccer title in 1995, becoming the first coach to win the honor two straight years. The Orange, N.J., native owns a 135-18-8 record with an .863 winning percentage that is second best among NCAA Division I women's soccer coaches. During his seven seasons as head coach, Petrucelli has coached his players to 17 NSCAA All-America selections, including 14 since 1994, the most in the country during that span.
Irish Among National Leaders: Kate Sobrero stands second in the country with her six assists, tied with Richmond's Krisi Cronk. Notre Dame is 10th in average home attendance with a 793 average from its first two games. Portland and Washington are first and third in the attendance list after the Irish played in front of crowds of 1,671 in Seattle and 5,041 in Portland.
Notre Dame Favored For Third BIG EAST Title: Notre Dame's two-time defending BIG EAST women's soccer champion has been unanimously selected to win its third title, according to the preseason coaches' poll. The Irish received a maximum of 121 points while Connecticut was picked to finish second. Rutgers, Syracuse and Boston College round out the top five.