Nov. 11, 2007
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Kerri Hanks extended her point streak to 12 games with a goal in the 14th minute but host West Virginia tied the score late in the first half and the teams ultimately battled through 110 minutes for a 1-1 tie in Sunday's BIG EAST Conference championship game. WVU goalkeeper Kerri Butler then saved Notre Dame's first try in the penalty-kick shootout and the Mountaineers went on to earn the championship trophy, 5-3 after nine total kicks. As with many similar games across the country this week in various conference tournaments, the game is recorded as a tie and leaves each team with a record of 15-4-2.
Both teams now eagerly await the announcement of the NCAA field, seedings and pairings (8:00 p.m. eastern, on ESPN News). The 64-team bracket will feature 16 seeded teams (four #1s, four #2s, four #3s and four #4s) and most - if not all - of those teams will serve as first- and second-round hosts next weekend (Nov. 16 and 18). Past brackets have sent some of the top-16 seeds on the road for the first weekend of the NCAAs, with those teams still being the top seed among the four at that site. (For example, Purdue came to Notre Dame in 2002 as the top seed at that site, as the Boilermakers did not put in a bid to host that year).
The Ratings Percentage Index is one of the primary selection criteria and Notre Dame entered the week with an RPI of #16 (prior to the 2-0 win over Georgetown and 1-1 tie with WVU). West Virginia had an RPI of #14 before beating Louisville (1-0, in double-OT) and playing to the draw with the Irish. Should Notre Dame be selected as a host site, possible opponents that could round out the Alumni Field bracket include Indiana, Ohio State, Marquette, Loyola Chicago, Oakland and Southeast Missouri.
Notre Dame - which enters the NCAAs riding a 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) - now has suffered four losses and one of its ties to top-25 teams. The Irish have held 16 opponents to 0-1 goals and have allowed more than two goals only once all season. Notre Dame enters the NCAAs having outscored the opposition 39-6 during its unbeaten streak while allowing only 85 shots (6.5/gm), 28 shots on goals (2.2/gm) and 28 corner kicks (2.2/gm) in that 13-game span.
The Irish allowed two shots on goal by the Mountaineers in the game's first five minutes but Notre Dame yielded only one shot on goal over the final 105 minutes - with that shot on goal coming when WVU tied the game in the 39th minute (ND then allowed no shots on goal over the final 71 minutes of game time).
Sophomore midfielder Courtney Rosen picked up an assist for the second time in as many games, after making a run down an open space in the center of the field before chipping the ball with her left foot (from 40 yards out). Hanks raced towards the ball into the right side of the box, with WVU senior outside back Greer Barnes tracking back while Butler was making a late charge off her line. Hanks made a high stab at the bouncing ball and toe-poked the ball with her right foot, sending a slow dribbler in the opposite direction and into the net as Barnes and Butler could only watch as the Irish took the early lead (13:25).
The score gave Hanks a share of yet another Notre Dame record, as she now has scored the first goal in a game 19 times in her career (tying Jenny Heft for the top spot on the ND career first goals list). Hanks now has scored in 18 of 19 career postseason games with the Irish (12 straight), with her 50 career postseason points (17G-16A) now three shy of that Irish record held by Katie Thorlakson (Hanks already owns the ND record for career postseason goals). The goal gives Hanks 25 career points (9G-7A) in BIG EAST Tournament, edging past Thorlakson (24) for yet another team record in her three-year Notre Dame career (her nine goals in the BET also tie Anne Makinen for that ND record while Hanks and Thorlakson now share the Irish record for career first goals in the BET, with three each).
The tie leaves Notre Dame with an all-time record of 29-2-1 in BIG EAST Tournament play, including 10-1-1 in title games. Hanks joins current senior M/D Ashley Jones and two former All-America standouts - Jenny Streiffer and Makinen - as the only Irish players ever to register points in three different BIG EAST title games (Jones could have become the first ever with points in four BIG EAST finals during her career).
The game was a physical battle that featured several exciting runs up the field - and a few near-misses - from each team. West Virginia was able to get the equalizer six minutes before halftime. Kim Bonilla provided the 40-yard service on a right-flank free kick and Carolyn Blank elevated for a header on the left side of the six-yard box, as the cross narrowly avoided the attempted punch from goalkeeper Lauren Karas. Blank's sharp header went into the heart of the box and a trailing Kiley Harris deposited a diving header into the vacated net for the 1-1 score (38:25).
Both teams had chances to claim the lead in the second half but the Irish then dominated the overtime, with five shots (three on goal) and two corner kicks in that 20-minute span (WVU had no shots or corners in the OT sessions). The biggest save of the day came with five minutes left in the second overtime, as Notre Dame's Amanda Cinalli chipped a 10-yard shot that was headed for the right-sidenetting - but Butler leaped to her left and made the tumbling save, helping send the game to the decisive shootout.
NOTES - ND has won eight previous BIG EAST Tournament games ... the Irish were 47-1-0 in their previous 48 games when scoring first ... ND now is 41-3-0 when Hanks scores (spanning the 2005-07 seasons) ... Hanks (178; 63G-52A) moved past Holly Manthei into 7th-place on the ND career points list, five behind her former teammate Thorlakson ... her 63 career goals remain fifth in the ND record book, now two back of Makinen ... Hanks' 12-game point streak is tied for third in ND history (Thorlakson has points in the final 14 games of the 2005 season while Hanks had points in the final 13 games of '06) ... Jones has played in all 100 games of her career and became the eighth ND player to reach that century mark ... Jen Buczkowski (103), Shannon Boxx (101) and Meotis Erikson (101) are the only ND players ever to appear in more games during their ND careers ... the senior class now owns a four-year record of 87-9-4 ... ND had been 16-1-1 in its previous 18 games on the opponent's field ... ND's two previous postseason games that went to PKs came in the 1999 NCAA quarterfinals at Nebraska (ND advanced, 4-3 on PKs; counted as a tie) and vs. UCLA in the 2004 NCAA title game (also 4-3 in PKs; counted as a win).
Notre Dame (15-4-2) 1 0 0 0 - 1
Penalty-Kick Shootout (WVU 5-3, after 9 total kicks)
Shots: ND 4-4-2-3 - 13, WVU 9-3-0-0 - 12.