Nov. 15, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 5-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's soccer team used an offensive onslaught to blast past the Chippewas of Central Michigan, 6-1, in NCAA Championship second round play on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) led the Irish as she scored a first half hat trick and added a program record fourth goal 15 minutes into the second half.
With the win, the Irish (19-3-1) advance to the NCAA Championship round of 16 where they will face Oregon State. As the second seed, Notre Dame will play host to the Beavers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 at Alumni Stadium. Oregon State downed third-seeded Florida in overtime to advance to the Round of 16 for the first time in program history.
Notre Dame snapped the Chippewas' 18 game unbeaten streak and extended their own unbeaten streak to 17 games (16-0-1), including an active 11-game winning streak. Central Michigan, who was making its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance, concludes the year at 17-4-3.
The Irish set the tone early, as they netted their quickest goal of the season at 2:29. Junior forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) fired a shot from distance that hit the crossbar and dropped to the feet of Melissa Henderson inside the six-yard box. The 2009 second team all-BIG EAST selection calmly tucked the rebound inside the near post to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead at 20:59 and again, it was Henderson who inflicted the damage. Junior Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Acad.) worked a give-and-go at the top of the box with Henderson to send the sophomore in with one defender to beat. Henderson worked her way around the last defender and fired a low shot inside the far post for her 15th goal of the year.
Notre Dame's third goal was set up when senior Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) blasted a shot in on the Chippewa goal that CMU goalkeeper Shay Mannino saved but could not hold onto. The rebound fell to a lurking Henderson who nudged home her third of the half at 33:04. With the goal, she became the first Notre Dame player to notch a hat trick in NCAA play since the 2006 season when Weissenhofer netted a hat trick in the second half of Notre Dame's 4-0 quarterfinal win over Penn State. Henderson is also the first Irish player to net a first half hat trick in NCAA play.
The Chippewas got on the board in the second half when Molly Gerst received a pass from Amanda Waugh 10-yards out and deposited a low drive past Irish goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) for her sixth goal of the season, cutting Notre Dame's lead to 3-1.
But the Irish answered with two goals in a four-minute span to put the game beyond reach. At 61:06 junior Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) sent a low free kick in on net from 22-yards out that eluded the Chippewa defensive wall and Mannino for her sixth goal of the season. Then, at 65:19, Henderson put the Irish up, 5-1 when she took a pass in the Chippewa box, beat two defenders and chipped a ball over Mannino for her fourth goal of the game.
Henderson's four goals set a program record for most goals scored in a NCAA Championship game and tie for the most goals scored in a single game, as it was just the sixth time in program history that an Irish player has scored four goals in a game. She joins Kerri Hanks (8/20/05), Katie Thorlakson (10/31/04), Jenny Streiffer (10/11/97) and Monica Gerardo (twice - 10/27/96 & 9/7/95) as the only Notre Dame players to net four goals in a game.
Senior Rachel VanderGenugten (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) scored her second goal in as many games to cap off the scoring when she rifled a shot from 35-yards out that curled into the top right corner of the Chippewa net. Fowlkes was credited with an assist on the goal.
In the Irish net, Weiss went the first 72:30 and recorded three saves for her 12th win of the year. She was relieved by freshman Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh), who was not tested in her 17:30 of play. For the Chippewas, Mannino played 73:34 and made six saves. Kristen Hubright went the final 16:26 in the CMU goal, making one save.
As a team, Notre Dame outshot Central Michigan, 26-5, including a 13-4 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish and the Chippewas finished with two corner kicks apiece, and the Irish committed 14 fouls to CMU's 13.
NOTES: With a hat trick versus USF in the BIG EAST quarterfinals and four goals versus Central Michigan, Henderson became the first player in program history to record more than one hat trick in a single postseason ... Henderson notched her eighth game-winning goal of the season, tying Michelle McCarthy (1994) and Katie Thorlakson (2004) for the program record ... Notre Dame's six goals were the most in NCAA second round play in the Randy Waldrum era and the most since 1997 when the Irish knocked off Nebraska, 6-0, on Nov. 23.