Nov. 22, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Senior All-America forward Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) slotted home a penalty kick with just over three minutes to play in the first overtime to lift top-ranked Notre Dame to a 1-0 victory over Minnesota before a raucous crowd of 3,132 fans at a wind-chilled Alumni Field. The win improved Notre Dame's record to 24-0-0 and advances the Irish to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
Hanks earned the penalty kick try after she burst down the far side of the box and got off a weak shot as she was pulled down from behind. The referee pointed to the spot and Hanks stepped up to take her eighth penalty kick of the season. Minnesota's senior goalkeeper Lindsey Dare played well all night to keep the Golden Gophers in the game, but as she dove to her right, Hanks placed her drive in the bottom left of Dare's net to secure Notre Dame's passage into the national quarterfinals.
Hanks has now netted 13 penalty kicks in her four-year stint with the Irish, including seven throughout the 2008 campaign. About the goal Hanks said, "I'm glad my teammates have all the faith in me to step up and take it and I'm glad I put it away."
Though they did not score the game winner until overtime, Notre Dame had many chances to put the game away in regulation, as they outshot Minnesota by a 26 to 11 margin, including an 11 to two edge in shots on net. The Irish also generated eight corner kick attempts to Minnesota's one.
In the first half, Minnesota came out in an attacking formation and generated the first shot of the game at 1:49 after their only corner kick of the match. The Irish defense held and blocked the attempt. Notre Dame's first good look at goal came at 6:44 when freshman Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas, Berkner) was sent in by Hanks, but she lifted her shot over the bar.
The teams settled in as each side became acclimated with the slick field and the freezing temperatures, and as the half wore on Notre Dame generated the bulk of the scoring chances. One of the best Irish chances of the night occurred as Hanks sent Henderson in with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 16th minute, but Dare was able to charge out and get a leg on Henderson's shot. The ball rolled out to the top of the box and both Hanks and junior forward Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Nequa Valley) both looked like they had an opportunity to shoot the rebound into the vacated Gopher net, but the ball was cleared as each player tried to get out of the other.
Minnesota played an aggressive defense that closed quickly on the Irish all night, but also allowed Notre Dame to spring more and more players with runs into the box. Hanks played last Sunday's game-winning goalscorer, Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit), into the box in the 25th minute, but the sophomore's initial drive was cleared off the line by a Minnesota defender. The rebound caromed back to Augustin, who sent her second shot just high of the Golden Gopher net.
Though the conditions were tough, Minnesota opted to try and break down the Irish defense rather than sit back and try and keep Notre Dame off the board. "Our mentality was that we were coming to play. We never sat back, we played our game the whole way - we played to win from moment one," said Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright.
Minnesota's attacking philosophy almost paid off with just over three minutes to play in the first half as midfielder Julie Rezac sent in a dangerous cross that Irish goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Ranch Bernardo) charged off her line to keep the Gophers from getting a good shot off.
In the second half, the Irish came out with increased offensive pressure as they searched for the go-ahead goal. At 47:24 Augustin again forced Dare to make a save. As she raced toward the rebound, Augustin was able to spot anopen Hanks and feed the ball back to the top of the box where the Hermann Trophy candidate was waiting, but Hanks sent her curling drive over the bar.
In the 57th minute, Augustin took a long throw-in from the far sideline, from which Weissenhofer was able to generate a corner kick attempt. Hanks took the ensuing corner, and senior Carrie Dew (Encinitas, Calif./Costa Canyon) charged in from the top of the box, only to see her header hit the cross bar at 58:59. Dew had another header off of a Hanks corner glance just wide of the Gopher net at 64:16.
Freshman Courtney Barg, who started in the Irish midfield, worked a give-and-go attempt with her classmate Henderson in the 69th minute, but Henderson's header went right at Dare, who made one of her nine saves of the night on the try.
Though their final touch was letting them down, they Irish continued to search for what would probably amount to be the game winner given the time on the clock and the worsening conditions on the field. With just under 15 minutes to play in regulation, junior midfielder Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) sent Weissenhofer in on a breakaway, but a charging Dare forced Weissenhofer to rush her shot and put it wide of the goal. Then at 82:03 Rosen tried her own luck as she blasted a shot from 25-yards out that went just over the cross bar. As regulation came to a close, the Irish had one last attempt off of a corner kick that ended when Augustin blasted a shot wide of the net as the horn sounded and the teams headed to the decisive overtime stanza, where Hanks netted her sixth game-winning goal of the season.
"In the five-minute interval before the overtime there really wasn't a lot for me to say. We're such a driven team right now, the girls were saying it all - "we'll get there, let's keep plugging away," "it'll happen, the goal will come," "let's keep focus, we've been here before," said Irish head coach Randy Waldrum. "You need challenges like this and you're going to run into tough games like this at this point. You're down to the final 16 teams," he added.
In the quarterfinals, Notre Dame will face the winner of the Boston College-Florida State game being played on Saturday, November 22 at 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee Florida.
Post Game Notes: Notre Dame played in its first NCAA overtime contest since 2004, when the Irish tied UCLA 1-1 in the finals (winning 4-3 in penalty kicks for the program's second national title) ... The Irish are now 18-3-8 in overtime under head coach Randy Waldrum, including a 3-0 record in 2008 ... Notre Dame has made it to the NCAA Quarterfinals for fifth consecutive year (and the 12th time since 1994).