Nov. 25, 2005
PORTLAND, Ore. - Freshman Megan Rapinoe made a big impact from her attacking midfield spot, scoring twice and adding an assist as the No. 1-ranked Portland women's soccer team defeated fifth-ranked Notre Dame in Friday night's NCAA quarterfinal showdown at Merlo Field.
Notre Dame (22-3-0) saw its season come to an end a few games shy of repeating as NCAA champion, with the loss halting one of the most dominant seasons in the program's storied history. Portland (22-0-1) continues on its own dream season and next will face Penn State in the College Cup semifinals.
Freshman midfielder Brittany Bock capped her strong rookie season by scoring in the 25th minute, just six minutes after the Pilots had claimed a 2-0 lead. But Rapinoe scored again early in the second half, restoring the two-goal cushion as the Irish continued to battle in an attempt to get back in the game.
Notre Dame finished with a narrow shot edge (14-13) and had a similar margin in corner kicks (5-4), with both teams placing six shots on goal. The Irish outshot all 25 of their opponents this season and have not been outshot in 76 consecutive games, dating back to their previous NCAA Tournament game that was played on the opponent's field - a 1-0 loss at then-No. 1 Stanford in the 2002 NCAA round-of-16.
The Irish came out dressed in special green jerseys for the first time since that 2002 late-game loss at Stanford and the new look helped inspire the visitors, who controlled the run of play but came just short of generating quality scoring chance during the first 12 minutes of play.
Despite seeing its 13-game winning streak come to an end, Notre Dame did extend its scoring streak to 36 games (tied for the second-longest in the program's history) - while senior forward Katie Thorlakson's patented corner-kick service produced her 35th assist of the season and 73rd of her career, placing her alone in second place on both of those NCAA Division I lists (former ND standout flank midfielder Holly Manthei holds both records after totaling 129 assists from '96-'99 and 44 in the '96 season.
Thorlakson also extended her Notre Dame record point streak to 14 games, ending her career with points in 19 of her final 20 games and 33 of the final 36 (including an earlier 12-game point streak). One of the top all-around offensive performers in the history of Division I women's soccer, Thorlakson registered points in all 16 of Notre Dame's postseason games during the past two seasons (15G-14A, 44 points) while factoring into 57% of the team's goals (29 of 51) during that historic 14-2-0 run through the '04 and '05 postseasons.
The game reversed the result from the 2004 NCAA quarterfinal, when the Irish topped the Pilots 3-1 at Alumni Field and went on to claim the national title. Notre Dame still holds a 7-4-0 series edge in a group of games that now includes six classic postseason showdowns: three NCAA quarterfinal matchups, two NCCA semifinal games (both won by ND, in '94 and '96) and the 1995 NCAA championship game that was won by the Irish. Portland now has handed Notre Dame its only losses in NCAA quarterfinal play, as seven of the eight previous Irish teams picked up that quarterfinal win and advanced to the College Cup's final weekend (UP won at ND's Alumni Field in the 1998 quarterfinal round).
The highly-competitive series had seen the home team go 0-7-0 from 1992-98 (plus two neutral-site wins by the Irish) but the homestanding squad now has emerged victorious in each of the past two ND-UP meetings.
Rapinoe has played on the youth national team with three of Notre Dame's top players, including a stint alongside UP teammate Steph Lopez and two Irish players (Jen Buczkowski and Erika Bohn) on the U.S. Under-21 National Team that won the Nordic Cup during the summer of '05. Rapinoe and Bohn took center stage in the 14th minute, resulting in the first goal of the game.
Portland sophomore forward Natalie Budge played a low pass from the right flank and Rapinoe took the ball before angling towards the center of the field. The former U.S. Under-19 standout (along with Lopez, UP's Angie Woznuk and current ND players Buczkowski and Kerri Hanks) then found herself with space and alertly ripped a shot from 23 yards out. Bohn appeared to be caught flat-footed on the play but the six-foot senior still was able to make a leaping stab at the shot, as the wet ball sailed for the center of the net. Bohn punched the ball but the force of the shot allowed it to carry under the crossbar for Rapinoe's 13th goal of the season (13:59).
"I thought that when they got that first goal, it was huge because we had a great first 15 minutes of the match," said Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum, whose 2006 team will be slated to return eight of its full-time starters.
The hosts added their second goal five minutes after the first, after Rapinoe battled near the left endline and send a rising cross into the heart of the penalty area. Bohn leaped forward off her line and reached for the ball but was unable to hold it, as the ball carried on to the far right side of the box. Senior midfielder Lindsey Huie - who combined with her teammate Christine Sinclair and four Notre Dame players (Thorlakson, Buczkowski, Hanks and Candace Chapman) to provide the capacity crowd of 4,892 with a chance to view six of the 15 finalists for the Hermann Trophy on the field at the same time - was crashing in from the right and one-timed a 15-yard shot that sailed into the open right side of the net for her fifth goal of the season and the 2-0 lead (18:29).
Bock steadily has turned in one of the top seasons ever by a Notre Dame freshman and that continued on Friday night, as the talented newcomer notched her 12th goal of the season to go along with nine assists. Bock became the 13th Notre Dame freshman ever to post 12-plus goals in a season (her 33 points also rank 13th on that ND freshman list), despite sharing time in the midfield and playing an average of just 57 minutes per game.
Hanks (28G-15A; 71 points) and Bock are the fifth pair of Notre Dame freshmen ever to post 12-plus goals in a season and are just the fourth freshman duo in the program's history (first in 10 seasons) with 33-plus points each. The previous Notre Dame freshman duo to each post 33-plus points was the 1996 tandem of Jenny Streiffer (66) and Jenny Heft (36), who went on to become the Irish program's respective career points and goals leaders. Hanks and Bock combined for 104 points, second-most ever by a pair of Notre Dame freshmen behind another forward-midfielder duo in 1997 (when Meotis Erikson had 56 points and Anne Makinen 58, for 114 combined).
Thorlakson's leftside corner kick set up the Irish goal, with the inswinger finding the head of junior defender Christie Shaner near the upper right corner of the penalty area. Shaner headed the ball to her left and Bock - as she did so many other times this season - then showed her tremendous athleticism by surging forward to strike a 15-foot volley into the right side of the net (24:41). The goal gave Bock 21 points (8G-5A) in the final 11 games of the season while Thorlakson notched her ninth corner-kick assist of the season (after totaling eight CK assists in '04).
Notre Dame continued to look for the equalizer early in the second half when the left back Lopez played a pass from the flank into the upper left corner of the box. Rapinoe beat two Irish defenders to the ball and Bohn's charge was too late, as Rapinoe lifted the ball over the `keeper and into the vacated net for what would be the game's final goal (54:21).
Notre Dame continued to press forward in the closing minutes but Portland junior goalkeeper Cori Alexander made several key saves to preserve the two-goal advantage.
NOTES - ND owned a 60-3 scoring edge in its 13-game win streak but Portland sent home three goals (representing 25% of the opponents' combined goal total vs. ND in the previous 24 games) ... Sinclair was held without a point for the second consecutive game and now will attempt to break the NCAA single-season goals record of 37 during the College Cup semifinal vs. PSU ... Hanks saw her seven-game goal streak come to an end (bested just three times in ND history) and failed to tie Amanda Guertin's ND record for consecutive postseason games with a goal (7) ... Sinclair was held to just one shot while Hanks had only two (well below her season avg. of 5.5) ... Thorlakson (18G-35A) and Hanks (28G-15A) fittingly end tied for the team scoring lead with 71 points, one shy of the ND record set by Cindy Daws in '96 ... they are only the second set of Division I teammates ever to reach 70 points in the same season (their combined '05 totals were 142 points, 46 goals and 50 assists, and 5.7 points/gm) ... Thorlakson has factored into more goals (53) than any other player in the country this season and scored/assists on 100 of ND's 180 goals (56%) spanning the '04 and `05 seasons ... Hanks ended up tying Heft's ND record for goals in a season (28, in '98), also good for 18th in NCAA history and 4th-most ever by a D-I freshman ... Thorlakson's 183 career points (55G-73A) ended up 6th in ND history, just three behind Makinen ... her assist on Friday added to Thorlakson's ND record for career postseason points (53; 15G-23A) and career points in the NCAAs (29; 7G-15A) ... Thorlakson played in all 95 games of her ND career (after returning from the 2002 U-19 World Championship), the 5th-longest streak of consecutive games played in the program's history (also 15th on the ND career GP list) ... ND was 18-0-0 in '05 when Hanks scored a goal (4-3-0 when she failed to find the net) ... ND is 339-26-15 (.912) all-time when holding the opponent to 0-2 goals but just 4-30-1 when the opponent scores 3-plus (.129) ... ND's all-time NCAA Tournament record now stands at 35-11-1 (.755) ... the Irish had trailed in just two previous games this season for a total of 77 minutes (Portland led Friday's game for 76:01) ... it marked just the fourth time this season that an ND opponent scored multiple goals (second with 3-plus) ... ND's team-record streak of games with 3-plus goals scored ended at 11 ... in addition to Hanks and Bock, other ND freshman duos with 12-plus goals include Rosella Guerrero (13) and Michelle McCarthy (12) in '92, Cindy Daws (16) and Stacia Masters (13) in '93, Streiffer (22) and Heft (12) in '96, and Makinen (23) and Erikson (23) in '97 ... the ND freshmen with 33-plus points in a season include Hanks and Bock, Daws (52) and Masters (35), Makinen (58) and Erikson (56), Streiffer (66) and Heft (36), Suzie Zilvitis (35 in '88), Alison Lester (33 in '90), Guerrero (33 in '92), Holly Manthei (44 in '94) and Monica Gerardo (51 in '95) ... Buczkowski and senior midfielder Annie Schefter joined Thorlakson in playing in all 76 games during the '03-'05 seasons ... ND held the corner-kick edge in 24 of 25 games during the '05 season ... Chapman logged 92 career games (16th in ND history), closing her career with 41 consecutive games started (at both forward and right back) ... ND's '04 and '05 teams (47-4-1) tied the team record for most wins in a two-year span (the '96 and '97 teams were a combined 47-3-1).
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM ND HEAD COACH Randy Waldrum - "We certainly want to wish Portland all the best. I think these were the two best soccer teams in the country playing tonight and we're rooting for them to take it all now. ... "I think most soccer purists would appreciate Portland's style of play. They've got so many offensive weapons. ... I think if you would have told me before the game that we would hold Christine [Sinclair] in check, I'd have liked our chances. ... "I think this is a great rivalry in a positive way because I think it's two programs that are very respectful of each other and their history.
ND SENIOR FORWARD Katie Thorlakson - "We created enough chances to have a better game but the ball just didn't go our way tonight. ... I'm a fan of both [Penn State and Portland]. I don't think anyone can match [Sinclair]. Anyone she plays with, she makes better. I see Portland as the favorite."
PORTLAND COACH GARRETT SMITH - "This team is surprising me each and every day we go out and play, to have a hard-fought game like that against a talented, talented team that's just as star-ridden as anybody. That Notre Dame gave us everything we can handle, but my team gave us even a little bit more. ... We talk about when we have the ball, it looks like we can create something at any time. That's what it looked like again tonight. ... If anyone has any more questions about Cori Alexander in goal, they need to step forward because I think she answered every test tonight. ... Everyone asks about how you stop us, and I'm thankful that I don't have to figure that out. Everyone else in the country does."
UP FRESHMAN MIDFIELDER MEGAN RAPINOE - "Every game, we just keep playing better and better. We keep playing well, have a lot of momentum and are really confident right now."
UP SENIOR FORWARD CHRISTINE SINCLAIR - "Last year, they did the same thing to us as we just did to them. It's tough losing in the quarterfinals."
UP SENIOR MIDFIELDER LINDSEY HUIE - "When we're playing at our best, I feel like we're unstoppable. But when we don't play at our best, it's tough. ... This team has been playing at its best for quite a few games now and I think that there's not very much that's going to slow the pace that we've got going on right now. ... Tonight we played a team with phenomenal forwards and we were able to contain them for the most part."
#5 Notre Dame (22-3-0) 1 0 - 1 #1 Portland (22-0-1) 2 1 - 3
UP 1. Megan Rapinoe 13 (Natalie Budge) 13:59; UP 2. Lindsey Huie 5 (Rapinoe) 18:9; ND 1. Brittany Bock 12 (Christie Shaner, Katie Thorlakson) 24:41; UP 3. Rapinoe 14 (Stephanie Lopez) 54:21.
Shots: ND 8-6 - 14, UP 6-7 - 13
Corner Kicks: ND 2-3 - 5, UP 1-3 - 4
Saves: ND 3 (Erika Bohn), UP 5 (Cori Alexander)
Fouls: ND 13, UP 9
Offsides: ND 1, UP 0
Yellow Cards: Katie Thorlakson (ND) 88:58