Dec. 3, 2004
CARY, N.C. - Candace Chapman and Katie Thorlakson cashed in a give-and-go in the 73rd minute and the Notre Dame defense posted its nation-leading 16th shutout of the season, as the second-ranked Irish women's soccer team moved on to the NCAA championship game with Friday's 1-0 win over fourth-ranked Santa Clara in NCAA semifinal action at SAS Soccer Field.
Notre Dame (24-1-1) - now the second Division I women's soccer program ever to reach 24 wins in multiple seasons - will face UCLA in Sunday's NCAA title game, at 1:00 EST (live on ESPN2). The Bruins won Friday's earlier semifinal, pulling away from Princeton in a 2-0 game. A win over the Bruins would make Notre Dame the second program ever to win multiple NCAA titles, with the 1995 Irish team becoming just the third program ever to win the NCAA title.
Just minutes after coming out of the TV timeout, Notre Dame's big-game veterans combined for the only scoring in a wide-open game that still featured just a handful of prime scoring chances. The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 8,325 at the home of the former WUSA team, the Carolina Courage - but Chapman and Thorlakson had plenty or experience playing in front of large crowds (including the 2002 Under-19 World Championship, when their Canadian side battled the U.S. in front of a stadium crowd that numbered more than 50,000).
Chapman initiated a rush down the center of the field before playing the ball off to Thorlakson on the right side of the box. Thorlakson - who now has scored (4) or assisted (4) on each of Notre Dame's last eight goals vs. the Broncos - made a touch on the ball and drew the defenders toward her before quickly sending the ball back to her left. Chapman still was filling the middle and trapped the ball off her chest before sending a low 12-yard shot inside the left post for her 12th goal of the season and third of the NCAAs (72:02).
"I thought that they were definitely going to come after me and I didn't have a good angle," said Thorlakson, who now is riding a 10-game point streak and has assisted on 23 of Notre Dame's last 27 goals (including five straight). "I was lucky to get the ball to `Chappy' but she was in the right spot."
Chapman - who has shown a noticeable burst in her pace during the past month, after a long return from 2003 ACL knee surgery - has proven to be a key factor in Notre Dame's push to the verge of the NCAA title, helping overcome the early-season broken leg suffered by senior forward Mary Boland.
"Things started to open up for me and I just got an open look," said Chapman, in describing the goal sequence. "I actually thought that Katie was going to make it in herself, but she passed it back to me. I was kind of surprised to get the ball back."
The Irish finished with an 11-3 shot edge but Santa Clara (18-5-2) posted a rare corner-kick edge (6-5) versus a Notre Dame team that had allowed just 37 corners in 25 previous games this season.
Notre Dame will be making its fifth appearance in the NCAA final (also '94-'96 and '00), second all-time behind North Carolina (20) and followed by Connecticut (4), George Mason (3) and four teams that have made two appearances in the final game (Colorado College, Portland, SCU and UCLA).
The Irish now own a 44-4-2 combined record over the past two seasons (.890) and are one win shy of reaching the rare 25-victory plateau. Only three Division I women's soccer teams - UNC in '97 and '03 (27) and Florida in '98 (26) - ever have totaled more than 25 wins in a season.
Notre Dame's 2004 odyssey started nearly four months ago on Aug. 10, when the team departed for their eight-day training trip in Brazil that included six games vs. top semi-pro teams in the Sao Paulo area.
Both teams had a handful of scoring chances in the first half but neither found the net. The Irish technically had all six shots in the first 45 minutes but the Broncos still had a couple prime chances to claim the first-half lead (ND held a 3-2 edge in first-half corner kicks).
Quotes and updated ND team notes follow below (also check back to und.com on Saturday for additional quotes from the pre-finals press conference and a preview of the ND-UCLA matchup).
Santa Clara (18-5-2) 0 0 - 0
AWESOME ALUMS - Several former ND women's soccer players were on hand to cheer the Irish (some are pictured in the photo gallery) .. those on hand included the inseparable LaKeysia Beene and Kelly "Boof" Lindsey (former stars of the WUSA's Bay Area Cyber Rays), former goalscoring machine Monica Gerardo and 2000 national player of the year Anne Makinen, plus other loyal supporters such as Kelly Tulisiak (cheering on her sister Kate) and recent graduate Kimberly Carpenter ... former ND assistant coach Sue-Moy Chin also was on hand to join in the frivolity (she now is the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Gerardo is the Panthers assistant coach).
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY - ND now owns a 57-12-1 all-time record in postseason play (.821), including 31-10-1 in the NCAAs (.750, 2nd-best all-time) ... since 1994, ND (5) and UNC (8) remain the only teams to make more than two appearances in the NCAA finals during that 11-year stretch ... ND is 5-2 all-time in the NCAA semifinals and has won five of the last six, losing to UNC in '94 and '00 ... ND posted a 5-2 win over SCU earlier in '04 at the ND Classic ... the Irish now are 16-5 all-time in NCAA rematches (7-2 in the six-year Randy Waldrum era) and the ND program has won 8 of the last 10 when facing a rematch in the NCAAs (including recent wins over Eastern Illinois and UConn) ... ND could join 17-time champ UNC as the only teams to win more than one title (SCU, Portland, George Mason and Florida each own one NCAA title).
ND-SCU SERIES - The Irish now own a 7-3-0 series edge vs. SCU, including 6-2-0 in the Waldrum era and 3-0-0 in the NCAAs (also won in '99 semifinals and '00 quarterfinals) ... SCU saw its 11-game winning streak come to an end ... Friday's game was the 8th ND-SCU matchup in the 6-year Waldrum era.
UPDATED TEAM STATS - ND owns an 11-1 scoring edge in the NCAAs (5 GP) to go along with dominant edges in total shots (65-21; avg. 13-4), shots on goal (41-7; avg. 8-1) and corner kicks (33-9; avg. 7-2) ... ND's overall '04 postseason (8 GP) includes a 21-3 scoring edge, 141-36 in shots (avg. 18-5), 71-13 in shots on goal (9-2), 49-10 in CKs (6-1) ... ND's overall season stats now include a 69-13 scoring edge (2.65 gpg; 0.50 GAA), plus 546-144 in shots (avg. 21-5.5), 271-65 (avg. 10-2.5) in shots on goal and 153-43 in corner kicks (avg. 6-1.6) ... ND remains 4th in the nation with a 0.496 season GAA, just behind Princeton's 0.491 (plus Stanford's 0.432 and Penn State 0.466) ... the Irish still have four more goals (69) than opp. shots on goal (65; 2.5/gm) and have held 21 of the last 22 opponents to 0-1 goals (since the earlier 5-2 win over SCU).
IRON WOMEN - 16 previous ND players (from the '96 and '99 teams) share the team record for games played in a season (26) but they have been joined by a whopping 11 current ND players who now have logged 25 GP in '04 ... those players include forwards Katie Thorlakson, Amanda Cinalli and Candace Chapman, midfielders Jen Buczkowski, Annie Schefter and Jill Krivacek, defenders Christie Shaner, Kim Lorenzen and Melissa Tancredi, and top offensive subs Ashley Jones and Lizzie Reed ... Tancredi also become the 13th ND player to start 26 games in a season and can stand alone with that record by starting on Sunday (she and her 10 teammates also could claim the GP record) ... the four backline starters - Tancredi, Shaner, Lorenzen and Gudrun Gunnarsdottir - have combined for 245 career games played at ND (200 starts) ... Thorlakson has started 69 straight games with the Irish while Schefter and Buczkowski each have appeared in all 50 games over the past two seasons and four have played in 49 of the 50: Shaner (47 straight), Lorenzen (40), Reed (39) and Krivacek (34).
POSTSEASON POWER - The '04 ND team has compiled one of the most dominating postseason in the program's history ... ND's +105 shot margin in the '04 postseason (141-36) ranks 2nd only to the 1997 Irish squad (+157, 192-35) while the team's +19 postseason scoring margin (22-3) ranks 3rd behind the '97 (+31) and '96 (+22) teams ... the Irish have featured 9 different goalscorers in the '04 postseason (record is 10, in '94, '96, '97) also have posted 6 shutouts to tie the record set in '95 ... when looking at just the NCAAs, the '04 team owns the 2nd-best shot margin (+64, 85-21; behind +101/124-23 in `97) and has tied that shutout record as well (also 4 in '95).
QUICK HITS - ND still has allowed just 4 first-half goals all season and 26 goals in the past 4 years, spanning 90 games (0.29/gm) ... in the NCAAs, 1st-half dominance now includes 4-0 in goals, 49-6 in shots, 27-3 in shots on goal and 19-3 in corners ... ND has not allowed a 1st-half goal in the last 9 games ... ND owns a 44-1-0 record in its last 45 games when scoring first ... the Irish hold a 28-3 scoring edge over the last 9-plus games ... ND now is 117-20-5 (.842) in the 6-year Waldrum era (he is 301-125-24/.696, in 23 total seasons as a college head coach ... ND has won nearly 80% of its "big games" during the Waldrum era, posting a 48-13-3 record (.773) when facing an NSCAA top-25 or postseason opponent ... stretching from '92-'04, the Irish have scored in 94.8% of their games (293 of 309) ... since a 3-2 loss to BYU (10/19/02), ND has trailed in just 10 of its last 54 games for 269:26 (5.5% of 4,919:29), going 47-5-2 in that 54-game stretch.
THOR THUNDERS ON - Katie Thorlakson (68 points, 22 goals, 24 assists) need 4 points vs. UCLA to tie the ND record for points in a season (72, by Cindy Daws in '96) ... her 68 points now rank 19th in NCAA history while her 24 assists are 11th ... since '99, two current members of the U.S. National Team - Abby Wambach (76, at Florida in '01) and Lindsay Tarpley (73, at UNC in '03) - are the only Division I players to total more points in a season than Thorlakson's 68 ... Thorlakson has 34 points (11G-11A) in her current 10-game point streak, two shy of the ND record (12) set by Anne Makinen in '99 (others who have fashioned 11-game point streaks include Jenny Streiffer and Holly Manthei in '96 and Meotis Erikson in '97) ... she added to her ND record for points in one postseason (25, 8G-9A in 8 GP) and also tied Monica Gerardo's ND record (5G-2A, '97) for points in one NCAA Tournament (12, 3G-6A) ... her 9 assists in one postseason have bested Manthei's ND record (8, in '94) while her 6 assists in the '04 NCAAs also are an ND record (besting Manthei's 5 in '96 and '97 and Kara Brown's 5 in '96) ... she also added to her own ND record for gamewinning assists in one postseason (4, all in the NCAAs) ... already ranks 3rd in ND record book for career assists in the NCAAs (8), with four setting up gamewinning goals (2nd to Manthei's 6 career GWAs in the NCAAs) ... her amazing streak of scoring/assisting on 23 of ND's last 27 goals (11G-12A) dates back to the Oct. 24 Seton Hall game (she was on the bench for one of those rare goals that she was not involved in) ... has scored or assisted on nearly 70% of ND's total goals this season (46 of 69) ... now has totaled 21 points (7G-7A) in eight '04 games vs. top-25 teams ... pushed her career point total to 110 (36G-38A), still 14th in ND history but now just 2 behind Suzie Zilvitis ... has appeared in 69 straight games with the Irish (since '02 U-19 World Champ.) ... with one more goal, she would join Mia Hamm, Tarpley and former SCU great Mandy Clemens as the only players to reach 23G-23A in the same season (she needs 2 goals to rank alongside Hamm as the only players ever to reach 24G-24A) ... has scored or assisted on 15 of ND's 24 gamewinning goals this season (8 GWG, 7 GWA) for a team-leading 23 gamewinning points (35% of the team's total GWP).
QUICK NOTES ON THE UCLA MATCHUP - ND's only previous game vs. UCLA came back in the 1997 NCAA quarterfinals, an 8-0 win for that high-powered Irish team at Alumni Field ... UCLA has three common opponents with ND from the 2004 season, posting 1-0 wins over SCU (2 OT), Stanford and Arizona State (ND also beat Stanford 1-0 and won 2-1 at ASU) ... ND is 19-2-0 the past two seasons (10-1-0 in '03, 9-1-0 in '04) when playing two days after a previous game (51-10 scoring edge) ... that's a big improvement from '02, when the Irish were just 5-5 (21-17 scoring edge) in such "bounceback" games ... ND's only bounceback-game losses in the past two seasons were the '03 NCAA 2nd-round game vs. Michigan (0-1) and the '04 BIG EAST title game vs. UConn (1-2) ... UCLA's Iris Mora has played at ND's Alumni Field the previous three springs with the Mexican Women's National Team ... former ND All-America/Academic All-American Monica Gonzalez is a founding member and current captain of the Mexican team (former ND career goals leader Monica Gerardo, one of several alums in Cary for the College Cup, also was a founding member of the Mexican women's team) ... several ND players are former teammates of UCLA players with various national teams while ND freshman M Ashley Jones has familiarity with several of the UCLA players ... Jones is from Westlake Village, Calif., and completed a rare double this summer by helping lead her state ODP team (Cal-South) and her club team (SoCal United) to national titles ... ND head coach Randy Waldrum on UCLA: "They are a team that we don't play very often. They are a very organized team defensively and they are really difficult to break down. They have a great blend of athleticism. When you get to this point everyone presents some problems and I think that it's going to come down to some key individuals on both teams making some big plays and minimizing their mistakes." ... SCU head coach Jerry Smith on the ND-UCLA matchup: "I think it's going to be a great game. They both have very crafty forwards who are experienced internationally. They are both solid defensive teams. It's a great matchup with two even teams."
ADDITIONAL POSTGAME QUOTES
Randy Waldrum - "Any time you're in this environment, it's a great event. I thought Santa Clara was very good tonight. ... I'm really excited for the program and our players who have put themselves through so much to get to this point. We're anxious for Sunday. ... I think going into tonight, we kind of expected that they would man-mark Katie (Thorlakson), which really didn't bother us too much because she only needs that one opportunity to make things happen. Clearly, she got in during a couple of situations and was able to get herself free and pick up an assist. I think that's a credit to the type of season that she has had for us."
Katie Thorlakson - "I have been marked pretty much all season, but this game was a lot tougher because they actually man-marked me instead of just having four in the back. Strategically, it was done very well but I just capitalized on my opportunity."
Jerry Smith - "I'm very proud of my team today. I want to congratulate Notre Dame. They were very well-coached and have a bunch of great athletes. ... We turned the ball over a lot today. One of the keys in our gameplan was to keep possession and obviously it's hard to do that for 90 minutes. I thought we showed good transition to defense but they transitioned to attack a little better than we transitioned to defense."