Dec. 7, 2007
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Amanda DaCosta's goal in the 72nd minute proved to be the difference in a back-and-forth NCAA semifinal battle on Friday night at the Aggie Soccer Complex, as 14th-ranked Florida State edged 11th-ranked Notre Dame in an exciting 3-2 rematch of the previous year's semifinal. The loss ended Notre Dame's 10-week, 17-game unbeaten streak and prevented the Irish from advancing to the NCAA title game for the seventh time.
Notre Dame (19-5-2) came one win shy of posting its fifth straight season with 20-plus wins, despite owning a 16-7 shot edge and a decisive 7-1 margin in corner kicks. One of those corner kicks led to the first Irish goal, when Carrie Dew volleyed in a leftside service from fellow junior Kerri Hanks. Elise Weber's rocket shot into the upper-left corner of the net later tied the game but DaCosta scored the gamewinner, on a thru-ball sequence that was similar to the first two FSU goals.
Florida State (18-5-3) advances to Sunday's title game and will face Southern California (18-3-2), which posted a 2-1 comeback win over its Pac-10 rival UCLA in the second semifinal. USC first-year head coach Ali Khoshoshahin joins Notre Dame's ninth-year head coach Randy Waldrum (in '99) as the only D-I women's soccer coaches ever to lead their teams to the NCAA title game in their first season as that team's head coach.
The Seminoles scored one of the quickest goals in NCAA Tournament history, as DaCosta set up Mami Yamaguchi for a score just 15 seconds into the game. FSU cashed in a turnover right after the kickoff, with DaCosta cutting down the center of the field before sliding a pass into the top of the box. Yamaguchi ran onto the pass and swept the ball past charging `keeper Lauren Karas for her 24th goal of the season and the early 1-0 lead.
The opening goal gave Notre Dame a deficit for the first time since early in the regular-season finale at Rutgers, ending a stretch of 708 consecutive minutes without trailing (spanning parts of nine games).
Notre Dame gained the game's first equalizer in the 15th minute, after Hanks sent an inswinger from the left flag. Dew was stationed at the far side of the six-yard box and the talented center back smacked a sharp volley that deflected off a FSU defender and into the net for her second goal of the season and sixth of her career (30:44).
The corner-kick service was the 21st career assist for Kerri Hanks on a set play and 13th via a corner kick (plus eight on free kicks). Hanks, who finished with three free-kick assists and four CK assists in the 2007 season, also has 15 career goals on set-play/deal-ball situations (seven on free kicks, seven on penalty kicks and one directly on a corner kick).
The assist was the 58th of Hanks' three-year career with the Irish, tying her with recent North Carolina player Kacey White for 12th in NCAA Division I women's soccer history (one behind White's UNC classmate and current U.S. national teamer Lindsay Tarpley). The assist gives Hanks 186 career points (64G-58A), tying her with 2000 Hermann Trophy winner Anne Makinen for fifth in the Notre Dame record book. She now is only three points behind Cindy Daws ('93-'96) and Jenny Heft ('96-'99), who each had 189 career points, while Monica Gerardo (190; '95-'98) is the #2 all-time scorer in Notre Dame history (behind Jenny Streiffer's 211).
Three weeks ago, Dew headed in a corner kick from Hanks for a 2-0 lead in the NCAA first-round win over Loyola Chicago (2-0).
Notre Dame was controlling possession and quality scoring chances for the balance of the first half when the Seminoles retook the lead. FSU's first corner kick of the game helped set up the score, as the Irish failed to clear their zone and it proved costly. Yamaguchi had the thru-ball from the left side of the field and Finland native Sanna Talonen broke free into the box, with Dew anticipating an offside call. Karas again charged out but the 23-year-old freshman placed a shot that snuck inside the far-right post for her 18th goal of the season and eighth of the NCAAs (32:22).
The halftime deficit was the first for Notre Dame in 11 games, since trailing 1-0 to Connecticut on Oct. 21. The Irish went 1-3-0 this season when trailing at halftime, with the only win coming in the overtime battle with UConn (2-1).
The Notre Dame offense came out firing in the first 10 minutes of the second half, most notably in the 48th minute when a partial breakaway saw junior Brittany Bock flare a perfect lead pass for Hanks into the right side of the box. Hanks ripped a shot but `keeper Erin McNulty came up with the sliding save off her foot to maintain the 2-1 cushion.
Two strong chances followed on rightside corner kicks from Hanks, but Michele Weissenhofer and Dew both narrowly missed on header tries from close range. The frenetic start to the second half also included a foul on Hanks near the upper-right corner of the box, but referee Karen Swanner did not award the penalty kick as the Irish had to wait a few more minutes for the tying goal.
Weber's first goal of the postseason tied the game in the 56th minute. The junior left back was holding the ball near the top left corner of the box before suddenly sliding to her right and uncorking a rightfooted shot that hooked into the upper-left corner of the net for the second tie of the game (55:32). Weber finished with one of the top offensive seasons ever by a Notre Dame defender, totaling 13 points on three goals and seven assists.
Bock - who has been a warrior throghout the postseason while battling a painful hip injury - checked out of the game in the 69th minute and did not return until the 81st, after FSU had claimed its third lead of the game. The absence of the strong two-way battler was similar to last week's quartefinal versus Duke, when the Blue Devils scored two quick goals to tie that game while Bock was taking a short breather.
The final 20 minutes provided a tense battle for the deciding goal, with Talonen ultimately making the big play as she shook free of an Irish defender and tapped a thru-ball into the top of the box. DaCosta raced in and slipped her shot under the charging Karas, with the ball ending up in the left side of the net for her sixth goal of the season (71:30).
It marked only the second time all season that the Irish had given up more than two goals and was the first since the third game of the season (Sept. 7 at Santa Clara). Notre Dame trailed for only 72 minutes in the 17-game unbeaten streak but the Irish were playing from behind for 80:08 of Friday's game.
Dew had a chance to tie the game with six minutes remaining, but her corner-kick header went over the crossbar.
NOTES - The attendance for the ND-FSU game (7,507) represented the second-largest crowd ever to witness a game at Aggie Soccer Stadium ... the teams combined for 39 fouls (23 by ND) ... FSU has scored 3-plus goals in all five of its NCAA Tournament games this season ... ND now is 6-3-0 in NCAA semifinal games (all since 1994) ... the teams with the corner-kick edge in those nine games are only 3-6 while the team with the shot edge has lost three times ... senior M/D Ashley Jones played in all 105 games of her ND career and now stands all alone in second place on the NCAA D-I list for career games played, trailing only former UNC player Robin Confer (107; '94-'97) ... senior M/F Amanda Cinalli now is tied for fifth in ND history with 100 career games played ... Jones and Cinalli (205) own the most combined games played of any pair of classmates in ND history ... the ND senior class finished with a 91-10-4 career record (.886) ... the 2006 senior were 28-4-1 in the postseason, with one NCAA title ('04), a runner-up season ('06), a semifinal finish ('07) and another season that ended in the quarterfinals ('05), plus two BIG EAST Tournament titles ('05, '06; also BET runner-up in '04 and '07) ... the seniors went 48-2-2 at home and 40-8-2 on the road in their career while allowing 3-plus goals in only four games during their four seasons ... ND now is 44-13-1 all-time in the NCAAs (.767) ... Hanks extended her ND record for career postseason points to 58 (18G-22A) and now is one shy of tying the ND record for career postseason assists (23; held by her former teammate Katie Thorlakson) ... she also added to her ND record for career points in the NCAAs (33; 9G-15A) and now is tied with Thorlakson and Holly Manthei for the most career NCAA Tournament assists ever by an ND player (15) ... Hanks now needs only two assists to become the sixth D-I women's soccer player ever to reach 60 goals and 60 assists in her career ... she has points in 21 of 24 career postseason games with the Irish ... her career avg. of 2.39 points per game remains best in ND history while her 0.82 goals/gm is just shy of Jenny Heft's record (0.83) ... Hanks (22 in '06, 21 in '07), Manthei and Thorlakson are the only ND players ever to total 21-plus assists in multiple seasons ... Yamaguchi leads the nation in points (66), followed by Texas A&M's Ashley Pistorius (59), UCLA's Lauren Cheney (57) and Hanks (49) ... Hanks (21) and Yamaguchi (18) are the nation's assist leaders and are the only players with 14-plus goals and 14-plus assists ... the Irish ended the season with a 25-game scoring streak ... ND was 18-3-1 this season when outshooting the opponent (also lost to Oklahoma State and Penn State) and 14-3-1 when owning the CK edge (also lost to Santa Clara and OK State) ... ND was outshot only four times all season and only once in the final 22 games ... Weber's goal was her first ever in any postseason game ... ND had a 40-10 scoring edge at home this season but only 26-18 on the road ... Weber was ND's third-leading scorer on the road this season, with nine points (3G-3A) ... ND is only 4-32-1 all-time (.122) when allowing 3-plus goals, compared to 386-30-18 (.910) when allowing 0-2 goals ... ND now is 164-25-7 (.855) in the current decade ... Karas finished with a 54-5-2 career record (.902), leaving her just shy of Jen Renola's ND record for career win pct. (.903; 87-8-3) ... ND played three teams from the same conference in the NCAAs (UNC, Duke and FSU, from the ACC) for the first time ... it also was the first time ND ever has played three straight games (at any time in a season) vs. the ACC ... Randy Waldrum (.772; 292-79-20) remains fourth on the NCAA all-time win pct. list for D-I coaches (min. 10 D-I seasons), behind UNC's Anson Dorrance (.941), former Portland coach Clive Charles (.799) and current UCLA coach Jillian Ellis (.780; also coached at Illinois) ... Waldrum is 184-29-8 (.851) in nine seasons with the Irish ... ND's 23 players with eligibility remaining combined for 91% of the team's goals this season (60 of 66), 84% of the assists (58 of 69) and 89& of the points (178 of 201) ... freshman center back Lauren Fowlkes led the team with 2,324 minutes played (89.4/gm and 97.2% of the total minutes) while Dew was second at 2,270 (87.3/gm; 94.9%) ... that pair has combined to log more than 4,500 minutes of game time this season (4,594) ... ND has the third-most combined soccer wins this season (33-9-7; 19-5-2 women and 14-4-5 men), with BIG EAST schools occupying three of the top-four spots (the ND men will play an NCAA quarterfinal at Wake Forest on Dec. 8) ... Furman is first on that list (35-10-1; 16-6-1 women; 19-4-0 men), followed by UConn (34-8-3; 14-6-2 women; 20-2-1 men), ND, West Virginia (32-11-4; 18-5-2 women; 14-6-2 men) and Wake Forest (32-9-5; 13-7-3 women; 19-2-2 men) ... UConn and WFU also advanced to the men's quarterfinals ...ND and UConn were the only schools that sent both its women's and men's teams to the quarterfinal rounds of the respective 2007 NCAA Tournaments (ND, UConn and WFU were the only schools in the round-of-16 in both tournaments) ... ND, WVU and WFU were the only schools with seeded teams (top-16) in both the men's and women's NCAA draws ... ND is the only school with women's and men's players among the final-15 candidates (semifinals) for the respective 2007 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy awards ... ND has three players on the women's list (Hanks, Bock and Cinalli) while the men's squad is represented by senior F Joe Lapira ... a win by the Irish men over WFU would make Notre Dame the seventh school ever to send both its men's and women's soccer teams on to the NCAA semifinals in the same season ... that feat has been accomplished a total of nine times (including three by Santa Clara and two by North Carolina), with UCLA (in 2006) the only team to do so since 2001 ... that 2001 season (by North Carolina) is the only time that a school has seen its men's and women's teams play in the NCAA title game during the same season (the UNC men won but the women lost) ...in the 25 previous seasons since the start of the NCAA women's soccer tournament (1982), there have been only nine times when a school had both its men's and women's teams advance to the semifinals (by six different schools): three times by Santa Clara (1989, '98 and 99), twice by UNC (1987 and 2001), plus Connecticut in 1982, Virginia in 1991, Portland in 1995 and UCLA in 2006 ... it has happened only twice since 1999 and the recent four-year "drought" (2002-05) of not having a school with its men's and women's teams in the semifinals matched the longest (1983-86).
Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum - "We want to thank everyone at College Station. What a great event and they did a great job of putting this on. We appreciate that very much. I am disappointed for our team. We had every opportunity to win and certainly want to wish Florida State all the best in the final.
"Their third goal was so late in the game and then you're going against the clock. You're chasing the game. We had been chasing to get back all game. When we tied it up with the second goal, I didn't think we would give a third goal up.
"After the goal 15 seconds in, I thought we had a good 20-30 minutes of really controlling the game. The last 15 minutes of the first half, we both made some changes and they started to get a rhythm. In the second half, we came out strong and had plenty of opportunities, especially on some dead balls and set pieces.
"These kids been resilient all year and fought back and the game just showed their resiliency again. A lot of teams would fall apart completely but we were very resilient in coming back. At halftime, we talked about the job descriptions for a few players and everyone felt we could win. We had a great start to the second half. It's hard to say you were the better team when you don't win but at times we were better. Credit to them, they have some clever players up front who combine very well together. They took advantage of their opportunities.
"They are very clever with their foreign players. [Talonen] is very clever with her runs off the ball. She is not going to beat you with her athleticism but she has good size and really knows how to time her runs and get in between the seams on the back line. And Yamaguchi is just so good with the ball. If you don't keep her closed down all the time, she can really make some things happen. We allowed them a bit too much space in front of our back four and they were able to combine there. They are one of the better teams at combining together up front than I've seen in a while. It's not an easy thing to teach and the foreign kids are very good at it because they see it all the time.
"Going down to Carolina and beating Carolina there, I think our kids felt there was no way we were going to lose again. They had a lot of confidence going in and I thought we were playing very well at the end of the year. [After the 3-4-1 start], it was to a point in the season when we could not afford to lose any more. And we still have a relatively young team and we hope we're back next year.
"The disappointing thing last year in the final versus Carolina is that I don't think we really came out and played our game until the final 15 to 20 minutes of that game. But this time we came out and played well enough to win. At the end of the day, unless you win it all you are going to be disappointed."
Notre Dame Junior Forward Kerri Hanks - "As individual players, we know what we need to do. They had an opportunity and scored and took advantage of it. We've gone down many times and fought back. We came back and tied it up and got down again, tied it back up. They too k disadvantage of their opportunities and scored. We worked hard and fought hard. I'm just proud of my teammates for coming back.
Notre Dame Junior Left Back Elise Weber - "Going into the second half, we came out hard and felt we still could win the game. [My goal] gave us a lot of momentum but we could not put the third goal away. It was a matter of who was going to put it away first and they took advantage of their opportunity before us. They had some very tricky girls up top."
Florida State Head Coach Mark Krikorian - "I'm really proud of our team. I thought that we came in, we fought hard for 90 minutes. I think overall [Notre Dame] probably dominated the game a whole lot more than we did, but our team showed a lot of character and were pretty resilient and we took the chances when we got them. ...
Florida State Senior Defender Libby Gianeskis - "I think we were just more focused on the game today knowing that it's going to be a tough soccer game for 90 minutes. We came prepared mentally and just tried to fight the whole time."
Florida State Junior Midfielder Mami Yamaguchi - "When [DaCosta] got the ball, I was trying to look at the space behind me, and I know she was looking for a space. We always play off each other ... I just played the ball and ran. She came and gave me such a good ball and I just needed to pass the ball into the net."
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