Nov. 12, 2008
NCAA Championship -- First Round
#1/1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-0-0 / 11-0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Toledo Rockets (16-4-1 / 8-2-1 MAC)
DATE: Nov. 14, 2008
#1 Irish To Open NCAA Championship Play Against Toledo Friday Night
Notre Dame (21-0-0) will kick off this year's postseason drive at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when it plays host to Mid-American Conference champion Toledo in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Field. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Irish and Rockets.
The last time Notre Dame stepped onto Alumni Field, it won its 10th BIG EAST title, downing Connecticut, 1-0 in overtime this past Sunday in the conference final. Freshman forward Melissa Henderson was the hero, scoring the "golden goal" at 6:58 of the first overtime.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
As if that weren't enough, Notre Dame welcomes a highly-regarded nine-player freshman class to campus, with three of those incoming players having earned multiple national All-America honors during their prep or club careers.
Leading the way for Notre Dame this season are two of the country's premier front-line players (and '07 NSCAA first-team All-Americans) in senior forward Kerri Hanks and senior forward/midfielder Brittany Bock.
A three-time All-American and the '06 Hermann Trophy recipient, Hanks (18G-10A) continues to blaze new trails through the NCAA and Irish record books, sitting just off the national lead in goals and points this year after setting the NCAA pace in assists the past two seasons A two-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year (including 2008), Hanks is aiming to become the third Division I player to log 70 goals and 70 assists in her career (82G-68A entering Friday's game). She has earned national honors from Soccer America (Team of the Week) and Top Drawer Soccer (Player/Team of the Week) a combined seven times, as well as garnering four BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week honors. She was the only unanimous selection on the 2008 All-BIG EAST First Team.
Bock (6G-9A), one of the Irish co-captains in 2008, emerged as a genuine offensive threat last season, leading the team in goals and finishing second with 36 points (16G-4A). A two-time all-BIG EAST First Team selection (including 2008), Bock earned the league's Offensive Player of the Week honor on Sept. 8, as well as a spot on the Soccer America National Team of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory at No. 3/2 North Carolina on Sept. 5. More recently, she was tapped for the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week on Oct. 21 after registering a goal and four assists in shutout wins at Providence and Connecticut.
Another key player for the Irish this season is senior center back and co-captain Carrie Dew (0G-1A), the two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player. She also is a two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week and a three-time national team of the week honoree, including Monday's selection as the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week. One of three defenders to start ever game for the Irish this season, Dew and the Notre Dame defense have recorded 14 shutouts and a 0.38 GAA, including four consecutive clean sheets to open this season (the first time the Irish have done that since '95).
A Quick Look At Toledo
In previous NCAA tourney action, the Rockets, who also won the '08 MAC regular-season crown, faced Villanova in 2006 (L, 5-1 at University Park, Pa.) and Indiana last year (L, 3-2 in double overtime at West Lafayette, Ind.).
Cornwell owns the team lead in goals (7), assists (5) and points (19). Junior forward Ali Leak is second on the team in points with 12, while Leak and sophomore midfielder Brittany Hensler are tied for second on the team in goals with five. In net, freshman Vicki Traven has started 15 games, while appearing in 18, for the Rockets. She has posted a 14-2-0 record, including nine shutouts, as well as a 0.48 goals-against-average.
Head coach Brad Evans is in his eighth season at Toledo. His record with the Rockets stands at 78-64-16 (.544), while he owns a career ledger of 145-90-18 (.609) when factoring in five seasons (1996-2000) at Division II Ashland. Evans will coach against Notre Dame for the first time on Friday night.
The Notre Dame-Toledo Series
Toledo will be the 53rd team to visit Alumni Field (as an ND opponent) since 1993, the first year the Irish took part in the NCAAs. In those contests, Notre Dame has posted a 48-4-0 (.923) record against first-time visitors to Alumni Field, including a 4-0 win over Loyola Marymount (Aug. 29) and a 3-0 triumph over South Florida (Oct. 3) this season.
Under head coach Randy Waldrum, the Irish are 29-3-0 (.906) in series openers (regardless of site), including their win over Loyola Marymount.
ND In NCAA First Round Play
ND Against The MAC
Irish In The NCAA Championship
The BIG EAST Hardware Haul
Senior All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference choice by the BIG EAST coaches. Also the 2006 recipient of the award, Hanks joins former teammate Katie Thorlakson (2004, 2005) as the only Irish players to earn the trophy more than once. What's more, she set conference records with four BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week selections this season and eight for her career, blowing past the old marks of three in one season and six in a career (both shared by Thorlakson and Seton Hall's Kelly Smith).
For the second time in three years, senior defender/co-captain Carrie Dew was lauded as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Dew is the fourth Irish player to be a two-time recipient of the honor, along with Jen Grubb (1998, 1999), Candace Chapman (2002, 2005) and Melissa Tancredi (2003, 2004), with Notre Dame now having a player garner that trophy for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Freshman forward Melissa Henderson was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, becoming the fourth Irish player in the past six seasons to collect the league's top award for first-year players. She's also the third current Irish player to earn the honor, following in the footsteps of Hanks (2005) and junior forward Michele Weissenhofer, who was the 2006 recipient.
Head coach Randy Waldrum was honored by his peers by being voted the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his 10 seasons at Notre Dame. Waldrum also took home the honor in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2004, and now has earned eight conference coach of the year awards in his illustrious career, adding previous citations in the Big 12 Conference (at Baylor in 1998) and Missouri Valley Conference (with Tulsa's men's program in 1991 and 1993).
The Irish also fielded four first-team all-conference selections -- Hanks, Brittany Bock, Dew and Henderson -- for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Bock also becomes the 15th Notre Dame player to be a two-time first-team all-BIG EAST honoree.
Junior midfielder Courtney Rosen was voted a second-team all-BIG EAST selection, her first career all-conference certificate. Senior defender Elise Weber was an honorable mention all-conference pick this season, earning her second consecutive all-BIG EAST citation, following a third-team honor a year ago.
Notre Dame last was ranked No. 1 in 2006, assuming that post in all the polls by the end of the season's first month and carrying it through to the NCAA College Cup final, where the Irish fell to North Carolina, 2-1 (one of only two blemishes in a 25-1-1 season).
Notre Dame remains the only team in the country to own the No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA poll in four of five years from 2004-08. All-time, the Irish are 89-6-3 (.923) as the nation's top-ranked squad.
As has become the custom on the Notre Dame campus, the traditional lighted #1 sign has reappeared atop Grace Hall, and a #1 flag now flies outside the Irish athletic department offices at the Joyce Center (see note on pp. 26 of this year's media guide).
This year's women's soccer ranking marks the ninth consecutive academic year (starting in 2000-01) that Notre Dame has fielded at least one top-ranked team, with women's basketball, fencing, baseball and ice hockey also reaching the top of their respective polls during that span.
One Tough Slate
Notre Dame has seven wins over ranked opponents (No. 21/12 Santa Clara, at No. 3/2 North Carolina, vs. No. 12/11 Duke, at No. 17/16 Penn State, at No. 17/16 Georgetown, vs. No. 24/18 Rutgers, and vs. No. NR/25 Marquette), with the first three in that series coming in succession and the UNC, Duke, PSU and GU games all coming away from home.
And it's not like the Irish have experience playing SCU, UNC and Duke in a row, having last seen those three powerhouses in succession in 1995 (and not at any point in the same regular season, let alone in a row, since 1999).
The 1-0 win at North Carolina on Sept. 5 was even more noteworthy, as it marked just the seventh time the Tar Heels had ever been shut out at home, and only the fifth time by a Division I team. One of those five was a 0-0 tie (Duke), while the other four were 1-0 losses, two at the hands of Notre Dame (the other came in the '95 NCAA semifinals at Fetzer Field, leading to the first of two Irish national championships).
Numbers Don't Lie
Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents by a staggering 72-8 margin with 14 shutouts this year. As of Nov. 12, the Irish also were second in the nation in scoring offense (3.43 goals/game), as well as fourth in goals-against average (0.38) and fourth in shutout percentage (0.667).
The Irish also allowed just 48 opponent shots on goal all year (24 fewer shots on goal than Notre Dame's goals). By comparison, senior All-America forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks has 49 shots on goal all by herself.
Together, the Irish have registered 247 shots on goal, while their opponents have managed 147 total shots this year. And, Notre Dame has a sizeable 147-42 edge in corner kicks to boot.
Lead, Follow Or Just Get Out Of The Way
The One And Only
Now That's How You Bounce Back
With a victory over Toledo on Friday night, Notre Dame would match the best 40-game stretch in school history (38-1-1), previously set from Oct. 2, 2005-Dec. 1, 2006.
We're Kind Of Used To This, Too
The current streak also marks the sixth consecutive season in which the Irish have reeled off at least 12 victories in a row. Prior to this year's success string, the longest run in that span (dating back to 2003) had been a 15-game winning streak to kick off the 2004 national championship season.
Golden Domers Golden In OT
Notre Dame's second OT win of the season came this past Sunday, when, once again at exactly 96:58, Melissa Henderson scored to secure the 2008 BIG EAST Championship for the Irish. It marked the first "golden goal" in BIG EAST title-game history.
Getting The Jump On The Competition
In 13 of their 21 games, the Irish have scored a goal in the first 20 minutes of play (including five in the opening 10 minutes), with an own goal against Cincinnati exactly 1:00 into the Nov. 2 BIG EAST quarterfinal being the fastest strike of the season. That marked the second-fastest goal in Notre Dame's storied postseason history, not to mention the fourth-fastest of the Randy Waldrum era (since '99).
The last time the Irish got on the board quicker than the Cincinnati game was on Nov. 5, 2006, when Hanks struck 57 seconds into the BIG EAST final against Rutgers (a game the Irish ultimately won, 4-2).
Strong Out Of The Blocks
Beasts Of The BIG EAST
Since joining the BIG EAST, the Irish are 123-8-4 (.926) all-time in regular-season conference games, 32-2-1 (.929) in the BIG EAST Tournament, and hold a 682-81 scoring edge dating back to that first league season in '95.
What's more Notre Dame maintains a 13-year, 87-game home unbeaten streak (86-0-1) versus BIG EAST teams, with Connecticut the lone conference team ever to defeat the Irish at Alumni Field (5-4 in OT on Oct. 6, 1995).
Dude, We're Going Streaking
Notre Dame's 28-game regular-season unbeaten streak also is tied for the third-longest in school history. In fact, it should be noted that, except for a 16-day stretch last September when the Irish lost four times in six games (twice in OT), Notre Dame has not dropped a regular-season game dating back the middle of the 2005 season.
Spreading The Wealth
For the season, a record-tying 17 different Irish players, representing all four classes, have scored at least one goal. Senior left back Elise Weber is the most recent goal scorer, as she gave the Irish a 2-0 lead versus Cincinnati in the BIG EAST quarterfinals on Nov. 2. In addition, Notre Dame has set a new school record with 21 different point scorers this season, with senior forward Kerry Inglis becoming the newest point scorer behind a two-goal afternoon against Seton Hall on Oct. 26.
The previous Irish single-season records for goalscorers (17) and point scorers (20) both were set in 1996 (in a 26-game season).
No Soup For You
The 1995 squad reeled off eight consecutive shutouts to begin what would be a 21-2-2 season, culminating with the program's first national championship.
No Shots For You, Either
Hanks = History
On Sept. 19 at DePaul, Hanks' second-half goal was the 70th of her career, making her the fourth D-I player to amass 70 goals and 60 assists (others are North Carolina's Mia Hamm, Notre Dame's Jenny Streiffer and UC Santa Barbara's Carin Jennings).
Hanks currently stands in eighth place on the Division I career points list with 232 points (82G-68A) following her two assists against Cincinnati on Nov. 2. Her goal and assist against No. 24/18 Rutgers on Oct. 24 moved Hanks past former U.S. National Team player and coach (and North Carolina standout) April Heinrichs (1983-86), while also pulling even with former Penn State and U.S. National Team player Christie Welsh for 14th on the Division I career goals chart.
The national leader in assists the past two seasons (22 in '06; 21 in '07), Hanks also is two assists shy of joining the historic 70G-70A club, a landmark achievement that only two players (Hamm and Streiffer) in the history of Division I women's soccer have managed to attain (and neither got beyond 72G-72A).
One After The Other After The Other
Against Seton Hall on October 26, the Allen, Texas, native had her school-record 11-game goalscoring streak snapped (she did have a goal waved off due to an offsides call), ending what is tied for the fifth-longest in NCAA Division I history, a spot she shares with former Hartford player Maria Kun (1997) and one goal longer than the 10-game streaks by notables such as current U.S. National Team standouts Abby Wambach (2001 at Florida) and Christie (Pearce) Rampone (1996 at Monmouth).
Although her goalscoring streak might have ended, Hanks still has an active career-long 15-game point-scoring streak, breaking the school record set by Hanks' former teammate and current Canadian National Team member Katie Thorlakson from Oct. 14-Nov. 25, 2005 (the final 14 games of Thorlakson's career).
Despite missing last weekend's BIG EAST semifinal and final wins over Marquette and Connecticut, Hanks' streak remains intact. The Irish had a semi-similar situation occur in 1999, when Anne Makinen scored twice on Sept. 5 vs. Duke, then missed four games due to duty with the Finland National Team. Upon her return, she registered points in her next 11 games from Sept. 24-Oct. 27.
Hanks Sets The Table, Too
Bock Stays A-Head Of The Game
Melissa Can't Miss
Iantorno Is One Super Sub
This year, Iantorno has emerged as Notre Dame's "microwave" off the bench, heating up the minute she gets into the game. In fact, less than a minute after subbing into the Penn State game on Sept. 21, the Hinsdale, Ill., native already had chalked up an assist, taking a throw-in, driving to the left endline and whipping a cross into the box that junior forward Michele Weissenhofer buried in the back of the net.
Five days later against Louisville, Iantorno posted a three-point night (1G-1A) less than 10 minutes after coming into the game at the 31-minute mark. First, she delivered a sharp cross at the top of the box that Weissenhofer dummied for freshman midfielder Courtney Barg, who scored her first career goal (33:35). Then, senior defender Elise Weber sent a cross into the box that was misplayed by the Louisville goalkeeper and Iantorno was on the doorstep for the easy finish (40:32).
Most recently on Oct. 26, Iantorno assisted on Kerry Inglis' second goal against Seton Hall (84:24) less than eight minutes after returning as a second-half substitute.
Patience Pays Off For Inglis
However, Inglis' persistence, faith and determination were rewarded on Senior Day (Oct. 26) against Seton Hall, when she earned the first starting assignment of her career. Not content with just enjoying the specter of being in the lineup, Inglis promptly went out and scored the first goal of her career at 11:18 of the first half, knocking home a crossing pass from classmate Brittany Bock.
As if that weren't enough, Inglis tacked on a second goal in the game, scoring with 5:36 left after collecting a loose ball in the penalty box and poking it into the right side of the net.
Notre Dame's Class of 2009 also has a 53-1-2 (.964) record against BIG EAST opponents and has been ranked either first or second in the nation in each of their four years (including No. 1 rankings in 2005, 2006 and 2008).
Our Fearless Leader
Game #21 Recap: Connecticut
Junior forward Michele Weissenhofer earned the assist on Henderson's winning tally when her initial shot from the top of the area was stopped by Connecticut 'keeper Stephanie Labbe, but the rebound squirted towards the goal line and Henderson pounced on the loose ball, poking it home from two yards out.
Notre Dame (21-0-0) still held a significant statistical edge throughout the championship game, outshooting the Huskies, 29-13, with a 15-2 edge in shots on goal. UConn (7-9-6) had the upper hand on corner kicks by a 5-3 margin, while the Irish committed 14 fouls to 11 for the Huskies in what was a physical, yet cleanly-played affair worthy of a conference final.
Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander worked seamlessly with the Notre Dame defense all afternoon, making two saves to record her sixth shutout of the season and the team's 14th clean sheet in 21 games this year. The Irish also now have blanked six of their last seven opponents, including all three BIG EAST Championship.
Henderson, Weissenhofer and Lysander were joined on the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team by senior defender/co-captain and two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Carrie Dew, who also was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player, and senior defender and two-time all-BIG EAST selection Elise Weber.
The Magic Number
Most impressively, Notre Dame is 300-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead and is unbeaten in its past 277 contests when going ahead 2-0 (dating back to a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati). In fact, just two of the past 190 Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have failed to even force a tie, something achieved by four opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (Irish won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at Alumni Field (ND led 2-0, later tied 2-2 and 3-3, ND won 4-3), Duke on Nov. 30, 2007, in the NCAA quarterfinals at Alumni Field (Irish won 3-2), and most recently, Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (Irish won 3-2 in OT).
You Can Put It On The Board
The school record is 55 straight games with a goal from Aug. 29, 1997-Sept. 17, 1999.
A Little Added Face Time
Notre Dame's BIG EAST semifinal win over Marquette also aired live on CBS College Sports, as did last Sunday's OT victory over Connecticut.
In addition to its commercial TV coverage, Notre Dame enjoys an extensive broadcast footprint on the Internet. All of the Irish regular-season home games were broadcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com), with supplemental live stats information provided by CBS College Sports Online's GameTracker service.
Fans also can follow the Irish on their cell phones by signing up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system. This free service is available by logging on the women's soccer page at www.UND.com and scrolling down the right-hand sidebar.
Finally, the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000) remains a reliable resource for all the latest Irish athletics information. Regular updates on the Notre Dame women's soccer program can be found by calling the Hotline, then selecting option 4 and pressing "2".
The Golden Girls
The duo join fencer Mariel Zagunis ('10) as Notre Dame Olympians with multiple gold medals. Markgraf also matches Zagunis' career total of three medals (Markgraf won silver with the USA at the '00 Sydney Games), a standard also equalled by former track & field great Alex Wilson ('32).
Fowlkes Tapped For U.S. U-20 Team
Because of her national team commitments, Fowlkes will miss the balance of the 2008 postseason at Notre Dame. She has appeared in 18 games for the Irish this year, starting six times, with her lone goal being the gamewinner in a 3-1 victory over No. 12/11 Duke on Sept. 7 at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Fowlkes continues a strong tradition of Notre Dame players on the U.S. U-20 World Cup Team (and its predecessors at the U-19 level). Current Irish senior co-captains Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew donned the Stars & Stripes for the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship (as it was then called) in Russia, where the United States finished fourth.
Another Notre Dame senior, All-America forward/Hermann Trophy candidate Kerri Hanks, played for the USA at the 2002 and 2004 FIFA U19 Women's World Championships, helping the Americans to the title in 2002 (defeating host Canada, 1-0 in OT in the final) and a third-place finish in 2004 in Thailand. In the `04 third-place game, Hanks scored the opening goal for the U.S. on a free kick in the 21st minute.
Next Game: NCAA Second Round
Having earned the No. 1 overall seed for this year's tournament (the third time in program history it has been so recognized and first since 2000), Notre Dame will have the chance to play at home through the first four rounds of the tournament, as long as the Irish can maintain their winning ways.
The 27th annual NCAA Division I Women's College Cup will be played December 5 and 7 at WakeMed Soccer Park (formerly SAS Soccer Park) in Cary, N.C., with the national semifinals and title contest to be televised live to a national audience by ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com.