Five different ND players have at least three game-winning goals this season (Makinen, Erikson, Guertin, Wagner and Sarkesian).
(Note: more detailed notes for several of these bullet points are contained later in this postseason guide.)
Many followers of women's college soccer wrote off Notre Dame and North Carolina at different stages during the past few months but both teams have made their annual return to the NCAA semifinals.
The Irish, making their 6th trip to the semifinals in the last seven seasons, head into their much-anticipated clash with the Tar Heels as the nation's top-ranked team, cradling an undefeated record (23-0-1) after surviving a 2-1 overtime game with Santa Clara in the quarterfinals. ND lost five starters, three of them All-Americans, from the 1999 NCAA runner-up squad but the Irish have owned the top ranking since mid-September and have been buoyed by a defense that has allowed just eight goals all season.
North Carolina showed unprecedented signs of vulnerability by losing three regular-season games but the Tar Heels have been on a roll since their 1-0 loss at Wake Forest on Oct. 27, winning their last seven games by a combined margin of 28-2.
Second-year head coach Randy Waldrum, whose Irish teams have combined for an impressive 44-4-2 record, contends that North Carolina still sits atop the women's soccer throne.
"Until somebody can beat Carolina a couple years in a row, they still are the team to beat," said Waldrum, the leading candidate for national coach-of-the year honors. "It'll be a great battle."
Notre Dame, which is one win shy of joining UNC as the only teams ever to reach 24 victories in multiple seasons (also in '96), has not trailed for 10 games and has faced just one deficit all season, for 28 minutes in an Oct. 13 game versus Boston College.
Notre Dame junior Liz Wagner has sparkled in the big games, collecting 38 saves and allowing just four goals in 11 games versus ranked opponents and/or in the postseason. Wagner, who leads the nation with an 0.32 goals-against average, never started a game during her first two seasons while backing up All-American LaKeysia Beene (now the Irish goalkeeper coach) and wasn't even guaranteed the starting spot heading into preseason camp. But she has started all 24 games this season while playing 90 percent of the team's minutes in near-flawless fashion.
"I've been saying all along that I think Liz Wagner is the best goalkeeper in the country this year. The fact that she doesn't get the recognition she deserves has been kind of amazing to me," says Waldrum of Wagner, who literally saved the day for the Irish with eight saves-many of them spectacular-in the win over SCU. "Everytime we have needed a big save, she has answered the bell."
The Irish offense is led by a pair of seasoned veterans, with senior forward and Kennewick, Wash., native Meotis Erikson (13 goals, 12 assists) coming on strong in recent weeks to register three goals and five assists in six postseason games, including two game-winning goals and a pair of game-winning assists. Senior Anne Makinen (Helsinki, Finland), a top candidate for national player-of-the-year honors, is a key component in Notre Dame's unique system of three central-based midfielders and leads the team in scoring with 14 goals and 15 assists. With 65 career goals and 56 assists, she still has a shot at becoming just the sixth player in Division I women's soccer history to reach 60 goals and 60 assists in her career.
North Carolina and Notre Dame steadily built on their rivalry during the second half of the 1990s and rank 1-2 among many national records, including all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage (the Irish are 23-6-1/.776 while UNC is 64-3-0/.955). UNC leads the ND series 7-2-2, including a 4-0-1 record in the last five games vs. the Irish.
Friday's matchup will be the fifth in the NCAAs between ND-UNC, with the Tar Heels beating the Irish in the '94, '96 and '99 title games. ND beat UNC in the '95 NCAA semifinalist (1-0) and then beat Portland in the championship game (also 1-0) for what remains one of just three (out of 18) NCAA titles won by a team other than UNC (George Mason won in '85, Florida in '98).
Just four of the previous ND-UNC games have been played at one of those team's home fields, with Friday's matchup representing the eighth neutral-site game in the series (UNC holds a 5-1-1 lead in those games but split with the Irish in a pair of games at Fetzer Field).
Notre Dame and UNC met at both ends of the 1999 season, with the Tar Heels rallying in the season opener for a goal in the closing minutes of regulation before winning in double overtime (3-2). Three months later, UNC topped the Irish 2-0 in the '99 NCAA title game.
The first game of the series produced a 3-0 UNC win in '93 (in Houston) but the rivalry immediately picked up steam on Oct. 2, 1994, when the Irish ended UNC's 92-game winning streak with an 0-0 tie in a game played in St. Louis. UNC got revenge in the '94 NCAA title game (5-0) and beat the Irish in a midseason game the next season (2-0, in Houston).
Six weeks after that 2-0 game, the teams met again in the NCAA semifinals (at UNC's Fetzer Field) and an own goal sent Notre Dame on the championship game, where the Irish beat Portland in triple overtime (1-0) to claim the 1995 NCAA championship.
The Irish beat UNC in the next meeting (2-1 OT, in Durham) but the Tar Heels posted their own OT win at the end of that season, beating the Irish in the NCAA title game (1-0, at Santa Clara).
The '97 and '98 seasons are the only years in the last eight in which ND and UNC have not met in the NCAAs. The teams did play to a 2-2 tie in '97 (at ND) while the Tar Heels posted a 5-1 win over the Irish in '98, with Makinen absent while playing with Finland's national team.
SCOUTING THE TAR HEELS: Detailed information on UNC can be found at their official website (www.tarheelblue.com).
ETTER SOONER THAN LATER?: Notre Dame's NCAA Tournament history versus North Carolina includes three losses in the title game ('94, '96, '99) but a win in the 1995 semifinal ... in nine weeks this season with multiple games, the Irish have fared considerably better during the first game (38-3 scoring edge) than in the second games (16-2), typically falling Friday-Sunday ... ND's series success vs. UNC has come mostly on Fridays of a two-game stretch, including the 1-0 win at UNC in 1995, the 2-1 OT win in '96 (in Durham), the 2-2 tie in '97 (at ND) and the 3-2 OT loss in '99 (at ND) ... since the ND-UNC rivalry picked up steam in 1994, the Irish are 2-1-1 vs. the Tar Heels on Fridays but just 0-5-1 on Sundays (after playing two days earlier, often vs. Duke or in the NCAA semi's) ... ND's only loss to UNC on a Friday (since '94) nearly was a win, as the Tar Feels forced OT with three minutes left to play before posting that 3-2 OT win in '99 (the Irish have gone 26-0-0 at home since that game).
FIVE YEARS LATER: The 2000 College Cup includes three of the same four teams, ND, UNC and Portland, from the 1995 edition, when the Irish beat the Tar Heels and Pilots (both 1-0) to claim the national title ... the other team in that 1995 foursome was SMU, which lost 4-2 to Portland (that remains the Mustangs' only trip to the semifinals).
NEUTRAL OBSERVERS: Friday will mark the 12th game of the ND-UNC series and the 8th played on a neutral field, with the other games being played in Houston, Texas ('93, '95), St. Louis, Missouri ('94), Portland, Ore. ('94), Durham, N.C. ('96), Santa Clara, Calif. ('97) and San Jose ('99) ... the Irish and Tar Heels have met in six different states, including a pair of games in Indiana at ND.
TOUGH TO AVOID THOSE LOSSES: Notre Dame (23-0-1) is the nation's only unbeaten team among 271 Division I women's soccer programs, with just one other team owning a record with two losses or better (twice-beaten Nebraska), following losses in the NCAAs by Furman, Jacksonville and Washington (four teams with three losses, including UNC, are next on that list) ... the Irish headed into the NCAAs without a loss just once previously, in 1997 (also 20-0-1, with that season ending on a 2-1 loss to UConn in the NCAA semifinals).
UM Coach Debbie Rademacher: "Notre Dame certainly is the best team we've seen this year, in terms of all-around and who they can bring in. ... Notre Dame has so many weapons and good speed and everybody is so good on the ball."
ND's Randy Waldrum: "During halftime, I didn't talk to them about anything tactically. I told them, ‘If you want to waste 21 games over the next 45 minutes by playing like you did the first half, then go do it. If you want to play Friday, then go get this thing turned around.' We just weren't focused and that's my responsibility. ... Amanda Guertin is so composed around the box and that showed on her goal. She ran in there with speed, slowed down and settled it before knocking it in. ... You want to see how your players are going to respond under pressure and we've been under that enough times this season. ... We always talk about how Mia Sarkesian and Ashley Dryer don't get enough credit for what they do. When Ashley went out in the first half, we really lost a handle of things in the midfield. To come back with an assist and a goal, it shows how important a player she is for our team."
LONELY SEED: The 2000 Women's College Cup marks the first time that no more than one of the top-4 seeds have advanced to the semifinals ... Portland also is the first team not seeded in the top eight to make the semi's (top-8 seeding began in '94) ... the previous 18 NCAA women's soccer championships have seen the top seed emerge victorious 10 time, with the No. 2 seed winning five, the 3rd seed winning once and the 4th seed winning twice.
TOUGH TO STAY UNBEATEN: Notre Dame's quest for an undefeated season has the Irish gunning for a significant accomplishment in the recent years of women's soccer ... since UNC's 23-0-0 season in 1993, just one of the last six NCAA champions (UNC's 27-0-1 team in '97) has claimed the title without a loss at some point during the season ... 10 of UNC's 15 NCAA titles have featured unbeaten seasons, including four with no ties (1990-93).
BEEN THERE: Second-year ND head coach Randy Waldrum has several things in common with Portland's Clive Charles, in addition to their contributions over the years to various levels of the U.S. national programs ... Waldrum coached the women's and men's soccer teams simultaneously during the '89-'94 seasons while Charles has been pulling double duty with the Pilots since 1989.
BIG-TIME GAME-WINNERS: When senior F Meotis Erikson knocked in the winning goal in last week's quarterfinal game vs. Santa Clara, it represented her third career game-winning goal in postseason play while giving her eight career game-winning points in postseason play (3 GWG-2 GWA, with 2 GWG and 1 GWA in the NCAAs) ... Erikson and classmate Anne Makinen are tied with 1997 graduate Cindy Daws (all with 3 GWG-2 GWA) for third in ND history for game-winning points in the postseason, behind '99 grad. Monica Gerardo (5 GWG-3 GWA, 13 GWPs) and '97 grad. Amy Van Laecke (4 GWG-1 GWA, 9 GWPs) ... despite her limited career scoring (9G-10A), current junior M Mia Sarkesian has posted three GWGs in the postseason (two in the NCAAs) ... Erikson's five GWPs in the NCAAs rank 3rd all-time among ND players, behind Gerardo's eight (4 GWG) and Holly Manthei's six (all GWA, from '95-'98) ... Gerardo (5) and Van Laecke (4) are the only ND players with most postseason GWGs than Erikson, Makinen and Sarkesian (each has three) while Sarkesian and Erikson are two of just five ND players ever to post multiple GWGs in NCAA play (each with two, trailing only Gerardo's four).
KEY SPARKS: Recently-graduated Jenny Streiffer and '97 graduate Amy Van Laecke each opened the scoring in five postseason games during their careers, including three NCAA Tournament 1st-goals for Van Laecke and two for Streiffer ... current ND senior F Meotis Erikson has opened the scoring in three postseason games (once in the NCAAs), good for 4th all-time among Irish players (Cindy Daws had four 1st-goals in the postseason, from 1993-96) ... Erikson scored the first goal of ND's 2000 NCAA action, volleying home an Anne Makinen free kick for an early 1-0 lead on Michigan.
CALI GIRLS: ND's only two California natives currently on the roster include both backup goaltenders, one from the north (sophomore Sani Post, from Davis) and one from the south (freshman Lauren Kent, from Laguna Nigel) ... former Irish G and the team's current 'keeper coach LaKeysia Beene likewise calls NoCal home (Gold River) and was one of the first draft picks of the WUSA's Bay Area CyberRays.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Notre Dame has played in every NCAA Championship since 1993, including eight trips to the quarterfinals, six semi-final appearances, four trips to the title game and the 1995 championship season ... the Irish own an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 23-6-1 (.783), with three of those losses coming at the hands of North Carolina in the championship game (5-0 in '94, 1-0 in OT in '96, 2-0 in '99) ... ND dropped its first-ever NCAA Tournament game to George Mason in 1993 (2-1) while ending the '97 season with an NCAA semi-final loss to UConn (2-1) and a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to Portland at Alumni Field ... the Irish claimed the 1995 NCAA title with a semi-final win over North Carolina (1-0) and a triple-overtime win over Portland in the title game (1-0).
TOP SEED STORY: Notre Dame received the top seed in the 48-team NCAA tournament, marking just the second time that the Irish have been seeded first overall ... the '94 team was the top seed and posted wins over George Mason (3-1), William & Mary (2-1) and Portland (1-0) before losing to North Carolina (5-0) in the championship game.
MAKINEN, SENIORS MAKE FINAL PUSH: Senior M Anne Makinen is putting the finishing touches on her stellar Notre Dame career and is widely considered to be the favorite for national player-of-the-year honors ... Makinen and the team's other fourth-year seniors, F Meotis Erikson, D Kerri Bakker, D Kelly Lindsey and D/F Monica Gonzalez, have helped ND compile a record of 88-8-4 during the 1997-2000 seasons (.900), good for 4th in ND history ... the class of 1998 won 92.1 pct. of its games (91-6-4, from '94-'97) while the classes of '97 (.903, 87-8-3, from '93-'96) and '99 (.901, 89-8-4, from '95-'98) also enjoyed stellar four-year runs ... if ND closes with two more wins to claim the NCAA title, the senior class will finish with a .902 four-year winning pct. (90-8-4) that would rank as the 3rd-best winning pct. and 2nd-most wins during any four-year period of the ND women's soccer 13-year history.
SCOUTING THE IRISH: Notre Dame returned 16 of 22 letterwinners but lost five starters from its '99 team that went 21-4-1 and advanced to the NCAA title game ... senior M and leading national player-of-the-year candidate Anne Makinen (14G-15A) has scored or assisted on 40% of ND's goals this season (29 of 75) while other top scorers include senior F Meotis Erikson (13G-12A) and freshman Fs Amy Warner (9G-4A) and Amanda Guertin (11G-4A) ... junior Liz Wagner has played most of the minutes in the nets, with 56 saves, seven goals allowed (one on a PK) and the nation's top GAA (0.32).
PRIMED FOR POSTSEASON: Senior M Anne Makinen and senior F Meotis Erikson have done their share of scoring during the postseason, with Makinen amassing 43 points (15G-13A, 4 GWG) in 26 career postseason games while Erikson has 35 (11G-13A, 3 GWG) ... that dynamic duo has combined to average 3.0 points per game in the postseason and 2.5/gm game in NCAA Tournament play (Makinen has 6G-8A, Erikson 5G-7A in 15 career NCAA Tournament games) ... senior D Kelly Lindsey started all of ND's 20 postseason games during the previous three seasons and has 2G-1A in 15 career NCAA Tournament games (including a game-winning assist in the 2-1 win over Nebraska in '98, plus the winning sudden-victory PK vs. the 'Huskers in the '99 NCAA quarter's) ... more than half (4G-3A) of sophomore F Ali Lovelace's 22 career points have come in the postseason ... junior G Liz Wagner (who led three shutout efforts in the 2000 BIG EAST Tournament) had limited postseason experience prior to 2000, including short stints in the '99 BIG EAST Tournament vs. Seton Hall and UConn and 12 minutes of action in the 2nd round of the '99 NCAAs vs. Dayton ... Wagner actually saw some late-game action as a field player in 1998 BIG EAST Tournament routs of West Virginia and Syracuse (roster limits expanded from 18 to 22 players this season).
Liz Wagner: 23 SV, 3 GA in 10 GP/6 GS (633:08, 0.43), plus 2 GP off the bench in field in ‘98 BET (1A).
Lauren Kent: 1 SV, 0 GA in 2 GP (35:08).
24-GAME CHECKUP: ND has allowed just eight goals (the team record-low is nine, in '97) while the 0.32 team GAA is below the record of 0.36 ('97) ... the Irish have posted 16 shutouts and could tie the record (18, in '95) with two more ... ND set the team record for best start (the '96 team opened 13-0-0) and, prior to the tie at UConn, was one win shy of tying the record for longest single-season winning streak (the '97 team won 17 straight midseason games) ... ND also won 20 straight regular-season games (the previous team record was 18, from '95-'96) ... Anne Makinen's record for shots in a season (106, in '98) could be bested this season by Meotis Erikson (95) ... Makinen has six game-winning goals this season (Rosella Guerrero's eight in '94 are the ND record).
IRISH POST BEST START: ND's 16-0-0 start bested the ND record for top won-loss record to open a season (13-0-0, '96) ... that '96 team posted a 66-6 scoring edge through the first 13 games before dropping a 3-1 game at 9th-ranked Santa Clara (days after the Irish had risen to No. 1) ... the '96 team owned five wins over ranked teams in that 13-0 start, beating No. 14 Wisconsin (3-1), No. 13 Washington (4-0), No. 4 UConn (2-1), No. 1 UNC (2-1, OT) and No. 18 Stanford (4-0) ... by comparison, the current Irish squad owns a 75-8 scoring edge and has posted six wins and one tie vs. teams in the NSCAA poll: No. 2/24 Santa Clara (6-1, 2-1/OT), No. 10 Stanford (2-1, OT), No. 15 Washington (5-0), No. 25/24 UConn (0-0, 1-0) and No. 25 Michigan.
PERFECT MARK: The Irish concluded Mid-Atlantic Division play 6-0-0 for the second consecutive season and own a 54-2-2 (.948) all-time record in BIG EAST regular-season play (including cross-divisional games and the recent tie at UConn, which was not part of the official BIG EAST schedule) ... prior to the tie at UConn, ND had won 25 straight games vs. BIG EAST teams (19 regular season, six BIG EAST Tournament) ... ND's only blemishes in BIG EAST regular-season play: 5-4 OT loss to UConn in the '95 NCAA Championship season, 1-1 tie at UConn in '98, 3-2 loss two days later at Seton Hall and the recent 0-0 tie at UConn ... since joining the BIG EAST in '95, the Irish are 70-3-2 (.947) in all games vs. BIG EAST opponents (2-0 win over UConn in the '95 NCAA quarter's, 2-1 loss to UConn in the '97 NCAA semi's) ... ND's 75 games vs. BIG EAST teams since '95 have included a 370-33 scoring edge (avg. 4.9-0.4), with a 60-7 scoring edge in 15 BIG EAST Tournament games (avg. 4.0-0.5).
IRISH COMPLETE UNDEFEATED REGULAR SEASON: The 5-1 win at Michigan yielded just the third undefeated regular season in the 13-year history of ND women's soccer (17-0-1) ... the '94 team headed into the postseason with a similar 17-0-1 mark while the '97 Irish squad went 18-0-1 in the regular season.
SCORE 10, LET IN 1: ND owns a 75-8 scoring edge, yielding a 10-to-1 scoring ratio that trails only the high-scoring '97 squad (135-9, 15-to-1 ratio) in the program's 13-year history.
SILVER STREAKS: Prior to the tie at UConn, ND nearly tied the team record for consecutive wins in a season (the '97 squad won 17 straight before losing 2-1 to UConn in the NCAA semi's) ... ND's last regular-season loss came Oct. 17, 1999 (4-2, at then-No. 1 Santa Clara) ... since that time, the Irish set a team record by winning 20 straight regular-season games (the '94-'95 teams combined to win 17 straight regular-season games) and are 21-0-1 in the last 22 regular-season games ... ND is 30-1-2 in its last 33 games overall ... a regular-season win over UConn would have equaled the 2nd-longest overall winning streak in the program's 13-year history (the '95 and '96 teams combined to win 24 straight) ... ND's current 24-game unbeaten streak is tied for the team record (the '95-'96 teams went 24-0-0 while the '94 team and the '97 team, when the current seniors were freshmen, both opened 23-0-1).
BIG GAPS: Notre Dame has posted dominating stat edges in 2000: 75-8 in scoring, 564-150 in shots ( avg. 24-6), 317-71 in shots on goal (avg. 14-3) and 154-61 in corner kicks (avg. 7-3) ... the Irish have held seven teams to 0-2 shots and have allowed more than eight shots just five times (10 and 18 by Santa Clara, 11 by Portland, 16 by UConn, 16 by Michigan) ... ND has allowed 0-2 shots on goal in 14 games (none in three) while SCU (7, 9), UConn (8) and Michigan (8) are the only teams to uncork more than four shots on goal vs. the Irish ... 18 ND opponents have been limited to 0-3 corner kicks (Portland had 7, Yale 4, UConn 5 and 4 and SCU 9).
POLL POSITION: ND has been ranked in the top-7 of the NSCAA poll since Sept. 14, 1993 (86 straight polls) and has held down a spot in the top-six since Sept. 15, 1999 ... the Irish have been ranked 1st-3rd in 61 of 88 polls during the past seven seasons and have been ranked in the top-five in 73 of the last 88 polls (in the top 10 of all but one) ... ND's spots in the last 88 NSCAA polls include 17 weeks at No. 1, 32 at No. 2, 12 at No. 3, four at No. 4, eight at No. 5, 11 at No. 6, three at No. 7 and one at No. 12.
NO. 1 SIGN BURNS ON: October 12 brought a new look to the night sky on the northeast corner of the Notre Dame campus, as the traditional, lighted numeral one was placed atop Grace Hall, in honor of the Irish women's soccer team's ascension to the number-one ranking ... the eight-foot sign, for years under the auspices of Grace Hall (a men's residence hall from 1969-96), had not appeared since it last was lit in honor of the '95 NCAA championship won by the women's soccer team ... the sign, built by Father Bob Malone and a group of seminarians, originally went up at Moreau Seminary (located at the north end of St. Joseph's Lake) in January of 1974, following Notre Dame's 1973 national championship football season ... designed to be lit anytime a Notre Dame team was ranked number one, it later moved to Howard Hall (at the center of campus, near the old Notre Dame Bookstore) before finally shifting to the roof of Grace Hall ... the sign was proudly displayed during the end of the 1988 football season (when the Irish captured the national title) and returned during parts of the 1989, '90 and '93 football campaigns.
IRISH REMAIN NO. 1: ND has returned to the top of the national polls for the first time since '96, following a pair of quality wins on Sept. 16-17 over current No. 2 Washington (5-0) and NCAA semifinalist Portland (1-0), coupled with UNC's 2-1 loss earlier that week at Clemson ... North Carolina (now 19-3-0) dropped out of the top spot and is seeded fifth in the NCAAs ... the Irish are ranked first in the NSCAA poll and various other polls conducted by soccer-specific publications and websites, including the long-running poll compiled by the editors of Soccer America, the SoccerTimes.com national coaches poll and the American Soccer Writers media poll (coordinated by collegesoccerdaily.com).
NO. 1 HISTORY: The previous year in which ND sat atop the NSCAA poll in the regular season was '96, when the Irish owned the top spot for the final two months (a 2-1 win over UNC on Oct. 4 of that year, followed by a 2-0 win over Duke, bumped the Irish up from No. 2) ... ND spent the final month of '94 as the No. 1-ranked team, thanks to an earlier 0-0 tie with UNC and the Tar Heels' loss to Duke in early October.
RISING TO THE TOP: Following Nebraska's 2-1 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 15, ND became the only undefeated team left among 271 Division I women's soccer teams ... ND's strength of schedule has improved since the start of the 2000 season, as Portland (10th), Washington (2nd), Boston College and Michigan (25th) entered the NSCAA poll in recent weeks ... other 2000 Irish opponents currently ranked include Stanford (15th), Santa Clara (24th) and UConn (13th).
BULLSEYE ON THEIR BACKS: ND owns a 36-3-1 all-time record (20-1-1 in the regular season) when playing as the top-ranked team in the NSCAA poll, with losses at Santa Clara in '96 (3-1) and in a pair of NCAA title games vs. UNC (5-0 in '94, 1-0 in '96), with the tie this season at UConn (0-0).
REGULARS IN THE LINEUP: Due to the use of various lineups and a handful of injuries, just three ND players have started all 24 games: senior F Meotis Erikson, sophomore D Vanessa Pruzinsky and junior G Liz Wagner ... six others have appeared in every game: freshman F Amanda Guertin (21 GS), freshman M Randi Scheller (5 GS), junior M Mia Sarkesian (23 GS), sophomore M Ashley Dryer (20 GS), junior D Lindsey Jones (22 GS) and senior D Kerri Bakker (19 GS) ... Erikson has started every game of her ND career (100), as has Pruzinsky (50).
DEFENSIVE-MINDED: ND's hard-nosed D has held the opposition to eight goals while having a hand in just 12 goals on the other side of the field (2G-10A) ... sophomore Nancy Mikacenic (1G-3A) was the early "leading scorer" among the Irish D but her header goal came on a CK while she was playing in the M (in the opener vs. Detroit) while two of her three assists also came as a M ... senior Monica Gonzalez (1G-4A) scored while playing as a forward at Michigan and has assists in all three NCAA wins this season ... junior Lindsey Jones (2A), sophomore Vanessa Pruzinksy (1A) and freshman Megan Rogers (1A) round out the scoring by the Irish D ... seniors Kelly Lindsey (who had no points in 1999 but made the clinching PK in the NCAA quarterfinals at Nebraska) and Kerri Bakker have yet to register a point in 2000 ... not counting points recorded at other positions, the Irish D has accounted for just seven (10A) of the team's 218 points (4.6 percent) ... by comparison, 2000 graduates Jen Grubb (9G-8A) and Kara Brown (2G-16A) combined to total 46 points from the back during the 1999 season (those two D alone accounted for 15% of the points in '99) ... Jones has gone 12 games without a point while Pruzinsky's last point came 13 games ago.
SHARPSHOOTING: ND will be looking to rediscover its improved shooting accuracy, as the Irish were averaging one goal ever 7.8 shots before scoring 3G on 12 shots at Syracuse, 4G on 19 shots at Yale, no goals on 7 shots at UConn and 5G on 27 shots at Michigan (one goal every 5.4 shots in those four games) followed by just 3G on 30 shots vs. Miami, 3G on 27 vs. BC, an own goal on 10 shots vs. UConn, 3G on 29 shots vs. Michigan in the NCAAs, 2G on 18 shots vs. Harvard and 2G on 4 vs. SCU (ND has cashed in 13 of 108 postseason shots, or 1G every 8.3 shots) ... the overall average of 7.5 shots/goal is highest in ND history, up from '98 (6.8) and '99 (6.1) .. the best shot-to-goal ratio in ND history was 4.40 ('96) ... the 2000 Irish are averaging 23.5 shots/gm, which ranks ahead of every previous season except '97 (30.9) and '98 (26.8) ... seniors Anne Makinen (86 shots) and Meotis Erikson (95) have taken the bulk of ND's shots this season (they have combined to average 7.7 shots/gm) ... the top shooting percentages among ND regulars include junior F Kelly Tulisiak (4G on 15 shots, 3.8 shots/goal), freshman F Amy Warner (9 on 46, 5.1) and freshman F Amanda Guertin (11 on 63, 5.7).
PLAYING WITH THE LEAD: ND has trailed just once this season while holding the lead for roughly 60% of the minutes ... just six teams have managed to forge a tie (1-1) vs. the Irish, Providence, Santa Clara (twice), Stanford, West Virginia and Michigan in the NCAAs, while Boston College is the only team to hold a lead on ND in 2000 (for 28 minutes), meaning that the Irish have trailed for just 1.3% of the minutes ... since the Sept. 22 game at West Virginia, only two teams, Michigan and SCU, both in the NCAAs, have come from behind to tie the Irish (a span of 16 games).
GAINING EXPERIENCE ... AND WINS: Notre Dame's regular starting lineup includes three players who had no previous starts on the Division I level, freshman Fs Amy Warner and Amanda Guertin and junior G Liz Wagner, plus several others with limited starting experience prior to 2000: senior D Kerri Bakker (3 GS prior to 2000), freshman M Ashley Dryer (15), junior M Mia Sarkesian (17), junior D Lindsey Jones (17) and sophomore D Vanessa Pruzinsky (26) ... the only members of the everyday starting 11 with more than 26 starts prior to 2000 were senior D Kelly Lindsey (68), senior M Anne Makinen (66) and senior F Meotis Erikson (63) ... by comparison, the Irish headed into '99 with eight players who had more than 26 career starts.
ROAD WARRIORS: Since dropping a 4-2 game at Santa Clara on Oct. 17, 1999, ND is 13-1-2 in its last 16 games away from Alumni Field ... the Irish have put up solid numbers on the road in 2000 (9 games), including a 29-2 scoring edge (the other 4 GA have come at home), a 166-72 shot edge (21-9 avg.) and a 96-32 edge in shots on goal (12-4 avg.).
BREAKING THE SEAL: Three different ND players, senior M Anne Makinen, senior F Meotis Erikson and freshman F Amy Warner, each scored the first goal of the game three-plus times in the first 11 games before freshman F Amanda Guertin joined that group with the first goal in the 8-0 win at Georgetown ... junior M Mia Sarkesian then did the honors vs. BC and Syracuse (and BC again) while Erikson netted the first goal at Yale, senior Monica Gonzalez did the honors at Michigan and Warner scored off the bench vs. Miami ... Makinen, who opened the scoring in the NCAAs vs. Harvard, scored the 1st goal in three consecutive games (vs. Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Rutgers), after earlier scoring first vs. Detroit and Tulsa ... Erikson scored first vs. Santa Clara, Washington, Portland and Yale (before also opening the scoring in the NCAAs vs. Michigan) while Warner broke the ice vs. Providence, Stanford, West Virginia and then Miami ... Ali Lovelace joined the group after opening the scoring in the NCAAs vs. SCU.
HOMESTANDERS: ND's home record in 11 seasons at Alumni Field is 118-7-1 (.941), including 94-3-1 in the last 98 games, highlighted by a 27-game win streak from '92-'95 (5th-longest in NCAA history) ... ND's last three home losses have been at the hands of #5 UConn in '95 (5-4, OT), #6 Portland in the '98 NCAA quarterfinals (2-1) and top-rated UNC in the '99 opener (3-2, OT) ...the Irish currently carry a 26-game home winning streak, with a 68-11 scoring edge in those games ... ND's all-time record at Alumni Field vs. teams not ranked in the NSCAA poll is 82-1-0 (36-6-1 vs. ranked teams), with 75 straight home wins over unranked teams dating back to a 2-0 loss to Creighton in '90 ... ND played at Moose Krause Field in the program's first two seasons ('88 and '89), with a home record of 19-5-1 during that span (all vs. unranked teams).
BACK-TO-BACK GOALS: Despite a dropoff in overall scoring, ND showed the ability to score quick back-to-back goals ... the Irish have scored twice in a span of 5:21 or shorter 12 times this season (but just twice in the last 12 games), highlighted by five times when ND scored twice in 2:36 or less ... eight players have combined to score the second goals in those flurries, including two each by sophomore F Ali Lovelace, senior F Meotis Erikson and freshman Fs Amy Warner and Amanda Guertin ... ND has scored a pair of bunched goals twice in the same game vs. Santa Clara, Seton Hall and Georgetown ... in addition to the bunched pairs listed below, the Irish have posted two noteworthy three-goal flurries, scoring three times in 5:01 to stunningly take a 3-0 lead on Washington while putting the Yale game away with three goals in a late 6:54 stretch:
* Note: Erikson and Warner's goals were sandwiched around a score by SCU's Kathleen Celio (20:26).
50-50 PROPOSITION: Senior M Anne Makinen (Helsinki, Finland) scored on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 vs. Seton Hall and Rutgers, giving her 60 career goals to move past '96 graduate Michelle McCarthy (59) into 5th on the ND all-time list ... she then scored vs. Georgetown to move into a tie on the ND goalscoring list with '97 grad. Cindy Daws before adding her 62nd career goal at Yale, her 63rd vs. Miami, 64th vs. BC and 65th vs. Harvard ... Makinen was stuck on 49 career assists for three weeks before assisting on three Meotis Erikson goals in the 8-0 win at GU (Oct. 6)-thus becoming the 13th player in Div. I history, and the third ND player, to eclipse the 50-goals, 50-assists plateau (she entered 2000 as the nation's only active 40-40 player) ... Jenny Streiffer (70G-71A, '96-'99) and Daws (61G-67A) are the only previous ND players to reach 50-50 ... Makinen still has a shot at reaching 60-60, needing 4A to become the 6th Division I player to earn that distinction ... members of the 60-60 club include Streiffer, Daws, Carin Jennings (102G-60A, UC Santa Barbara, '83-'86), Mia Hamm (103G-72A, UNC, '89-'93) and Mandy Clemens (67G-65A, Santa Clara, '96-'99) ... Streiffer and Hamm are the only members of the 70-70 club.
ANNE'S ARSENAL: Anne Makinen has totaled 43 points (14G-15A) in 23 games played (21 starts), despite being marked heavily as ND's top offensive weapon .. Makinen heads into the UNC game with a career average of 2.11 points/gm (186 in 88) ... her 56 career assists rank 5th all-time an ND (she just edged past 2000 Jen Grubb, who had 53), one behind Shannon Boxx ('99) ... Makinen's 186 career points rank 5th on the ND all-time list, moving past Holly Manthei's career total from '94-'97 (176) to trail only Jenny Streiffer (211, '96-'99), Monica Gerardo (190, '95-'98), Cindy Daws (189, '93-'96) and Jenny Heft (189, '96-'99) ... Makinen needs to total 48 points this season, she needs five more, to pass Gerardo into 2nd on ND's all-time scoring list.
MAKIN' WAVES: Anne Makinen, who has points in 16 of 23 GP this season (21 starts), has been the focal point of the offense this season, as the three-year All-American has scored or assisted on 40% of ND's goals (29 of 75), including six GWGs and four primary game-winning assists ... her outlet pass also sprung Amy Warner for the cross that led to the game-ending own goal versus Stanford while her bending corner kick led to the own goal in the 1-0 game at Villanova ... with her team struggling to cash in its chances vs. Tulsa on Sept. 1, Makinen took over in the lategoing by scoring a pair of goals for a 2-0 win ... two days later, in the 5-1 win over Providence, her play from her central midfield spot helped the Irish eclipse 30 shots for the third straight game ... her pass into the middle set up Amy Warner's second goal of the PC game and Makinen added a long cross late in that game that Warner half-volleyed to complete her hat trick ... Makinen had 1G-2A in the 6-1 win over No. 2 Santa Clara before setting up the game-ending sequence versus Stanford ... at the Portland Invitational, Makinen's long cross set up Ali Lovelace's goal for a 2-0 lead on Washington and Makinen added a rebound goal and PK goal in that 5-0 game ... the next day, her cross from the right set up Meotis Erikson's goal in the 1-0 win over Portland ... most recently, Makinen's rocket shot from the top of the box held up as the only score in a 1-0 game with Pittsburgh before she opened the scoring to ignite the 6-0 win over Seton Hall and converted a second-half PK to give ND the lead in the 2-0 game with Rutgers ... she came off the bench in the 53rd minute to spark the 4-0 win at Yale, setting up Meotis Erikson for the first goal before sending a free kick over the wall and into the left corner for a late 2-0 cushion ... Makinen's rebounded shot was knocked in by Monica Gonzalez for an early lead in the 5-1 win at Michigan, she blasted home ND's second goal in the 3-0 win over Miami, and she completed a strong combination play for a 2-0 lead in the semi-final win over BC (3-0) ... Makinen's left side free kick set up Erikson's volley to open the scoring in the NCAA's vs. Michigan and Erikson's CK the next week vs. Harvard set up Makinen's header to open the scoring (2-0).
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: The Irish have scored 1st-half goals in 19 of 24 games this season while going past the 55:00 mark without any ND scoring in just three games ... senior M Anne Makinen has come to the rescue several times with ND needing a 2nd-half goal ... on Sept. 1 vs. Tulsa, the offense was struggling before Makinen fired home a shot in the 69th minute and scored again for the 2-0 win ... one month later, Makinen converted a PK in the 53rd minute vs. Rutgers and ND went on to another 2-0 win ... one week later at Villanova, Makinen's leftside corner kick bent toward the goal and led to the decisive own goal in the 80th minute ... most recently, she came off the bench in the 54th minute at Yale and set up the first ND goal less than two minutes later, after slicing through the Bulldogs defense and sliding a pass to Meotis Erikson for the 1-0 lead (Makinen converted a free kick in the 83rd minute to spark a late flurry in the 4-0 win) ... Mia Sarkesian's first goal of the season, in the 38th minute vs. BC, helped erase ND's only deficit of 2000 (Erikson assisted on that looping shot from 20 yards out).
CORNER KICKERS: The Irish have 5G off corner kicks in the last 12 games, after managing just two in the first 12 ... despite being one of ND's most dangerous players in the penalty box area, senior M Anne Makinen took many early corner kicks this season and was considered the team's top option for that role due to her strong leg and pinpoint accuracy ... senior F Meotis Erikson and freshman F Amanda Guertin have been used on CKs in recent weeks ... Erikson set up an Irish goal versus PC with one of those set plays, as did Makinen in the Detroit game ... Makinen's late corner at Villanova was bending into the goal before being kicked in by a VU player, for the game's only score ... Guertin's CK at Syracuse led to a header-volley combination by Ashley Dryer and Mia Sarkesian in the first two minutes of that 3-0 win while Erikson's CK set up Sarkesian's header goal at Michigan ... a pair of Erikson CKs led to both goals in the NCAA 3rd-round win over Harvard (2-0, with scores from Makinen and Sarkesian).
KEEP THAT MOTOR RUNNING: Senior F Meotis Erikson (Kennewick, Wash.) has been a durable and reliable member of the Irish lineup, appearing in all 100 of ND's games during the past four seasons (starting 86 of them) ... Erikson could become the 9th Irish player to appear in every game of her career and only one player on that list has logged more games than Erikson: M Shannon Boxx (101, '95-'98) ... Erikson is tied with three players, M Holly Manthei ('94-'97), F Jenny Streiffer ('96-'99) and D Jen Grubb ('96-'99), for 2nd on the ND list for career GP, passing former Ds Kate Sobrero (97, '94-'97) and Kate Fisher (98, '93-'96), G Jen Renola (98, '93-'96), F Monica Gerardo (98, '95-'98) and M/D Kara Brown ('96-'99) ... others she recently passed on that list include current Irish G coach LaKeysia Beene (90, '96-'99), F Rosella Guerrero (91, '92-'95), M Cindy Daws (94, '93-'96) and F Jenny Heft (97, '96-'99) ... Erikson could surpass Boxx's record 102 total by playing in two more games ... Erikson and classmate Anne Makinen are tied for 11th on the ND career games started list (86), one back of Michelle McCarthy ('92-'95)
MOTORING: Senior F Meotis Erikson scored three goals on Oct. 6 at Georgetown, becoming the 11th ND player to post three-plus hat tricks in her career (senior M Anne Makinen also has three) ... Erikson registered three goals twice in a five-game span in late October of '97 ... just four previous ND players have turned in four-plus hat tricks: Jenny Heft (6, '96-'99), Rosella Guerrero (5, '92-'95), Michelle McCarthy (4, '92-'95) and Monica Gerardo (4, '95-'98) ... Erikson's hat trick is the 49th in ND history and 25th in the last five seasons (freshman Amy Warner had 3G vs. PC on Sept. 3) ... Erikson has points in six of the last seven games (3G-gA) and nine of the last 11 (5G-8A) ... Erikson's recent surge gives her 163 points (59G-45A) for her career, passing McCarthy (156) into 7th on the ND all-time scoring list ... her 59 goals are tied with McCarthy for 6th in ND history, with Erikson surging past Gerardo and '00 grad. Kara Brown (both with 44A) into 6th on the assist list.
WALDRUM WORKING WONDERS: Second-year ND head coach Randy Waldrum, who repeated as BIG EAST coach of the year, has seen his Irish teams post an impressive 44-4-2 combined record (.900), including an 13-3-2 mark vs. NSCAA top-25 teams and a '99 season that ended in the NCAA title game ... if ND picks up two more wins and captures the NCAA title, Waldrum's two-year winning pct. would top 90% (.904, 46-4-1) ... Waldrum in '99 became the only coach in the 18-year history of the NCAA women's soccer championship to lead a team to the title game in his first season as that team's head coach ... he was the fourth 1st-year coach to take his team to the NCAA semi's, with the Irish beating top-ranked and previously unbeaten Santa Clara in their backyard of San Jose, Calif. ... Waldrum's 19-year record as a college head coach (with both men's and women's teams) is 227-109-21 (.665) ... he owns a 151-54-14 (.722) record in 11 seasons as a Division I women's coach, including 61-36-9 in six years at Tulsa (.580) and 46-14-3 in three seasons at Baylor ... Waldrum entered the 2000 season ranked 15th among active women's coaches for career winning percentage (he ranks 26th on the total wins list).
VERSATILE VETERAN: Senior Monica Gonzalez has filled many roles for the Irish in recent weeks, including stints as a starter at three different positions in a three-game stretch from Oct. 22-29 ... Gonzalez started in the midfield at Yale and UConn during fall break (she turned in a solid game while playing all over the field, and all 120 minutes, at UConn) before making a start at forward vs. Michigan in the regular-season finale ... she has started at left back in all six postseason games (most of her 17 starts have been in the D).
BIG-GAME PERFORMER: Despite facing just 63 shots on goal, junior Liz Wagner, who leads the nation with an 0.32 GAA, has made several big plays in big games ... in five regular-season games vs. top-25 teams and six postseason games, Wagner has made 38 saves while allowing just four goals, with an 0.37 GAA in those 11 "big games" (she has 18 saves, 3 GA in the other 13 games) ... in the 6-1 win over then-No. 2 Santa Clara, Wagner made five big saves, including an early breakaway and a diving stop in the 2nd half ... she finished the KeyBank Classic (which included a 2-1 OT win over Stanford) with seven saves, as the backstop to a defense that allowed just 16 shots ... Wagner then made six saves at the Portland Invitational but turned in several other big plays in both games (she thwarted two early scoring chances by current No. 2 Washington before holding off current a late charge from NCAA quarterfinalist Portland) ... she arguably was the best player on the field in the 0-0 tie at UConn, making eight saves while smothering several other chances at a charged-up Marrone Stadium, and her three saves vs. UConn in the BIG EAST title game included stops of the two best scoring chances in the game ... Wagner then turned in another prime-time performance in the NCAA quarterfinal win over SCU (2-1/OT), rescuing the Irish with eight saves that included several diving plays and tough tips over the crossbar ... Wagner is in her first season as a starter while facing the challenge of replacing All-American LaKeysia Beene and losing two starting defenders from the '99 team (including four-time All-American Jen Grubb).
WAGNER IN THE NCAA RECORD BOOK: Liz Wagner's 0.32 season GAA ranks 12th in NCAA women's soccer history, narrowly trailing three former players who are tied for 10th on that list at 0.30 ... Wagner's 0.31 career GAA would rank 3rd in NCAA history, behind UNC's Siri Mullinix (0.28, '95-'98) and Anne Sherow (0.14, '85-'88) ... Wagner has logged roughly 2,345 minutes in her career (the NCAA minimum for the career GAA list is 2,500 minutes, with Sherow playing just 2,525 while Mullinix logged 5,536).
STRANGE NETS NO PROBLEM: Liz Wagner has yielded just one goal in nine games away from home this season (at West Virginia, on a PK by BIG EAST leading scorer Katie Barnes) while posting 26 saves in those games, with an 0.12 GAA.
ND HEAD COACH RANDY WALDRUM ON WAGNER: "I think you saw tonight (Oct. 21 at UConn) why Liz Wagner has to be considered the best goalkeeper in the BIG EAST. In a lot of our games, she hardly has touched the ball and it's hard to appreciate her skill and leadership in that type of game. But every time she has been tested in a big game, she has answered the bell. The way she has played for us, along with the play of an inexperienced defense that has battled through some injuries, have been invaluable."
SHUTOUT CITY: ND's GAA (0.32) is on pace to best the team record (0.36) set in '97, when the Irish allowed five goals in the regular season and nine overall ... ND has allowed just five goals in the last 1,833 minutes of action (equivalent of 20 games), stretching back to Stanford's goal in the 80th minute on Sept. 10 ... the Irish have posted 12 shutouts in the last 16 games (16 total), allowing just 102 shots (45 on goal) and 40 corner kicks in that 16-game stretch ... Michigan's goal in the regular-season finale prevented ND from tying the team record for fewest goals allowed in the regular season (5, in '97) ... junior G Liz Wagner and the Irish allowed just one goal in each game of the KeyBank Classic, vs. two of the nation's top teams (Santa Clara, Stanford) before posting a pair of shutouts in the Portland adidas Invitational (vs. current #2 Washington and NCAA quarterfinalist Portland), the 2-1 win at WVU and five straight shutouts vs. Pittsburgh (1-0), Seton Hall (6-0), Rutgers (2-0), Georgetown (8-0) and Villanova (1-0), followed by shutouts at Syracuse (3-0), Yale (4-0) and 25th-ranked UConn (0-0), BET shutouts of Miami, BC (both 3-0) and UConn (1-0) and the 2-0 win over Harvard in the 3rd round of the NCAAs.
SHUT DOWN: In the opening win over Detroit (6-1), the Titans nearly scored during an early flurry but ND responded by not allowing a shot for the final 83:00 ... the final shot margin (49-2) ranks as one of the largest in ND history (the team record for shots is 59) ... the Irish gave up an early shot (not on goal) by Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 before holding the Panthers without a shot in the final 76:00 ... one week later, ND allowed Seton Hall just one shot (off goal) in the final 86:00 before holding Rutgers without a shot of any kind for the entire 90:00 ... the RU game marked the 13th time in ND history, and sixth in the last six seasons, that the Irish have held an opponent without a shot ... in the postseason, ND held Miami without a shot for a 45:00 midgame stretch before holding BC without a shot for a span of 55:00 during the BIG EAST semi's.
STAT LEADERS: Senior M Anne Makinen ranks 14th in the nation for assists/gm (0.63) ... ND junior Liz Wagner stands alone atop the nation's GAA list at 0.32, ahead of UCLA's Cici Peterson (0.38) and Portland's Cheryl Loveless (0.40) … ND's 0.325 team GAA leads the nation while the Irish are tied for 2nd in shutouts (16) and rank 8th in scoring (3.13 goals/gm) ... three ND players rank among the BIG EAST's top-12 scorers: Makinen (1st, 14G-15A, 43P), senior F Meotis Erikson (3rd, 13G-12A, 38P) and freshman F Amanda Guertin (8th, 11G-4A, 26P) ... ND leads the BIG EAST in goals (75), GAA (0.32) and shutouts (16).