Notre Dame 3, Portland 1



NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Amanda Cinalli scored a pair of early goals, Katie Thorlakson solidified her player-of-the-year credentials with a goal and two assists and the Notre Dame defense again flexed its muscle by limiting Portland to a handful of scoring chances - as the Irish women's soccer team advanced to the College Cup semifinals for the seventh time in the program's history with Friday's 3-1 win over the visiting Pilots.

Notre Dame (23-1-1) - which will be making its third NCAA semifinal appearance in the six-year Randy Waldrum era - awaits the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal between Illinois at 16th seed Santa Clara. The Irish next will play at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C., on Friday, Dec. 3 at either 2:00 p.m. or 4:30 (TBA, both semifinals will be shown live on ESPN2). The NCAA championship game is slated for Sunday, Dec. 5, at 1:00 p.m. EST (also at SAS Stadium), with the other side of the bracket now pared down to Princeton (a 3-1 quarterfinal winner over Washington) and the winner of Sunday's game between 14th seed UCLA at 6th seed Ohio State.

The Irish held a 7-1 edge in first-half shots but the Pilots managed more offense in the final 45 minutes (15-10 final edge for ND). The hosts also doubled up UP in shots on goal (6-3) and owned a decisive 9-2 edge in corner kicks.

Portland - which had allowed just 14 goals all season, including one in the last five games - surrendered three goals for the first time all season while being held to three or fewer shots on goal for just the third time in 2004.

Friday's win provides a memorable milestone for Waldrum, who now has collected 300 victories in 23 total seasons as a college head coach (300-125-4, including 117-20-5 with the Irish).

Notre Dame's four NCAA tournament games have included a 10-1 scoring edge, plus 74-18 in total shots, 37-6 in shots on goal and 28-3 in corner kicks.

Thorlakson set up the first goal with a pass back to junior midfielder Annie Schefter, who then one-touched a serve from 40 yards out on the left flank. Cinalli was slanting in from the right and elevated past her defender to flick a header into the left side of the net for her ninth goal of the season and second of the NCAAs (3:42). It marked the third-quickest goal for the Irish this season and is the earliest postseason goal for Notre Dame since the 2001 BIG EAST final.

Midway through the opening half, Cinalli struck again for the magical 2-0 lead - as Notre Dame now is 230-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead. Sophomore defender Kim Lorenzen did not receive an official assist but her free kick after a Portland yellow card found Thorlakson in the right side of the box. Thorlakson then showed her patented skills with her back to the goal, sliding the ball between her legs and quickly turning to her left and racing to the endline to beat the Portland pursuit. Her low cross found Cinalli's foot on the doorstop and the surging rookie roofed a shot into the topnetting for the 2-0 lead 29:59).

Portland (20-4-0) appeared to gain some momentum after scoring early in the second half. Lisa Saari's free-kick into the box was headed by Kristen Rogers and the ball deflected loose on the left side of the box. Christine Sinclair was in position with an open net and sent home her 22nd goal of the season for a 2-1 game (57:11).

Thorlakson seemingly took the air out of Portland's comeback hopes on a goal scored directly off a corner kick from the left flag. The inswinger curled under the center of the crossbar to give Thorlakson her own 22nd goal of the season (63:44) while pushing her season point total to 67 (22G-23A), now second all-time in Notre Dame history behind the 72 point posted by Cindy Daws during her 1996 Hermann Trophy season.

Thorlakson nearly scored moments later, rocketing a 25-yard shot that smacked off the crossbar (her teaamte Candace Chapman then sent the rebound try off the crossbar as well).

-- Courtesy Notre Dame