Nov. 27, 2009

By Paul D. Bowker
Special to

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For giant portions of Friday‘s NCAA women‘s soccer quarterfinal matchup between Notre Dame and Florida State, the game turned into a battle between two No. 6s: Notre Dame sophomore attacker Melissa Henderson and FSU sophomore attacker Jessica Price.
Between them, they‘ve scored 34 goals and assisted on 15 this season. Price is just the second player in Seminole history to reach double figures in both goals (16) and assists (10) in one season. Henderson, whose goal in Notre Dame‘s 2-0 win on Friday sent the Irish to the College Cup for the fourth consecutive year, leads the Irish with 18 goals and has been on fire in the NCAA Tournament. She has had at least a goal or assist in five consecutive games, including a school-record four in a 6-1 NCAA first-round win over Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan.
In Henderson‘s last seven games, Henderson has scored 10 goals and had three assists.
At FSU, Henderson received plenty of attention from the Seminoles‘ defenders, but she was in the right place -- standing in FSU’s goal area -- when an attempted clear out of the FSU zone wound up on Henderson‘s foot.
“Their defender just got unlucky and missed it a little bit, and I just happened to be there. Just luck,” she said.
That “luck“ has helped Henderson achieve high successes already. At Berkner High School in Garland, Texas, she became the first female soccer player ever to win the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. She scored 66 goals in three seasons at Berkner. She has played on three different U.S. national teams and is currently in the U-23 national team‘s player pool, meaning she could be in line for a spot on the 2012 Olympics team.
“Right now, the only thing in my head is Final Four and the national semifinals. Of course, the (Olympics) future is always there,” she said.
Henderson is quick to credit her teammates.
“My season comes from my teammates. Everything that I‘ve been able to accomplish hasn‘t started with me, it‘s started with them,” Henderson said.
GOING HOME: For six Notre Dame players, the College Cup, which will be played Friday and Sunday at Aggie Stadium in College Station, Texas, will be a trip home. There are more Texans on the Irish roster than any other state.
“A lot of our team is from Texas, so it’s kind of like home. Very excited,” Henderson said.
In addition to Henderson, junior midfielder Taylor Knack (Arlington), senior defender Haley Ford (Midland), sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano), sophomore midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano) and freshman defender Jazmin Hall (Highland Village) hail from the Longhorn state.
END OF A STREAK: Florida State had never lost an NCAA Tournament game at home before dropping Friday’s matchup with Notre Dame. The Seminoles were 18-0, including NCAA wins this year over Southeastern Louisiana, California and Texas A&M.  
Friday’s game drew a crowd of about 2,000.
SEE YOU IN 2010: Well, OK, maybe. FSU and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA Tournament four consecutive seasons, and only then, with Notre Dame winning three times. Is it time they met in the regular season? Irish coach Randy Landrum said there were no plans for that.
So, if they play in 2010, it’ll be in the NCAA Tournament.