katie thorlakson

"The 2004 team truly was dynamic and the personalities even more dynamic."

The team’s fun-loving persona emanated from a spirited nine-member sophomore class, with fifth-year senior team captain Tancredi as its ringleader.

“Mel understood the importance of cultivating strong relationships and common goals. She intentionally created space outside of practices to develop those bonds,” says Claire Gallerano (VeNard), a sophomore midfielder on that 2004 squad and currently program director for the Notre Dame Student Welfare and Development office within the athletics department.

“Silly as it sounds, pregame dance routines in the locker room were instrumental in reinforcing that mindset,” says VeNard. “Everyone had a role and a trust in each other. The relationships were built on a foundation of fun that gave our leadership greater credibility.”

The questions about 2004 offensive output received an early, resounding answer: Thorlakson had arrived. The 5-foot-3 scrapper hit the ground running and never stopped, en route to an historic 70-point season (23G-24A). North Carolina legend Mia Hamm is the only player to total more goals and more assists during the same college season (1992).

Interestingly, the Irish talked about a similar dynamic within their 2010 Championship team.