Streiffer sets sights on scoring plateau
By MIKE CONNOLLY
Associate Sports Editor
Every little kid playing soccer in this country can tell you who Mia Hamm is.
The former North Carolina star — the only woman in NCAA history to score 70 goals and 70 assists — went on to star with the U.S. national team en route to winning the 1999 Women's World Cup. After this season, Jenny Streiffer may gain the same notoriety that Hamm has today.
Streiffer, a Notre Dame senior from Baton Rouge, La., currently has 66 goals and 69 assists heading into the Big East semifinals this week. While Hamm's 103 career goals is out of reach, Streiffer has an excellent chance of passing Hamm's 73 assists for second place all-time in NCAA history.
Even as the all-time Notre Dame leading scorer closes in on the 70-70 mark, she remains humble.
"I just have great teammates around me and I am getting great passes," she said. "I have still missed a lot. I haven't put all the ones away that I should be. I am getting more consistent."
Streiffer is not putting much emphasis on individual goals as she is more focused on the team's goal of a national title.
"It's more important for our team to do well," Streiffer said. "I can't lie. I would love to do it but there are many more important things."
If the Irish find themselves in San Jose, Calif., at the end of the year holding the championship trophy, Streiffer will be a big reason why.
Throughout her four years under the Dome, she has consistently been a top scorer for the Irish. She is the only player in Irish history to score more than 200 points in her career and currently stands third in Notre Dame career goals and second in assists. Part of this is due to her teammates but a lot of her success is because of her tremendous talent, according to head coach Randy Waldrum.
"She is one of the best players around and certainly one of the best to come through the program at Notre Dame," he said. "It helps to have quality players around her to be on the end of the assists that she has given and to also give her the kind of balls she needs to score. I think it is a credit to her teammates that she has played with but it is also a credit to her."
Streiffer has also enjoyed success with the under-21 U.S. national team. She led the team to victories in the 1997 and 1999 Nordic Cups — the equivalent of the World Cup for junior women's soccer.
In 1997, she scored the game winner against Norway in the championship and led the 1999 squad in scoring with three goals and one assist.
Playing for the national team helped her become a better player.
"Being in high pressure situations helps out a lot," she said. "It's so much more physical that when you get here it just seems slower and you don't have to worry about getting pushed off the ball as much. You get to do more things and see more situations."
When Streiffer plays, it seems as though she is playing on fast-forward while her opponents are on pause. Against Miami in the Big East quarterfinals, she collected the ball at midfield and took off toward the Hurricane net. She beat three defenders off the dribble in the blink of an eye before sailing her shot just wide of the net.
"She is so dangerous with the ball on her foot," Waldrum said. "She is so good individually at breaking people."
The ability to beat defenders off the dribble is something that she works on constantly, according to Streiffer.
"I guess it's something that I work on in practice and something that I have worked on for all my life," Streiffer said. "It's just something I like to do."
Streiffer began this season playing midfield before being moved to the front line in the past few games.
Streiffer feels her talents are better suited to the front line rather than the midfield.
"I like playing up front," Streiffer said. "I am not good at defense so I don't have to worry about playing defense as much. So now I can just run around up there and get great balls from the midfielders."
Since being moved to the front line, Streiffer has scored seven goals and tallied five assists in the past four games.
"I think she has kind of found her groove for scoring goals," Waldrum said. "Earlier in the season she was missing some opportunities. Now we have made a move to put her up front rather than playing in the midfield, and I think now she is finding her rhythm."
If Streiffer can stay in her rhythm with the NCAA tournament looming on the horizon, the Irish have an excellent chance of following her lead all the way to San Jose.
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 5, 1999