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Waldrum optimistic about season

Justin Schuver | Thursday, August 21, 2003

In 2002, the Irish may have hurt their bodies, but they didn’t hurt their postseason chances. Last year, the team overcame a slew of injuries – players missed 64 games due to injury – to advance to the NCAA Tournament, only to lose a heartbreaker to top-ranked Stanford in the third round. The game was tied until Stanford scored in the 81st minute to earn a 1-0 win over the Irish.That kind of determination didn’t go unnoticed.Notre Dame comes into this season ranked 10th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll, partly due to a recruiting class that was ranked fifth in the nation by Soccer America.”This class has been great,” coach Randy Waldrum said of his 10 freshmen. “They’ve got us all very excited around here.”Waldrum especially lauded the play of Illinois natives Jen Buczkoswki, Kim Lorenzen,and Jill Krivacek.The three were part of the Illinois team that won the 2003 Olympic Development Program national title. Interestingly enough, the Illinois team defeated a team from New Jersey, which featured another Irish freshman this year, midfielder Lizzie Reed.Waldrum said that Buczkowski “can play anywhere,” and that Lorenzen can also play several positions with skill.”When you’re versatile,” he said, “I think it gives the freshmen a better chance to play, because they’re not competing for just one particular position.”Of Krivacek, Waldrum said that she brings size to the midfield position, something that previous Irish teams have been lacking.Freshman goaltender Nikki Westfall should add depth in net for the Irish, backing up last year’s starter Erika Bohn.In addition to the vaunted freshmen, the Irish also feature an accomplished veteran core of six seniors.Forwards Amanda Guertin and Amy Warner could be one of the nation’s best offensive tandems, and midfielders Randi Scheller and Kimberly Carpenter add veteran leadership to a deep Irish midfield.Fifth-year player Vanessa Pruzinsky was injured all of last season, but will return this year and should be used in a variety of positions. The final senior, defender Melissa Tancredi, will be the elder statesman on a talented defense pair that also features talented junior Candace Chapman.Both Chapman and Tancredi were members of the Canadian under-18 national team.This Irish team looks deep on paper, but so did last year’s squad. Injuries took their toll on the Irish in the 2002-03 season, but Waldrum believes that adversity may have been a good thing.”There were several times throughout the season where our team could have just quit, but they didn’t,” he said. “I think that shows a lot of our character.”Injuries and bad luck could still play a factor for the Irish this season, but Waldrum believes his team is much more suited to deal with such problems now.”The problem with last year was that we just didn’t have the depth,” he said.But with a mix of both accomplished veterans and anxious youth, depth shouldn’t be a problem any more.