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Young Irish players look to contribute

Andy Troeger | Thursday, September 11, 2003

Having continued their good start by winning two games in the Notre Dame Classic, the Irish will head to New York to face St. John’s in a Big East match-up this afternoon.

The Irish, now ranked No. 2 by Soccer America and No. 3 by the NSCAA, will then return to Alumni Field to face Western Kentucky Saturday. This marked the 10th time in 11 years that the Irish have been in the top three in the NSCAA poll, with last year being the lone exception.

The Irish will look to continue the one-sidedness of their series against the Red Storm. The Irish have won the previous seven meetings by outscoring St. John’s 38-0. The Red Storm opened this year 1-3, with their lone win coming in their last game against Siena.

The Irish also look to continue their solid play from early this season. In their first four games, the Irish have outscored the opposition 20-3 and have never given up more than one goal per game, while scoring at least three in every contest.

The Irish have received numerous contributions from a multitude of players. Last week, freshman Jen Buczkowski received many awards for her play, including being named offensive MVP of the Notre Dame Classic. She was also recognized on the Soccer America national team of the week and was named Big East Rookie of the Week.

Buczkowski has been one of many newcomers to the squad that has played an important role in the early season wins. Classmates Kim Lorenzen, Lizzie Reed, Jill Krivacek, and Christie Shaner have all played important minutes for the Irish so far, and sophomore Annie Schefter has made a strong impact in her first action after being sidelined with an ACL injury last year.

In her first full game back, defender Vanessa Pruzinsky turned in a solid showing, picking up the defensive MVP at the Notre Dame Classic.

“I’m just so excited to get to play again,” Pruzinsky said. “It’s really been over a year since I’ve really been able to play on my ankle. I’m really excited that it’s doing really well.”

The one problem that the Irish had last weekend was with giving up breakaway goals. They hope to have that problem fixed against the Red Storm.

“We’ve got to be better organized,” coach Randy Waldrum said. “We miss [Gudrun Gunnarsdottir] in the back, she really helps keep things organized for us.”

“We need to get tougher on defense and not give up goals like that,” added Pruzinsky.

The Irish will also be looking to build momentum heading into their highly anticipated showdowns with Santa Clara and Stanford in California.

“I wasn’t happy that we got behind,” said Waldrum referring to the early deficit his team faced against Arizona State. “But that was a great test for us. We needed to get the pressure they put on us. We were rattled that first 30 minutes. We needed to see that happen to us before we got to Stanford and Santa Clara. I’m pleased we came back and got a hold of that game. I’m not sure we could have done that last year.”

Despite the upcoming showdowns, the Irish are focused on St. John’s and Western Kentucky. Having never played the Hilltoppers, and not playing the Red Storm last year, the Irish may not be that familiar with their upcoming opponents.

“We don’t really know that much about either team,” senior forward Amanda Guertin said. “We just really need to go play our game.”