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Womens Soccer: Loss could help for playoffs

Andy Troeger | Thursday, October 30, 2003

Over and over in sports sports fans have seen just how difficult it is for any team to go undefeated in a season. Rarely even do championship teams escape their season without a loss, and for all but the best teams winning every game is often an unrealistic goal.

Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team made it one game short of achieving that goal before running out of time against Michigan.

With a No. 2 ranking, this begs the question about how the loss will affect the Irish come the postseason.

With the loss coming out of the Big East schedule, the Irish still remain the favorites to win their eighth Big East Championship in nine years, especially if normal standouts Mary Boland and Melissa Tancredi return Sunday from nagging ankle injuries. If the Irish are able to get through the Big East, they still likely will get one of the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament, meaning they would likely get to host as many as four games. In short, this loss itself could have very little impact on Notre Dame’s upcoming postseason standing.

So the next question is, how does this Irish team regroup for their game Sunday against Miami? There are a few reasons to think that this loss could help the team’s mentality heading into the postseason.

First, the Michigan game was a classic “trap game” for the Irish, who had only one game in between ending their dominating run through the conference and beginning the postseason on Sunday. Expect the Irish intensity to rise come Sunday.

Second, the loss to Michigan was a wake-up call for a team that had so thoroughly dominated its last few opponents it was primed for a physical team like the Wolverines to catch them off guard. The Irish had scored 27 unanswered goals in a row before Wednesday’s loss. Don’t count on them being caught off-guard again.

Finally, the Irish now can head into the Big East not having to worry about how many teams they have shut out or how many games in a row they have won. Those types of statistical distractions are out of the picture with this loss, and it allows the Irish a chance to refocus on their two primary goals – winning the Big East Championship and winning the national championship.

And while the goal of an undefeated season was lost to Michigan, those other two goals are very much still in the picture.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Andy Troeger at atroeger@nd.edu.