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Womens Soccer: Edged out

Andy Troeger | Monday, November 10, 2003

After missing out on the Big East Tournament last season, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team wanted to regain their championship form of years past. But it didn’t happen as the Irish fell 2-1 to Boston College in the tournament semifinals.

The Irish registered a season-low four shots on goal in falling for only the second time this season, but the second time in their last three games.

The teams played a fairly even game, with both sides attempting six shots, with five shots on goal for Notre Dame to three for Boston College.

The Irish struggled out of the gate and the Eagles cashed in on a failed Irish clearance. The ball ended up at the feet of Boston College midfielder Heather Farron, who scored from the right side of the box 10 yards out.

The Irish outshot the Eagles 5-3 in the first half, but were unable to get many serious threats at the Boston College goal, as the Eagle midfield was able to control play.

Boston College got its key second goal early in the second half, as All-Big East midfielder Sarah Rahko played the ball to Beth Totman near the top of the box. Totman turned and scored past Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn for the crucial two-goal lead.

At that point, the Irish made a key shift in formation by bringing senior Melissa Tancredi forward from her normal spot at central defense. The move paid off, as Tancredi scored off a header to pull the Irish within a goal at 2-1 with 26 minutes left in the game as Eagle goalkeeper Kate Taylor came out of the goal. Vanessa Pruzinsky assisted on the goal. Despite having a few chances, including a free kick with about two minutes to go, the Irish were unable to find the net again.

“The strategy didn’t really work as well as we’d have liked,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We got the first goal with plenty of time left, but we really weren’t able to push the ball forward enough after that. We have to figure out whether that was our tactics or personnel.”

The loss was especially tough because the Irish still felt they were the better team.

“Boston College is a good team, but we felt like we’ve played better teams over the course of the season,” Waldrum said.

Now the Irish must wait to see where they will play in the NCAA Tournament. While the Irish likely have fallen behind UCLA and Portland into at least fourth place in the upcoming NCAA seedings, they could still get that fourth overall seed because of a rash of upsets in the conference tournaments that have seen top 10 teams Penn State, Virginia, West Virginia and Colorado lose.

The only top-10 team ranked immediately behind the Irish that has not stumbled at the end of the year is Santa Clara, a team that the Irish beat head-to-head earlier in the season.

Regardless of seeding, the Irish know they must play better to advance far enough in the NCAA Tournament to make their seeding an issue.

“I’m not sure whether it’s a matter of losing our confidence or being overconfident,” Waldrum said. “We’ve got to figure that out this week.”

Notes

The championship game featured two major surprises in Boston College and Villanova. Both teams finished the regular season at only 3-2-1 in league play. Villanova advanced by beating No. 7 West Virginia on penalty kicks.

The Eagles fell to Villanova in the Championship game, as the Wildcats needed penalty kicks for the second straight game to get the win.