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Desert waits for the Irish

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, September 10, 2004

Some like it hot. Coach Randy Waldrum hopes the Irish will adopt this attitude as the team faces Arizona State University at 7 p.m. tonight in Tempe, Ariz. The weather is expected to be near the 100 degree mark at kickoff; Waldrum believes this will be great training for the rest of the season for games in warmer climates.”Hopefully the trip to Brazil [last summer to play soccer] will help us out with the weather,” Waldrum said. “But we are also going to have to focus on playing a team with great speed up front. Unfortunately, it is on the road for us.”Last season when the two teams faced each other, Arizona State took an early lead in the first half. The Irish needed a late rally in the first half and a goal in the second half to secure the win. Waldrum is hoping his team can continue its dominance on the field and not allow Arizona State to take an early advantage like last year.After the Irish face the Sun Devils, they travel to Lubbock, Texas to play TexasTech. At Texas Tech, the Irish must adapt to playing on a much smaller field than Alumni Field. Most fields are 75 by 115 yards, but Texas Tech plays on a 68 by 100 yard surface. Waldrum is looking at this trip as an opportunity for his team to improve.”I scheduled this trip because it is important to get the team in environments they are not used to in order to prepare them for the playoffs,” Waldrum said. “But it is going to make us a better team at the end of the season.”The team’s confidence has shown in several of its lopsided victories against the nation’s top programs. Notre Dame’s 5-2 win against No. 4 Santa Clara exemplifies both the talent and determination that the Irish possess. These qualities, in conjunction with a can-do attitude, make for a solid squad capable of competing with any team. “We respect everybody we play, but we went into the games confident,” Waldrumsaid. “There is no reason to fear anybody.”Although the team remains self-assured, this weekend the Irish will face solid opponents in Arizona State and Texas Tech.Leading the Irish into the weekend will be Jen Buczkowski, Kim Lorenzen and Annie Schefter. The three are expected try and make up for the loss of injured senior Mary Boland, whose expected return is unknown. Waldrum said Notre Dame will continue to rely on its talent and confidence to come out on top. “When we have confidence, we are one of the best teams,” Waldrum said. “And everybody in the country looks at us that way.”Already, the team has shown glimpses of its talent, with two players earning player-of-the-week honors.In impressive victories against No. 4 Santa Clara and No. 13 Stanford, junior forward Katie Thorlakson showcased her offensive capabilities, completing the first hat trick of her career against Santa Clara. Thorlakson received the Big East offensive player of the week honor for her stellar performances. This is the second consecutive week she has earned this accolade, a first for an Irish player. Waldrum praised Thorlakson for her team-oriented attitude. “She is a very competitive player who wants to score goals for the team,” Waldrum said. “But she really wants the team to be successful and that is what makes her special.”In addition to Thorlakson’s honor, fifth-year defender Melissa Trancredi also earned the Big East Defensive Player of the Week honor this week. Trancredi received this honor after the Irish allowed only two goals and 11 shots against two highly-ranked opponents. Despite the success the team has found early this season, the Irish are aware of the challenges each opponent brings. After an early exit in last year’s NCAA tournament, the team has been inspired to avenge the loss.”There is still the disappointment of our second round loss last year lingering in the minds of several players,” Waldrum said. “But I think that is what has been carrying us into the games confidently.”