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Team thriving on momentum

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, November 19, 2004

With just a week passing since the thrilling 1-0 victory over Wisconsin, the Irish prepare to face conference rival Connecticut in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

The two teams are set to meet Saturday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Field in a rematch of the Big East Championship finals where the Huskies upset the top-seeded Irish 2-1.

“They’re anxious to play,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “After playing UConn, we felt like we just gave that one away.”

According to Waldrum, one of the deciding factors during the Big East Championship was being focused throughout the entire match.

“We just need to stay focused for 90 minutes. It wasn’t anything tactically that we broke down,” Waldrum said. “We just lost track of some of their key players. And we got punished for it.”

Despite losing the Big East Championship, the Irish remain confident in how they’ve played throughout the season and expect Saturday’s match to be no different.

“When we go back and evaluate the season, we have been good all year except for the last 30 minutes of the Big East Championship game,” Waldrum said. “We spent this week to make sure that we come out the same way and not let that one game deflate us. I don’t think it did, so I would look for us to be very good on Saturday.”

In addition to their confidence, the Irish believe they will be prepared for the style of play they are expecting from Connecticut.

“We got a really good handle on UConn. We have played them so often the past few years that I’m not looking for them to come up with anything to surprise us,” Waldrum said. “[During the postseason] you try to put your players in the best ways to exploit your opposition and I think that is what they will do if they make any changes.”

However, the Irish have two individual players they are hoping will challenge the opposition of the Huskies and who have significantly added to the team’s success during the post-season.

Freshman Ashley Jones and junior Annie Schefter are two players Waldrum feels should receive more attention for the contributions they give the Irish offensively.

“Those are two kids we don’t praise or talk about enough,” Waldrum said.

One of the notable performances Jones has had during the postseason came when she scored her first goal scored of the season during the Big East Championship game. However, for Schefter it has been her guidance and knowledge of the sport that makes her a vital asset to the team’s success.

“She has a better understanding [of the game] than most players and she sees the game two or three passes ahead and raises [her talent] to another level during this stretch of the playoffs,” Waldrum said. “She is going to be such a big factor for the organization of the team [throughout the playoffs].”