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Champions return to ND

Mary Kate Malone | Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Holding homemade signs and cheering loudly, the crowd which gathered at Main Circle Monday afternoon provided a fitting welcome for the 2004 women’s soccer national champions.Delayed several hours due to travel complications, the Notre Dame players arrived at Main Circle with the joy of victory on their faces. Friends, roommates and families watched as the girls stepped off the bus, bringing their national championship trophy to its new home for the next year.The crowd clapped as the team, hopping in a circle and locked arm and arm, sang along to the Corrs’ “Here Come the Irish.”When the music ended and the crowd was calmed, Big East Defender of the Year Melissa Tancredi addressed the fans, seeming to still be in disbelief of the team’s great accomplishment.”We just won a national championship. It was an insane game,” she said. “No other team could have made it through and pulled out a win. And we love you guys for coming out tonight.”Before handing the microphone to her coach, who was scheduled to address the crowd, Tancredi reminded him of a promise he had made several months ago. “I don’t know if you all know this, but Randy Waldrum made us a promise that if we got a national championship, we could shave his head,” she said.And through the screams and giggles of his new hairdressers, Waldrum kept his promise. Team members took turns as Waldrum’s hair was diminished to a short buzz. Waldrum shook his head with a smile of resignation.”I may just come to like it,” Waldrum said. “The Georgetown fans at the game were making fun of my mullet.” Dillon rector Father Paul Doyle attended the rally for the team and described his impression of the team’s victory.”To see those girls celebrate on the field was worth the price of admission,” he said. “Their joy was contagious.”Doyle, who watched the game with several other priests during a Christmas party, said they did not pray during the nail-biting penalty kicks.”Maybe we should have, but I said many prayers of thanksgiving for them last night,” he said.Tom Pusio, promotions coordinator for the athletic department, organized the rally and was pleased with the turnout. “It was awesome,” he said. “The team was fired up and it was a great way to end the season. The team cohesiveness was so obvious, and that stems back to the coach.”Doyle noted the importance of the victory after the men’s basketball loss to Michigan and the continuing search for a new head football coach.”It was a tonic that we need right now and a reminder that there is a future,” he said.Sophomore Holly Weiss, who did not watch the game on Sunday, came to the rally to show support for the players.”I want to welcome back the girls to show that this school is not all about football, it’s about other sports too,” Weiss said.The players were surprised at the number of fans waiting for them at Main Circle. Despite their achievement, they did not expect such great support from the student body.”As we were pulling up we were trying to see if there were actually people there. There were so many people I had never seen,” sophomore Kim Lorenzen said. “It’s just so cool to have someone come up and say congratulations that you don’t even know.”Goalkeeper Erika Bohn echoed her teammate’s surprise that so many students on campus were interested in the game.”I thought my friends and roommates would maybe watch it, but I was surprised when I heard so many people went to LaFortune for a gamewatch,” Bohn said.Waldrum’s pride for his team was obvious as he told the crowd about Notre Dame’s resilience in the face of opposition.”We are so blessed to be a part of such an incredible institution,” he said. “When things got tough after UCLA scored the goal in the second half, we still found a way to win and that epitomizes what Notre Dame is all about.”