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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Irish look to repeat

Bobby Griffin | Thursday, August 18, 2005

When Irish forward Jill Krivacek’s penalty kick sailed past UCLA goalie Valerie Henderson in last December’s national championship game, Notre Dame reached a level of excellence that had not been attained since their NCAA title in 1995. However, just a year later, and a full offseason of reliving their magical season finished, the Irish are ready to prove that there is no such thing as a grace period after a team wins a title. And for good reason.The Irish return a mature team that features eight seniors and eight juniors, including senior Erika Bohn who was the winning goalkeeper in last year’s championship game. Bohn also received the distinction of being the Final Four’s most outstanding defensive player. Bohn was responsible for preserving a 1-1 tie with minutes remaining in regulation when she successfully saved a Kendel Billingsly penalty kick. Krivacek, junior, who scored the winning goal in the championship, will also be returning.Other returning seniors include Candace Chapman, Miranda Ford, Maggie Manning, Amber McMillin, Annie Schefter, Katie Thorlakson – who tied the score at one against UCLA last December – and Jenny Walz. Irish coach Randy Waldrum understands that in order for his team to be successful, they have to maintain the same focus that allowed them to achieve great things last season.”I think now the whole key will be making sure they don’t come back in any kind of comfort or a relaxed area,” Waldrum said. “That’s the biggest thing we’ve had our eye on – to make sure we don’t have any drop off.”Waldrum does think, however, that to this point, his team has worked hard to make sure they are intense and focused.”I really don’t think that’s been the case,” Waldrum said about his team displaying signs of comfort early this season. “We watched that close in the spring, and it was one of our best springs ever. The intensity level just grew. They did what they needed to do to get ready to play.”The off season was quite busy for the Irish on several fronts, as the coaching staff put together a top recruiting class and Irish players competed on various club teams. Thorlakson also had the honor of being nominated for the ESPY award given to the best female college athlete.But with the regular season quickly approaching, the Irish are now looking for a repeat. And with Notre Dame coming off a NCAA title, there is even more attention on the program.”Whether you’re a student here or a student athlete here, Notre Dame is always under a microscope anyway because of who we are,” Waldrum said. “So we are used to playing with a target, and I think we just made it a little bit bigger.” The Irish have already shown offensive sparks early on this season, beating Butler in an exhibition game 8-1 on Aug. 14. Notre Dame was led by freshman Brittany Bock who had two goals and an assist.With that said, 2005 should still be challenging for the Irish despite their early season success. The team faces several quality opponents including Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Santa Clara and Villanova.