ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Frequent fliers
Ken Fowler | Friday, September 30, 2005
Notre Dame will travel to the far corners of the Big East this weekend for two games as the Irish enter the heart of their conference schedule.
No. 18 Marquette (9-1-1), in its first year in the Big East, will host Notre Dame (9-1-0) Friday in Milwaukee in a battle of two exceptional defensive teams. Fellow conference newcomer South Florida (5-2-1) will host the Irish for the first time in history Sunday.
The Irish have allowed just one goal in their last five matches and have posted six shutouts in 10 games this season. Marquette has had just as much defensive success, also holding six opponents scoreless in their first 11 games. The Golden Eagles posted their sixth shutout of the season Sunday, defeating Providence, 2-0.
Though conventional wisdom may predict a low-scoring affair, Irish head coach Randy Waldrum thinks the game could be high-scoring.
“Sometimes you get just the opposite [of your initial inclinations],” Waldrum said. “I’ve got a feeling the game could open up.”
He said Marquette’s aggressiveness on offense often leaves its defense struggling to get back in position when opponents take possession.
“They’re very fast, they’re very athletic,” Waldrum said of the Golden Eagles. “They’re not a team that sits back.
“Sometimes they’re a little disorganized in getting back in form. It’s going to be really important for us to counter [Marquette’s aggression] and … capitalize.”
That Notre Dame has done well all year. The Irish lead the nation in goals per game with 4.8 and have the nation’s leading scoring tandem in senior forward Katie Thorlakson with 31 points and second-semester freshman forward Kerri Hanks with 37.
The Irish have played three Big East games thus far and have yet to surrender a goal. Marquette is 2-1 in conference play, beating South Florida and Providence and losing to Connecticut, 2-1.
Waldrum said the Irish are sharper and more focused now that the team has played several games and entered its conference schedule.
“I do think we step it up [against Big East opponents],” Waldrum said.
After the Irish play Marquette, they will have a quick turnaround to travel to Tampa to face the Bulls of South Florida.
Waldrum said the team will begin its journey at 4 a.m. with a bus ride from Wisconsin to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and the team won’t arrive in Tampa until late that afternoon or evening.
“It’s a hard thing to do physically – not getting the rest that you should,” Waldrum said. “With the way the conference is now, it’s the only way you can [play all your conference games].”
He said the Irish will not look past the rebuilding Bulls.
“The new teams [to the conference], it’s been a new excitement for the players,” he said.
“We played Connecticut three times last year. [Playing South Florida] is kind of exciting because it’s something different.”
And Notre Dame playing anyone is a big game for the opponent.
“Our kids have to understand that we’re probably going to be South Florida’s biggest game of the year,” Waldrum said.
“They’ll be a well-coached, disciplined team,” he said.
Waldrum said he expected defender Kim Lorenzen to see limited playing time this weekend for the first time since Notre Dame’s Sept. 9 loss to Santa Clara.