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WOMEN’S SOCCER: Women can rebound from first loss of year

Molly Griffin | Friday, September 23, 2005

After defeating DePaul last weekend, the No. 5 Irish are now entering the thick of the Big East season – and they will take on two new faces this weekend when they host Cincinnati Friday and travel to Louisville Sunday.

With the new configuration of the Big East conference, the Irish will have many new opponents this year, including the Bearcats and Cardinals.

Notre Dame (7-1-0) has steamrolled its opponents for the most part this season, with the one exception its road loss against Santa Clara.

The Irish will look to continue their strong play through the offensive power of Katie Thorlakson and Kerri Hanks. Hanks leads the Irish with 13 goals this season, and Thorlakson was named Big East player of the week for the fifth time in her collegiate career.

Christie Shaner was named to the Soccer America National Team of the Week after her defensive performance against DePaul and Michigan, becoming the fourth Irish player to receive that award this season.

The Irish are scoring 5.13 goals per game, and giving up 0.63 goals per game. They are also getting 21.4 shots per game, while giving up just 3.8. They are also 4-0 at home.

Cincinnati has struggled so far this season, compiling a 2-4-2 overall record, 0-1-0 in conference play. Its conference loss came against the same Louisville team that Notre Dame will visit Sunday.

Shaner spoke about the team’s preparation the day before games, noting that their practices usually consist of going over how teams attack and defend.

“One way to have an advantage on a team is knowing what they are going to try to do in a game in order to take advantage,” Shaner said.

Despite being a new addition to the Big East, the Bearcats have a history with the Irish dating back to 2001.

In the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament, the visiting Cincinnati upset a heavily-favored Notre Dame squad.

Candace Chapman was the only Irish player around at that time, but did not play in that game due to illness.

The loss was uncharacteristic for the Irish, as they are 56-3-2 against opponents not ranked in the top 25, and 35-3-0 in post-season play.

Besides Chapman, current Irish players were not around at the time and it is not something on their minds heading into Friday’s game.

“We just kind of take one game at a time, and sort of concentrate on playing that day or night,” Shaner said. “That kind of stuff is not really in the back of our mind.”

Louisville is 6-2-0 on the season, and 1-0-0 in the Big East. Their losses came against UAB and Xavier.

Given Notre Dame’s success so far this season, the Irish expect to get two wins this weekend. With that said, Shaner explained the difficultly in mentally preparing for these types of games.

“Sometimes it is harder to get up for those games because we know that we should come out with a win,” Shaner said. “But we have to take the mindset that it is going to be like a Santa Clara or Virginia because when we play big, big teams that are ranked top in the country … our team knows how to mentally prepare ourselves.”

Notre Dame will host Cincinnati at 5 p.m. today.