Women’s Soccer: Irish want revenge at Marquette
Bobby Griffin | Friday, November 4, 2005
A month ago, the Marquette Golden Eagles embarrassed Notre Dame, 4-1, in the team’s worst conference loss in a decade. Tonight, the Irish hope to return the favor and further their quest for the team’s first Big East Tournament title since 2001.
No. 5 Notre Dame travels to Milwaukee to face No. 11 Marquette in the Big East semifinals today, attempting to win its first conference postseason crown in four years against a team that knocked the Irish off on Sept. 30.
Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said the team’s 4-1 loss earlier this season to Marquette has inspired the Irish leading up to the weekend competition.
“I probably haven’t seen them this excited for a Big East Tournament in the last few years,” he said. “It’s something they’re looking forward to.”
Senior Candace Chapman, who was named Big East defensive player of the year Thursday, knows what it means to have the chance to play a team for the second time in a season, especially when the opponent won the first meeting.
“We know we’re a good team and we know we should have won that game,” Chapman said. “Not a lot of teams get the chance to play a team you lost to.”
With NCAA tournament seeding on the line, Notre Dame has an extra incentive to perform this weekend, unlike last year when the Irish headed into the conference tournament undefeated.
“I haven’t thought too much about it [in the past] because my focus has always been on the NCAAs,” Waldrum said. “I’ve probably thought about [it] more this time.
“The tournament in the Big East has never been a big goal. For the first time … it is.”
Even if the Irish win this weekend’s tournament, Waldrum is concerned that it will not be enough for Notre Dame to obtain a top seed.
“I’m not the most optimistic about it,” Waldrum said. “I think some other things still would need to fall into place for us [to be in the top four].”
They will meet No. 11 Marquette tonight, with the winner moving on to play either Connecticut or West Virginia Sunday in the Big East Championship, also to be held in Milwaukee.
The Irish have not lost at home all season, compiling a 10-0 mark in South Bend. Their only two losses have come on the road – at Santa Clara and Marquette.
But the Marquette team that upset Notre Dame in late September will face a very different Irish team tonight.
For starters, Irish defender Kim Lorenzen will play for the Irish tonight. Lorenzen was injured in the previous meeting.
“We’ve got a team full of stars with kids like Chapman and [freshman forward Kerri] Hanks and [senior forward Katie] Thorlakson,” Waldrum said. “But I think Kim has always been the one player that I’ve said we can’t do without.”
With Notre Dame’s ability to pressure teams on offense and kill scoring opportunities on defense, the Irish are confident about their chances this weekend even though they are matched up against a team that beat them once already.
“I think we’ve got to be smart,” Waldrum said. “I think I’ve got to be a better coach than I was the last time we came here. I really wasn’t at my best, in hindsight, at making some moves.”
Offensively, there are not many teams that can compare to Notre Dame. Hanks (22 goals, 13 assists) and Thorlakson (15 goals, 26 assists) lead the team with 57 points and 56 points, respectively.
Thorlakson, who is seeking her first Big East Tournament title in her final season, was named the conference offensive player of the year Thursday night in the Big East awards banquet. Hanks took home rookie of the year honors.
When Amanda Cinalli is added to the mix, her six goals and 14 assists give the Irish an offensive unit that has 139 points on the season.
With the semifinal match late tonight and the final scheduled for 12 p.m. EST Sunday, Waldrum said he plans to use a heavier batch of substitutions than he did in the loss, especially because of the quick turnaround if the Irish advance to the finals.
“We’ve got to try to … stay fresh,” Waldrum said. “I think we’ll keep mixing it up.”
uJunior Jen Buczkowsi took home the Big East’s top honor for midfielders in the awards banquet Thursday. With Thorlakson, Chapman and Hanks also claiming top honors in their categories, Notre Dame became the first team to win four major Big East awards in a single year.