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ND Women’s Soccer: No. 1 Irish travel to Texas for two games

Tim Dougherty | Friday, September 8, 2006

Notre Dame’s No. 1 ranking will be on the line underneath the Friday night lights of Texas, as the Irish battle unranked TCU in Fort Worth tonight in the first of two non-conference contests this weekend.

The Irish, now 4-0 and atop both the adidas/NCSAA and Soccer Times coaches polls, will complete their first of three two-game road trips this season when they take on Southern Methodist in Dallas Sunday afternoon.

TCU is looking for its third straight win after defeating Texas Tech 2-0 and Oral Roberts 6-2 last weekend. TCU was led by midfielders Michelle Nguyen, who scored two goals on the weekend, and Lauren Pope, who had a hat trick against the Golden Eagles. Nguyen recorded a goal and assist in each game, while Pope netted a hat trick against Oral Roberts. Though Irish coach and Irving, Texas, native Randy Waldrum said he wouldn’t go over strategy with the team until today, he knows they’ll need to stop that pair to be successful.

“Those two kids we know pretty well from [high school in] Texas that at some point in time we had on our recruiting list,” Waldrum said. “They’ll be more of their attacking threats.”

Notre Dame will have sophomores midfielder/forward Brittany Bock and defender Carrie Dew back after missing four games due to their participation in the U-20 World Championships in Russia – though Waldrum does not plan on rushing them into action after missing time with the team. In their absence the Irish have outscored their opponents 16-2, as junior forward and Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week Amanda Cinalli led Notre Dame to a 3-1 win over then co-No. 1 Santa Clara with two goals and an assist. Junior keeper Lauren Karas has also earned the starting nod in the net after posting two wins last weekend.

The Horned Frogs (2-2) will welcome the Irish for the first meeting between the two schools by dedicating the brand new lights in Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium at halftime of the 7 p.m. start.

While the Irish are 51-5-2 all time when playing with the NCSAA top ranking, Friday’s match in Fort Worth will also mark the first time TCU faces a No. 1 foe since the school kept those records in 1999.

Considering all the elements in play, the Irish expect a hot, electric atmosphere in the Friday night Texas heat.

“It’s probably going to be like in Mississippi where its 95 degrees at night,” Waldrum said. “There’s going to be a record crowd from everything I’ve heard, indicating that we’re going into a hostile [environment].”

According to Notre Dame captain Kim Lorenzen, it’s an environment the Irish are looking forward to.

“As a team this is going to be [TCU’s] biggest game of the season,” Lorenzen said. “They’re going to have a brand new stadium and they are expecting to sell it out. Our coaches always talk about how being number one puts a target on your back, but at the same time, with our younger players it’s kind of exciting and will help to fuel them hopefully.”

Following Friday night’s bout, the Irish will remain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to play unranked SMU (2-1-1) Sunday, as Waldrum tries to upend Mustang coach and personal mentor John Cossaboon.

Before coaching NCAA tournament teams at San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, Cossaboon was the director of coaching for the North Texas State Soccer Association from 1982-90, while Waldrum was coaching youth soccer in Dallas. It was then that Cossaboon got Waldrum involved in ODP training and kicked off Waldrum’s decorated coaching career.

“He was a coaching mentor,” Waldrum said. “I learned a lot from him in terms of education.”

Sunday the pupil brings his No. 1 unit to Westcott Field seeking to deny the teacher a chance for his 50th victory at SMU. But Waldrum is expecting a battle.

“They lost to North Carolina early this year [3-0],” Waldrum said. “And I know him well enough that he knows you have to win some big games early on to get to the NCAA, so I know they’re going to be hungry for this one.

“They’re going to be a very difficult team. Athletically they’re going to be tough.”

While the eyes of Texas will be upon the Irish this weekend, everyone else will get the opportunity next Tuesday when CSTV replays Sunday’s match at 8 p.m.