Irish prepare for playoffs
Chris Khorey | Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Notre Dame is one game away from an unbeaten regular season.
After going 3-0-1 during fall break, the Irish take on Cincinnati tonight on the road in a makeup of Sept. 22’s game that was cancelled due to lightning.
No. 1 Notre Dame (16-0-1, 9-0-1 Big East) won three road contests last week, beating Providence 5-0 Oct. 15, Villanova 4-2 Friday and Georgetown 1-0 Sunday. The Irish also tied Connecticut 0-0 Oct. 13.
Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum said the week off from classes was a welcome opportunity to rest for the team after midterms.
“The hard part was coming off of midterms exams,” Waldrum said. “The week was used to not only train but to catch up academically a little bit.”
The Bearcats come into tonight’s game 7-8-2 and 3-6-1 in the Big East. They are currently one point behind Seton Hall for the 10th and final slot in the conference tournament, which begins Wednesday. Because the Bearcats lost to the Pirates on Sunday, they need to beat the Irish tonight to qualify for the tournament.
Notre Dame has clinched both a berth in the tournament and a first round bye, but Waldrum said he is not concerned about Cincinnati’s emotion in what could be the last game of the Bearcats’ season because Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova were in similar situations when the Irish played them.
“The last two or three games, we’ve run into teams that desperately need wins,” he said. “When we played UConn, we were playing a desperate team. They were on the verge of missing the conference tournament, which is unheard of for them.”
Waldrum also said the Irish have motivation of their own.
“We’ve reminded our kids that we need to win as many games as we can to get home field advantage in the NCAA tournament,” he said.
Notre Dame 0, Connecticut 0
The Irish and Huskies tied Oct. 13 in Storrs, Conn., giving Notre Dame the first blemish on its record and Connecticut a berth in the Big East Tournament.
“We ran into a UConn team that was ready to play, but we also ran into a little bit of the fatigue from midterms, from staying up late and studying,” Waldrum said.
Waldrum said his players were upset immediately following the tie, but by their next game against Georgetown, the emotion had subsided.
“They were upset about it and they hope to get to play Connecticut down the road, but its not something that’s going to be in their minds the rest of the season,” he said.
Irish junior forward Amanda Cinalli had Notre Dame’s best scoring chance, a header on a cross from sophomore Brittany Bock with only nine minutes left in the game, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
Notre Dame 5, Providence 0
The Irish bounced back from their tie against UConn with a drubbing of the Friars on the road Oct. 15.
Sophomore Kerri Hanks became the youngest player in Irish history to reach 100 career points and 40 career goals with her score and two assists while Bock and Cinalli added goals of their own.
Notre Dame held Providence without a shot on goal or a corner kick in earning its 12th shutout of the season.
Notre Dame 4, Villanova 2
The Irish allowed multiple goals for the first time this season but managed a 4-2 win over the Wildcats in Philadelphia Friday.
The initial Villanova goal, the first allowed by Notre Dame in six games, came four minutes into the second half by freshmen Erin Byrnes and tied the game at one.
“We had a little bit of a break down in the flank area,” Waldrum said. “We turned the ball over and didn’t over quick enough and then the kid made a really good shot.”
Byrnes also scored Villanova’s second goal, a shot with less than a minute remaining. It was the first goal the Irish have allowed in the second half of a game this year.
“I thought we went to sleep instead of finishing the game off,” Waldrum said.
Notre Dame 1, Georgetown 0
The Irish shut out their 13th opponent of the season Sunday with a 1-0 victory over the Hoyas in Washington, D.C.
Sophomore Carrie Dew headed in a cross from Hanks early in the second half for the game’s only goal.
Georgetown (5-9-5, 2-7-2 Big East) needed a win to have any chance to qualify for the Big East tournament but didn’t get it.
uWaldrum said he will give the team Wednesday and possibly Thursday off from practice in preparation for a Big East tournament game Saturday or Sunday.
“They need the rest and a chance to catch up on school work,” Waldrum said. Notre Dame will have played three games in five days after today.