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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish face four road tests

Chris Khorey | Friday, October 13, 2006

There are only two weeks left in the regular season, but No. 1 Notre Dame still has a long way to go.The Irish (13-0, 6-0 Big East) play four road conference games over the next two weekends against UConn today, Providence Sunday, No. 23 Villanova Oct. 20 and Georgetown Oct. 22.The Wildcats (13-0-2, 5-0-2 Big East) are second behind the Irish in the conference’s National Division. Other than Notre Dame, Villanova is the only undefeated team in the NSCAA Top 25. Led by freshman defender Kelly Eagan, Villanova has allowed just two goals this season.”Villanova’s a good team,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “There’s a reason they’re undefeated.”Because the game is the second to last of the conference season, it will likely decide the National Division championship, although both teams need to get through the upcoming weekend first.The Wildcats have road games against Pittsburgh and No. 7 West Virginia, while the Irish have to take on the Huskies and Friars.Providence is in last place in the American Division at 3-5-5 overall and 0-5-2 in the conference, and, while UConn has struggled to a 7-7-1 record (4-3-0 in conference) this year, Waldrum said the Huskies are a very dangerous opponent.”They have a very talented team,” he said. “They got off on the wrong foot a little bit this year, but they’ll be right there in the Big East tournament.”Unlike earlier in the season, the Irish have few injuries and no players playing in tournaments abroad. Still, Waldrum said the starting lineup will continue to be fluid from game to game.”We don’t quite have our starting 11 set,” he said. “If we set it too early, then people will just say ‘oh, I’m not starting,’ and they might not work as hard. Plus we have two games every weekend, so we want to sub and keep players from getting fatigued.”By the time we get to the Big East and NCAA tournaments, we’ll have our lineup more set.”In order to keep his squad focused throughout the season, Waldrum devised a system of rating each players’ practice effort, then posting standings in the locker room.”We post the results so they can all look at them,” he said. “We don’t talk much about it, but they always look at the results.”On Tuesday, the team played a four-team intrasquad tournament, something Waldrum said he likes to do to break the monotony of running drills. The tournament results were factored into the practice standings.”We like to make sure they’re always competing,” Waldrum said.Waldrum said focus will be especially important during fall break, when the team will remain on campus while their class and dorm-mates head home.”We’re going to try to do some team activities, possibly catch a movie or go bowling,” said Waldrum of the squad’s plans over break. “Also, we’re going to have some practices in the morning instead of the afternoon – anything to keep them from lying around all day.”The first round of the Big East tournament begins Oct. 25 at campus sites. If the season ended today, the Irish would be playing the Friars at Alumni Field that day.