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ND Women’s Soccer: Colorado stampedes into Alumni Field for round of sixteen

Tim Dougherty | Friday, November 17, 2006

After squirting by Wisconsin-Milwaukee last Sunday 1-0, Notre Dame hopes to regain its top-ranked form against the Notre Dame region’s No. 4 seed Colorado tonight in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament at 7:30 at Alumni Field.

Though the Irish are making their 12th NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in the last 14 years, they will face an upstart Colorado squad (14-5-4) led by a national freshman of the year finalist striker Nikki Marshall. In her first season as a Buffalo, Marshall’s 17 goals and 38 points have set nine school records. Colorado won a pair of 2-1 games against Colorado College and Denver last weekend in Boulder to earn the trip to Alumni Field.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, enters the match after beating Oakland (Mich.) 7-1 last Friday before struggling to get by Wisconsin-Milwaukee in what coach Randy Waldrum called one of the closest games in the seven years he has been at Notre Dame. Freshman Michele Weissenhofer scored in the fifth minute, as the Irish held on the rest of the way for the win, despite only outshooting the Panthers 9-7 – Notre Dame’s closest margin on the year.

“I think we were a little slow in stepping up with the outside backs in to cover some of the positions in the wide areas of the field,” Waldrum said. “We spent some time this week refreshing it. It wasn’t anything new they threw at us. We just didn’t deal with it well.”

Irish senior captain defender Kim Lorenzen said Notre Dame’s defense will need to control the ball more than they did Sunday to give themselves the best chance to win.

“On Sunday we found ourselves defending a lot,” Lorenzen said. “In optimal situations we don’t want to be defending as much as we are.”

Waldrum said the Irish defense will face a dangerous challenge tonight in Marshall and Co.

“She’s deadly fast,” he said. “They’re going to be one of the better teams we’ve played this year if the video tape holds up when we get them here in person.”

The Irish should be aided by the return of senior defender Christie Shaner who sat out last weekend due to illness. Although Shaner and sophomore Brittany Bock did not practice Wednesday, Waldrum said they were precautionary measures due to the rainy weather this week. He expects both to play tonight.

In addition to Irish health, the weather may affect conditions on the pitch, which has been rained on all week. However, precipitation is expected to stop several hours before game time.

“We’re just really focusing on making sure our touches are good, getting used to this awful weather and getting used to these conditions,” said Lorenzen about practice this week. “Because chances are it will be like that Friday.”

Whatever the weather brings, Waldrum expects his team to be focused and ready,

“At least this time of year I guess you can’t be too critical if you’re still playing the next game. As disappointing as I thought the performance was, I’d be shocked if we don’t come out Friday very good. The kids have had a good week of training.

And they know. They don’t need us to beat [last Sunday’s game] to death all week. It’s behind us. We can’t go back and replay that game.”

Admission for the first 100 students to arrive at Alumni Field will be waived, as the Irish play potentially their penultimate home match this season.