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Women Soccer Commentary: Students should support contenders

Fran Tolan | Friday, August 31, 2007

Eight months after Notre Dame fell to North Carolina in the 2006 national championship game in the Tar Heels’ home state, a record crowd of 3,412 turned out at Alumni Field on Aug. 19 for the rematch of that final. The Irish played the defending champions to a 2-2 draw in the friendly.But tonight’s contest is Notre Dame’s first regular-season Irish home game. And the Irish deserve a tremendous home-field advantage.”Last year, the fan support had as much to do with us going to the Final Four as anything,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said.While the crowd for the North Carolina game was a sellout, it was a group composed primarily of South Bend natives. Tonight, every student is back on campus, providing the main ingredient for a raucous crowd.”The local community has always been very supportive but it was great last year to have such student support,” Waldrum said. “Let’s be honest, the student body gives the games the great atmosphere.”The Irish still are ranked No. 2 nationally despite the loss of five starters from the 2006 national title game. With enough fan support, it’ll be easier to assure that the Irish will not fall in the rankings because of a setback at home.The effect of having a huge crowd on their side was evident as the Irish outshot North Carolina 14-7. Because host Notre Dame was able to handily outplay the top-ranked team in the country, it is difficult to imagine that it could drop a match at home.Waldrum said that it was energizing to see so many students in the stands last year, even when weather conditions deteriorated toward the end of the season.Clear skies and warm temperatures are expected tonight. With the increased school spirit common to football weekends, fan participation should swell.”We’re expecting a packed house,” Waldrum said.So, after this afternoon’s pep rally, help one Irish squad in its first step towards another possible Final Four appearance.”We want [students] to come learn the chants and be loud and harass the other teams,” Waldrum said. “We basically want them to do what good fans do.”Because if they do, the unranked Wolverines don’t stand a chance.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.Contact Fran Tolan at ftolan@nd.edu