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ND Women’s Soccer: Taking the hard way

Bill Brink | Friday, September 7, 2007

Fresh off a 3-0 win over Florida on Sunday, No. 2 Notre Dame will travel to California to play No. 3 Santa Clara and No. 5 Stanford in the SCU Adidas Classic this weekend.

Santa Clara is 1-0-0 after beating San Jose State 3-2 last Friday. Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum described Santa Clara’s style of play as similar to that of the Irish, who handed the Broncos one of their five losses a season ago.

“We know it will be a soccer game because that’s the way they are,” Waldrum said. “It won’t be a physical bloodbath kind of a thing. There will be two teams trying to play some good soccer.”

Stanford is 2-0-0 with wins over Boston University and Connecticut. Waldrum noted that sophomore forward Kelley O’Hara will be tough to contain.

“We’ve got to be aware of her speed,” Waldrum said. “We can’t give her the kind of time on the ball that she’d like to have.”

Waldrum said there are two ways to contain fast players like O’Hara – keep the ball away from her entirely, or play the defense deep in their own zone to prevent O’Hara from getting behind them.

“You’ve got to do one of the two things,” he said. “If you get caught halfway in between either of those you’re going to be in trouble.”

Waldrum said the Irish faced a similar threat against Florida in junior midfielder Ameera Abdullah. Irish sophomore defensive midfielder Amanda Clark had the task of watching Abdullah.

“Amanda did a great job of keeping her out of the game,” Waldrum said. “I think AC can handle [O’Hara] as well.”

The Irish used all three goalkeepers in their first two games, but Waldrum said he settled on senior Lauren Karas as the starter. Karas played the entire game against Florida.

“They got down and had a lot of crosses and service into the box that she had to deal with, and quite a few corner kicks that she had to deal with that weren’t really shots but balls in the air with people around her that she had to deal with,” Waldrum said.

Although she made only one save, Waldrum said the way she handled the wet conditions and difficult situations elevated her above the others.

“It was a ball driven to the opposite post that she had to dive to get,” Waldrum said of the lone save. “Usually in the wet surface like that the goalkeepers mishandle it or bobble it and the rebounds come out and she held it clean. There were players all around that were just ready to tap it in.”

Waldrum said sophomore keeper Kelsey Lysander would make the trip as well in a backup role.

Junior Carrie Dew, still recovering from an ACL injury suffered last season, came off the bench in Notre Dame’s first game against Michigan, but started against Florida.

“She’s getting better and better,” Waldrum said. “I think she’ll be ready to go this weekend.”

The freshmen got their first taste of live action last weekend and are adjusting nicely, according to Waldrum. One freshmen, midfielder Lauren Fowlkes, started both games and said that the college game differs stylistically from high school.

“I think that it’s a lot more of a physical game than coming from high school,” Fowlkes said. “A lot more is demanded of you in the college game but it’s good because the speed of play is a lot better.”

Fowlkes said that to be successful this weekend, the team needed to become more consistent.

“We’ll put together a good 20 or 30 minutes and then drop back for like 15 or 20 minutes,” she said. “We need to put the whole game together on offense and on defense.”