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ND Women’s Soccer: Bring on the Bearcats

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, October 31, 2008

Few teams can say they’ve ended their regular season undefeated, but that’s why Notre Dame is No. 1, and the Irish hope to carry that perfect record right to the Big East Championship. The first test starts Sunday when the Irish take on Cincinnati in the Big East quarterfinals on Alumni Field.

The Bearcats (11-6-3) enter the contest having knocked off St. John’s 1-0 Thursday night to make the quarterfinals. Julie Morrissey scored the Bearcats’ only goal in the 56th minute. The Irish are no strangers to Cincinnati, having defeated the Bearcats 6-0 on Sept. 28, but that doesn’t mean Notre Dame is certain of a win or a guaranteed spot in the championship.

The Irish did not practice Thursday or Friday, gaining a little extra rest to prepare for Sunday. The last competition Notre Dame saw came on Oct. 26, when the Irish defeated Seton Hall 6-0 in their final game of the season. The players hope that extra rest will help them to succeed far into the post-season.

“We’re always completely driven,” senior captain Carrie Dew said. “We’re really ready and I think we’ll have a little extra rest not playing on Thursday or Friday. We’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

That’s always been the Irish style, to leave everything they have on the field, and the Irish plan on doing that Sunday.

“I think it’s a game where we’ll go back – we’ve kind of felt this way every time we stepped on the field this year, some games more than others – but I feel like it’s a game that, regardless of which team we play, it’s about how well we perform and what we’re going to do,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We can really only focus our execution of what we want to get done. I feel like if we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Waldrum said the post-season is not likely to mean changes to Notre Dame’s game either. And if it’s anything like the regular season, that could mean a lot of scoring from multiple faces on the field. The Irish outscored their opponents 64-8 in the regular season, and 16 different Irish players pitched in.

Senior Kerri Hanks leads the Irish with 18 goals, with Melissa Henderson in a close second with 15. The Irish defense hasn’t been quiet either, allowing only eight goals with Dea and keeper Kelsey Lysander at its backbone.

But Waldrum said it will be hard to tell if players will see as much rotation in the postseason.

“That’s probably going to fall on a game-by-game basis. If we can keep the rotation, we will,” he said. “But if we get into a game where we feel like we need to leave our forward line on a little bit more [and] our midfielders on a little bit more, then we’ll do that. That’s the plus side of having the rotation and doing it as much as we’ve done this year. It gives us two different options.”

Options that are likely to help the Irish continue far into the postseason.