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ND Women’s Soccer: View from the top

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There was no question top-ranked Notre Dame felt it deserved a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish were just happy they didn’t have to wait long to see their optimism validated.

On the NCAA Tournament Selection show Monday night on ESPNEWS, the Irish earned the top overall seed in the Tournament and the “Notre Dame Region.” The team watched the telecast in the Joyce Center auditorium and cheered as its seed was the first one displayed.

“For it to come up right away as the No. 1 seed, that’s fantastic,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “I think it’s the right decision based on the year we’ve had.”

But the top overall seed was not as much of a sure thing as it might have seemed for undefeated Notre Dame. Waldrum warned his team before the show that since its RPI was just 6 through Nov. 2, the selection committee might not award the Irish a top seed.

The team was glad, then, as highlights of Sunday’s Big East Championship win over Connecticut played on the auditorium’s big screen at the beginning of the selection show. As the show aired a clip of Irish freshman Melissa Henderson’s game-clinching goal that eliminated the Huskies, one Notre Dame player erupted with a playful, “See ya!”

As long as the Irish can keep winning like they have all season, they will have home-field advantage until the College Cup semifinals in Cary, N.C.

Irish senior captain Brittany Bock said the team was expecting a No. 1 seed and was happy it secured one.

“I think we were definitely expecting it and we were hoping,” she said. “You know, sometimes things don’t always work out how you want them to. But to go undefeated – 21-0 the whole season … we were expecting the one-seed and I think it’s good to be on top there.”

Notre Dame will take on Toledo in the NCAA First Round at Alumni Field Friday. If the Irish defeat the No. 16-seeded Rockets, they will play either Michigan State or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Big East rival Marquette also earned a spot on Notre Dame’s side of the bracket.

No. 2-seeded Florida State, who defeated Notre Dame in last season’s College Cup Semifinals, would face the Irish in the fourth round at Alumni Field if both teams were to advance that far.

Despite the possible juicy matchups in later rounds of play, Waldrum said the Irish will concentrate solely on Toledo during practice this week.

“You’ve literally now gotta make sure you’re really focused on Toledo Friday night…We know we’re at home as long as we take care of business,” the coach said.

Still, Waldrum said his team would not need extra motivation if it did again meet Florida State.

“We just have to make sure we come out, you know, on our end and then whoever winds up in that round, we’ll play them,” he said. “And if it’s Florida State, then I don’t think there’ll have to be a whole lot said during that week to get ready for them.”

Irish assistant coach Ken Nuber’s pair of toddlers, who were dressed as a leprechaun and a cheerleader, entertained several of the players before the selection show. But the Irish became business-like when the telecast began. Senior forward Kerri Hanks took notes as the brackets were displayed and the room quieted as seedings were announced. Bock said the team could not be more ready to play heading into the Tournament.

“It’s full-speed ahead,” she said. “… Now we just take it one game at a time. We’re going to play Toledo on Friday so we’ll just look to have a good week of practice and get ready for that game.”