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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish get used to shutouts

Michael Gotimer | Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Eight games into its young 2009 season, every contest No. 14 Notre Dame has played in has ended in a shutout.

However, unlike the 2008 squad, which was 8-0 after its first eight games, this year’s Irish find themselves at 5-3 one game into their conference season.

In their three losses this season, opponents have outscored the Irish by a combined score of 10-0. On the other hand, in their five victories, the Irish have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 14-0.

Despite the seemingly lopsided margins in all of Notre Dame’s performances, coach Waldrum doesn’t think that the shutouts raise much cause for concern early in the season.

“Somebody had brought that to my attention recently and I hadn’t even realized that,” Waldrum said. “I’m not sure if it’s a fluke or whether or not there’s a trend there.”

One of the main reasons that Waldrum isn’t concerned about the early shutout trend revolves around the caliber of the teams that the Irish have lost to this season, as North Carolina, Stanford and Santa Clara are currently ranked No. 1, 2 and 9, respectively, in the current NSCAA poll.

“I think in the losses that we got shut out in, we lost to very good teams, and the games that we’ve won we were supposed to win,” Waldrum said. “Those are fantastic teams [that the Irish have lost to] where you could play your best game ever and still lose.”

Waldrum believes that some of the shutout losses may have occurred as a result of the team’s relatively young core being somewhat unfamiliar with playing from behind.

“I think a little bit of it is where last year we had a fantastic year,” Waldrum said. “Six of our ten field players this year are freshmen and sophomores and they only played from behind four minutes all of last season, so this is a new experience for them and we’re still trying to find our way a little bit.”

In the games themselves, the Irish tried to adjust their strategy late in the game against both Santa Clara and Stanford to try to create offensive opportunities and tie the games.

“We played well against Santa Clara,” Waldrum said. “We were down [by one goal] late in the game so we shifted some players up and tried to tie the game. It was similar in the Stanford game.”

Waldrum likened those contests to comparable contests for other teams on the Notre Dame campus in recent years, including the football team and women’s basketball team, where the teams played extremely well but came up just short in the end.

“We want to schedule good teams early so you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can adjust for the playoffs,” Waldrum said. “It’s like when Notre Dame football plays USC every year and a few years ago when they had Brady Quinn, although they played a fantastic game, they still lost.”

“I think we played three really, really good games,” Waldrum continued, “like when the women’s basketball team plays Tennessee or UConn.”

With the majority of the Big East portion of its schedule still ahead,

Notre Dame has a chance to beat some quality competition before the postseason starts, where the Irish will undoubtedly see teams like North Carolina, Stanford and Santa Clara.