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ND Women’s Soccer: Big East challenges Irish

Alex Barker | Wednesday, October 14, 2009

While this year’s Irish team hasn’t quite enjoyed the success they had last season, they do share one impressive similarity with last year’s near-perfect squad: an unbeaten Big East conference record.

Notre Dame (10-3-1, 6-0-1 Big East) sits comfortably atop the conference standings with 19 points, five more than second-place Rutgers, with just four games left to play.

“I’m really pleased with where we are in the conference, especially having played such a difficult [non-conference] schedule early on, losing to Carolina and losing two games out in California,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We are making a lot of progress which is what you hope for with such a young team.”

But the comparisons with last year’s team end there. This season, Notre Dame has faced much stiffer competition from a conference slate that it steamrolled just a season ago.

After a 4-0 blowout of DePaul in the Big East opener, the schedule has been anything but easy for the heavily favored Irish. In the following match at Cincinnati, the Irish dominated play, but needed two goals from sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller to overcome a one-goal deficit in the final minutes to pull out a victory.

Two days later, the Irish managed just one goal at home against an overmatched Louisville squad that boasts just a single victory in conference play.

“If you were to ask me last summer, I would have been surprised [by the number of close matches],” Waldrum said. “But considering the fact that we lost some good players to injury early in the season, these close results don’t surprise me that much now.”

Against West Virginia, Notre Dame once again had to overcome a second-half deficit, this time taking the Mountaineers into overtime before escaping with a 3-2 victory. The Irish’s only blemish on their Big East record came at Pittsburgh where they battled to a scoreless draw.

While this doesn’t seem like the Irish performances of the past, Waldrum sees plenty of benefit in the experience that his young team is gaining from these tight matches.

 
 

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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archive

ND Women’s Soccer: Big East challenges Irish

Alex Barker | Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While this year’s Irish team hasn’t quite enjoyed the success they had last season, they do share one impressive similarity with last year’s near-perfect squad: an unbeaten Big East conference record.

Notre Dame (10-3-1, 6-0-1 Big East) sits comfortably atop the conference standings with 19 points, five more than second-place Rutgers, with just four games left to play.

“I’m really pleased with where we are in the conference, especially having played such a difficult [non-conference] schedule early on, losing to Carolina and losing two games out in California,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We are making a lot of progress which is what you hope for with such a young team.”

But the comparisons with last year’s team end there. This season, Notre Dame has faced much stiffer competition from a conference slate that it steamrolled just a season ago.

After a 4-0 blowout of DePaul in the Big East opener, the schedule has been anything but easy for the heavily favored Irish. In the following match at Cincinnati, the Irish dominated play, but needed two goals from sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller to overcome a one-goal deficit in the final minutes to pull out a victory.

Two days later, the Irish managed just one goal at home against an overmatched Louisville squad that boasts just a single victory in conference play.

“If you were to ask me last summer, I would have been surprised [by the number of close matches],” Waldrum said. “But considering the fact that we lost some good players to injury early in the season, these close results don’t surprise me that much now.”

Against West Virginia, Notre Dame once again had to overcome a second-half deficit, this time taking the Mountaineers into overtime before escaping with a 3-2 victory. The Irish’s only blemish on their Big East record came at Pittsburgh where they battled to a scoreless draw.

While this doesn’t seem like the Irish performances of the past, Waldrum sees plenty of benefit in the experience that his young team is gaining from these tight matches.

“I really think that a lot of good can come from playing in close games,” he said. “In 2004, when we won the national championship, that team had something like 12 games where we had to score late to win the game. That year it really prepared us well for the playoffs and I think it will do the same for our team this year.”

With their thrilling overtime victory over the Mountaineers, the Irish took over sole possession of the NCAA’s Division I record for the longest conference unbeaten streak at 56 consecutive matches (54-0-2), a streak that spans five seasons.

“As weird as it is to say it, [the streak] is really not all that important to us,” Waldrum said. “Obviously both the current and former players are really proud of it, but it’s not something we talk about often. It’s not high on our priority list. We are more focused on winning the Big East championship and making a deep run in the NCAA tournament.”

Although the streak has now made its way to 59 consecutive matches after wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall, Waldrum still seeks some improvements offensively from his team that he believes could put them over the top.

“I would like to be more efficient in our goal scoring,” he said. “We are starting to play much better defense collectively as a team and we are starting to create more scoring opportunities. But in order to be at our best, we need to start finishing them off. If we do that I think we can really make a run in the NCAA tournament.”