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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish host conference opponents

Mike Gotimer | Thursday, October 15, 2009

After playing its past four games on the road, No. 7/8 Notre Dame returns home to Alumni Stadium as it heads down the stretch for its last four conference matches.

The Irish (10-3-1, 6-0-1), holders of an NCAA-record 59-game conference unbeaten streak, begin their regular season stretch run when they host conference rival Connecticut Friday. Although the Irish no longer face any more opponents currently ranked in the NSCAA poll, The Huskies (9-5, 4-3) present the first hurdle for Notre Dame in what Irish coach Randy Waldrum believes should be a challenging four-game homestand.

“I think we’ve got a tough stretch of games here, starting with UConn,” Waldrum said. “They’ve been our rival in the Big East over the past few years, and they’ve got a very good team this year.”

Waldrum believes that the Huskies present a difficult matchup for the Irish because their style of play and talent level match up very well with Notre Dame’s.

“The history of the two teams all have been very close games, and I think that’s because we’re very similar,” Waldrum said. “I think UConn matches up very well with us talent wise, and their style of play is very similar to ours. They’ve got a real solid group that matches up well with us.”

On offense, the Huskies are led by talented freshman midfielder Linda Ruutu, whose six goals already tie her for the team lead with sophomore midfielder Melissa Busque. Waldrum also said Ruutu can pose challenges for the Irish with her excellent crossing ability. On the defensive side, the Huskies are led by junior midfielder Kacey Richards and redshirt senior defender Brittany Taylor, who received All-American honors after the 2007 season.

After taking on the Huskies Friday night, Notre Dame will face off against Providence Sunday. Although the Friars (7-5-3, 2-3-2) have the worst record of the four teams remaining on Notre Dame’s schedule, Waldrum still said they can threaten the Irish’s conference unbeaten steak with a different style of play that contrasts UConn’s.

“Providence gives you fits with their disruptive style,” Waldrum said. “They’ll try to disrupt what we’re going to try to do, so it’s difficult to play against like with a lot of less talented programs. UConn will try to play soccer with you – it’s two heavyweights going after each other.”

The Friars are lead on offense by senior forward Jill Camburn, who has seven goals and three assists for 17 points. Providence has a rotation amongst their three goaltenders, but junior goalkeeper Jill Schott has played the most, posting a 0.91 goals against average, a 2-3-2 record, and 3 shutouts.

Notre Dame hosts UConn Friday at 7:30 p.m. before taking on Providence Sunday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Field.