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ND Women’s Soccer: Squad nabs regular season conference championship

Douglas Farmer | Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Notre Dame (14-3, 11-0-1 Big East) ended the regular season on a 12-game unbeaten streak and a six-game winning streak to claim its 12th conference title in its 15 seasons in the league.

“[Winning the Big East title] is hard to put into words because we always talk about the standard that this program has set for itself,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “It is something we don’t take for granted by any means, but it is certainly one of the goals we have every year.”

The No. 6 Irish hosted and beat four conference foes over the past two weekends by a combined score of 12-1. First Notre Dame topped Connecticut 6-1 and then Providence 2-0 last weekend. Then the Irish beat Villanova and No. 22 Georgetown, each 2-0, this past weekend.

“[The successful home stand] was fantastic just from a standpoint that it allowed to wrap up the conference championship which is always one of the things we want to achieve,” Waldrum said. “More important than anything is the fact that we started playing better in the last month of the season. We are coming together at the right time of the year.”

Junior forward Taylor Knaack scored four goals in the four games, including two goals along with an assist against Connecticut.

“[Taylor] has been huge for us in the last four games in particular but it goes back a little earlier than that,” Waldrum said. “She got the game-winner on the road at West Virginia, and since then she has really started to gain some confidence in her goal scoring. She could not have picked a better time to get hot.”

Junior forwards Rose Augustin and Erica Iantorno joined Knaack in scoring two goals apiece against Connecticut. Iantorno also scored against Villanova.

Junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss may have appreciated the offensive outburst, but did not necessarily need it, as she closed the conference season with a conference record average of 0.15 goals against in nearly 600 minutes of game time.

“[Nikki] continues to do very well,” Waldrum said. “We’ve got a player who is playing really consistently and is hot right now. That is a position where they really need a lot of confidence what they are doing and Nikki has that right now.”

Weiss’ shutout of Villanova was her fifth solo shutout of the season, all in the previous six games. She split time with senior Kelsey Lysander against Georgetown on the Irish Senior Night.

Alumni Stadium bid farewell to the most accomplished senior class in program history.
“[Senior night] is hard every year because you get attached to that class and it is hard to see them go,” Waldrum said. “This senior class in particular has been to three Final Fours, and we hope to get back there for a fourth time for them.”

The festivities honored all of the seniors, and the night was highlighted when Waldrum substituted senior Micaela Alvarez for sophomore forward Melissa Henderson with only a few minutes left in the game. Earlier in the week Alvarez suffered a season-ending knee injury, and without crutches, could only stand in place on the field.