ND Women’s Soccer: Tourney Time
Douglas Farmer | Monday, November 9, 2009
Not only did No. 4 Notre Dame won its 11th Big East Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Marquette Sunday, but the Irish also made a strong statement to the NCAA about where they deserve to be seeded in the NCAA Tournament beginning Friday.
“Even more than winning the tournament and that championship, the focus was winning it so we could get ourselves in position to get the highest seed possible in the NCAA Tournament,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “Now we’ll wait to see what the NCAA committee does tomorrow night on the selection.”
The Irish (17-3-1, 10-0-1 Big East) beat St. John’s 2-1 with a golden goal in overtime Friday.
Sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller headed in a corner kick from junior forward Rose Augustin for the game winner. Schuveiller has scored three goals in her two years with the Irish — all three have been the game winners, including last year’s NCAA Quarterfinal game.
“You want players that when things get tight are willing to take some chances, and [Schuveiller] is one of those kids,” Waldrum said. “She is just one of those players with that DNA. She is made that way.”
Schuveiller’s goal was set up by junior midfielder Lauren Fowlkes’ who had a first half goal off of Augustin’s first assist for the day. Junior goaltender Nikki Weiss allowed one goal in the game, while the Red Storm (13-6-1, 6-4-1) attempted only five shots.
Notre Dame then faced Marquette (15-5-2, 7-2-2) with a championship on the line. Waldrum said the Golden Eagles presented one of Notre Dame’s tougher challenges in the conference.
Notre Dame struck first and last in the game, as senior midfielder Amanda Clark gave the Irish a 1-0 lead in the first half, and junior forward Erica Iantorno scored the game winner with 20 minutes left.
“The games are going to be close from here on out. … You have to learn to win the close ones,” Waldrum said. “We’ve had to win close games most of the year. I think that has really prepared us for this time, for the Big East tournament, and for the NCAAs.”
Waldrum said a big part of winning close games at this time of year is solid goaltending, and despite her postseason inexperience, Weiss fulfilled the role this weekend.
“I was really pleased with Nikki,” he said. “I wasn’t happy about the goal she gave up against Marquette. But I think for the most part she handled the weekend every bit as much as she handled the last month of the season. She was very composed.”
The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPNEWS, and Waldrum was not shy about his hopes for the Irish.
“We’re hoping to slip into one of those top four seeds, which would mean we’d be at home all the way through to the Final Four,” he said. “I think it’ll be close. We could fit anywhere in that four, five, or six spot.”
Playing at home will be pivotal for the Irish he said, as fan support could prove to be a deciding factor in the postseason.
“This is the time we really need the fans to come out. We know we let the fans down early in the year with our performance against North Carolina, but this is a completely different team now. We have reeled off 15 games in a row, and this is the time of year we really need the students and fans to come out and support us.”
Lauren Fowlkes was named the Big East Tournament’s Most Oustanding Offensive Performer.
Jessica Schuveiller claimed Most Outstanding Defensive Performer honors.
Amanda Clark, Courtney Barg, Jessica Schuveiller, Lauren Fowlkes and Nikki Weiss were all named to the Big East All-Tournament Team.