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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish win easily in Big East openers

Allan Joseph | Monday, September 27, 2010

The Irish stayed unbeaten in Big East play after a dominating weekend in which the Irish easily handled two conference opponents in impressive fashion.

The Irish shut out Cincinnati 4-0 at home on Friday night and No. 24/18 Louisville on the road by a record-setting count of 5-0 Sunday afternoon.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum characterized this past weekend as a potentially season-defining one for his squad. If he is right, then there are great things in store for No. 5/9 Notre Dame (9-1, 3-0 Big East).

Friday’s game in Alumni Stadium was marked by offensive balance, as each goal was scored by a different player, including senior forward Rose Augustin’s team-leading fifth goal of the 2010 campaign, as well as the first career goals for freshman midfielder Mandy Laddish and freshman forward Adriana Leon. Senior defender Julie Schiedler scored the final goal, also her first of the season. The offensive explosion was accompanied by defensive dominance, as the Irish limited the Bearcats (6-3-1, 0-2 Big East) to six shots, and only two on goal.

Sunday’s matchup was of high importance in the Big East race, as the Cardinals were poised to be the biggest conference challenger to Notre Dame. The stakes were high, and Waldrum was sure to impress that on his squad.

“We told the players before the game to take it as a championship game, since the rest of the Big East has been beating up on itself,” he said.”

The Irish took Waldrum’s advice to heart, getting on the board within the first ten minutes.

The Irish were led by junior forward Melissa Henderson, who notched two goals and an assist, and in the process became the fifteenth Irish player to score 40 goals in her career.

Notre Dame again dominated the stat sheet, firing 16 shots on goal to the Cardinals’ three. When all was said and done, the Irish had completed the program’s largest-ever margin of victory when visiting a ranked team.

Waldrum credits his team’s offensive success to the increased distribution of attacking chances, as five different players netted their first goals of the season this weekend.

“We made it a point of emphasis to create more chances and be more efficient in the final third,” he said. “We got a couple other players to score goals, and that helped. You don’t want to rely on one or two people.”

Despite the offensive fireworks of the weekend, Waldrum gave credit to the shutdown defense of his back line for providing a balanced team effort.

“We got two shutouts this weekend — the defense has been great for us there,” he said. “We’ve got both sides of the ball working really well this weekend.”

Most impressive to the Irish coach, however, was the composure his team showed on a crucial midseason weekend.

“It was a key weekend,” Waldrum said. “Against a team that was full of confidence, the kids handled it tremendously. They were very, very composed.”

The Irish look to continue their NCAA-record 69-game conference unbeaten streak next weekend with two home games.