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ND Women’s Soccer: ND takes two over weekend

Chris Masoud | Monday, September 6, 2010

Another two games, another two shutouts.

No. 3/4 Notre Dame took down West Coast power Santa Clara 1-0 Friday, before dismantling Texas Tech 2-0 Sunday to extend its winning streak to four games to open the season.

Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss and the Irish defense have yet to allow a goal in four contests, a trend Irish coach Randy Waldrum attributes to a strong work ethic in practice and natural talent between the pipes.

“It’s a pattern I’d like,” Waldrum said. “It’s great. The thing I’m still disappointed in is we’re still giving up too many shot opportunities. I don’t remember too many actual shots that troubled Nikki too much, and I think we minimized that. You’re going to win games if you keep doing that.”

Senior forward Rose Augustin played a critical role in both victories. The hard-hitting striker put the Irish (4-0) on the board in just the fourth minute, sending a laser from the top of the box that proved to be the difference against the No. 8/9 Broncos (3-1-1). Augustin would show off her leg the following match, launching a 35-yard strike to provide some insurance in Saturday’s victory.

“She’s one of the players that can smack the ball just like a guy,” Waldrum said. “When you look at it, the ball has a lot of movement. If you were to stand out there behind it and see it, the ball moves a lot.”

Heading into the season, Augustin was slated to return to her usual position of midfielder, where she has been a staple in the Irish lineup for the past two seasons. But after a number of injuries to key players in the lineup, Waldrum said he needed somebody who “could handle the ball and have some composure up there for us.”

The veteran has responded, resuming her duties as Waldrum’s No. 1 option to take free kicks, corners and set pieces, while excelling in her new role as a striker on the pitch. Augustin leads the Irish with four goals and has been an excellent compliment to junior forward Melissa Henderson.

“I work on it,” Augustin said. “When I was younger, I worked on just shooting and stuff, and I love shooting. The defense has been doing great. Nikki’s been playing excellent in the back, and all four defenders have been playing great. Without a goal scored on, it’s a big deal.”

Henderson provided Notre Dame’s first goal less than a minute before Augustin’s score against the Red Raiders (6-1), netting a 12-yard shot following a solid run. Heading into the final two games before Big East play begins, Waldrum is pleased with his team’s conditioning and the focus his players bring to every match.

“The intensity level was very high,” he said. “Overall, the team fitness is good. We didn’t go real, real deep tonight [Friday], that means a lot of players played 90 minutes or close to it. But I think that fitness level is coming along for most of them. I think we’re getting it to where we need to be, and that’s such a big key to come in ready to play fit.”