ND Women’s Soccer: Big East tournament begins with Huskies
Allan Joseph | Friday, October 29, 2010
Having run the Big East regular-season slate without suffering a single loss, No. 3 Notre Dame will host Connecticut Sunday in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.
The Irish (15-2-2, 9-0-2 Big East) had a bye into the quarterfinals, having earned the top seed in the tournament by virtue of their National Division title, while the Huskies (9-8-3, 4-5-2) defeated Louisville 3-0 Thursday night in the tournament’s first round.
The two schools last met on Oct. 15, when Notre Dame traveled to Storrs, Conn. and gave up a late goal on a free kick that allowed Connecticut to tie the match, which ended 1-1. A similar late breakdown in a recent game Georgetown had Irish coach Randy Waldrum concerned.
“That was really a lack of concentration,” he said. “We switched off instead of keeping the switch on for the last four minutes.”
Notre Dame struggled to convert attacks into shots on goal, something that Waldrum said the Irish cannot repeat if they are to advance in the tournament.
“We just didn’t score enough goals with the chances we created,” he said. “I don’t think we really tested their goalkeeper enough.”
Husky senior midfielder Elise Fugowski will again be the primary challenge for the Irish, as she created a number of problems for Notre Dame in the teams’ last meeting.
“[She] really created some problems running the ball out of midfield into the attack,” Waldrum said. “We’re going to have to do a much better job of handling her.”
Because the Irish did not know who they were going to face until Thursday evening, they spent the week working on their own strengths and weaknesses rather than on the specific tactical challenges Louisville or Connecticut would have posed.
“I really take the approach of coaching and worrying about our team instead of worrying about the other team,” Waldrum said. “We just really focus on being better at different phases of our game and not really worrying about who you’re playing.”
The privilege of hosting the game may be a crucial advantage due simply to the comfort Notre Dame has not only in Alumni Stadium but around campus as well.
“I’ve always said you want to be at home come playoff time,” Waldrum said. “It keeps your kids in the routine. It’s nice to be home and players can sleep in their own bed.”
Waldrum also said he was looking for a large contingent of fan support on Sunday despite what may be adverse conditions. He had previously expressed concerns about attendance at Alumni Stadium, especially by students.
“The fans certainly are a plus. I know I’ve been concerned about the turnout of the students and such,” he said. “I hope we have [a good turnout] again, because that can be a huge help.”
Notre Dame hosts Connecticut at 1 p.m. Sunday in Alumni Stadium.