ND Women’s Soccer: Busted Streak
Allan Joseph | Monday, November 1, 2010
In a sunny but cold Alumni Stadium, No. 3/5 Notre Dame’s historic run of Big East dominance came to a startling halt in a 2-0 loss to Connecticut in the Big East quarterfinals.
The Irish (15-3-2, 9-1-2 Big East) lost a conference game for the first time in 78 games, and snapped a 99-game home conference winning streak as well. The Huskies (10-8-3, 5-5-2) were the last Big East team to defeat Notre Dame in South Bend, a full 15 years ago in October 1995.
“We never really thought about the streak and it’s not something we ever really talk about,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “You hate to lose it, it’s nice having it, but it’s not something we address.”
Connecticut senior midfielder Elise Fugowski scored both goals for the visitors, notching her first 60 minutes into the match and then doubling her tally on a Notre Dame miscue in its own box less than 15 minutes later.
Fugowski caused problems for the Irish all game, creating several chances in the first half.
“We talked about her at halftime because she’s the one player on their team, every time we play Connecticut, that can hurt you,” Waldrum said. “You can’t give good players like that time and space.”
The Huskies controlled the run of play for most of the first half, threatening early on a shot that curled past senior Irish goalkeeper Nikki Weiss but bounced harmlessly off the left post. Notre Dame’s first-half attacks were sporadic and poorly supported, but the Irish were able to enter the locker room at halftime tied 0-0.
Though the Notre Dame attack improved in the second half, star junior forward Melissa Henderson was unable to get a shot on goal all game, which was indicative of the impotence of the Irish front line.
“It’s on Melissa. That’s all on her just like it is on [freshman forward] Adriana Leon and [senior forward] Rose Augustin,” Waldrum said. “Those kids have to create more, and they didn’t, so that’s on them.”
Waldrum was particularly concerned about a sense of complacency that seemed to have struck his squad.
“[Connecticut] looked like a team that came out wanting to play in a playoff game and it looked like a Notre Dame team that was just going through the motions,” he said. “It wasn’t anything tactically. It was just a mentality of a team that came out ready to compete from the opening whistle versus a team that didn’t.”
In the end, however, an uncharacteristically upset Waldrum placed the blame on his own shoulders.
“There’s no real positives to take from today, because I’m really disappointed in the way we turned out,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s on me. The only positive that I can really take from today is that we’re still going to play because we’re going to be in the NCAAs.”
Though the Irish will, for the first time since the conference tournament took its current form in 1999, watch the semifinals from home, Waldrum said they would take some time preparing for the NCAA tournament. They will wait anxiously to see if they finish in the top 16 of the RPI when the seedings are released in a week, resulting in the ability to host three rounds of the tournament.
“[The] concern is just being ready for the NCAAs now,” Waldrum said. “We can’t have this kind of a performance. We don’t play again the next loss we have — we’re done.”
In the end, Notre Dame was left pondering the unfamiliar feeling of losing and finding no one to blame but itself.
“They were clearly much better,” Waldrum said. “This time of year, you can’t play that way.”