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Women’s Soccer: Notre Dame to host Georgetown at home

By Jack Hefferon and Megan Golden | Thursday, October 13, 2011

After an uncharacteristic rough patch at the beginning of the season, Notre Dame appears to have settled back into championship form. Since their loss to Louisville on Sept. 16, the Irish have not allowed a goal and have gone 3-0-1 during a key Big East stretch. With just three regular season games left to play, the Irish (7-5-3, 4-2-2 Big East) face a critical conference test when they host Georgetown on Friday.

In that early part of the season, the Irish found themselves dominating almost all of the games they played in both flow of play and nearly every statistical category. However, momentary lapses and a couple of defensive breakdowns cost them both points and results. Over the past four matches, the team has locked down its back line, a positive that has Irish coach Randy Waldrum feeling much better about his team.

“We haven’t given away silly goals like we had been earlier in the year,” he said. “You have a chance to win games as long as you keep the opponent from scoring, so I am happy with the shutouts. More important is we haven’t given away silly mistakes, and that’s what has boosted their confidence.”

The team has indeed been able to cut down on its opponents’ chances despite playing with a significantly shuffled lineup. Due to a number of injuries to the team’s veterans and leaders, Waldrum has been forced to play some less experienced freshmen, like defenders Sammy Scofield and Taylor Schneider, in key positions.

For now though, it seems the young players have begun to step into their roles.

“You don’t want too many mistakes by inexperienced players,” Waldrum said. “Our young kids have played well for us by now. We’re 15 games into the season, though, so they are not that new.”

Those freshmen will be called upon, as will the entire team, as Notre Dame takes on Georgetown (11-5-0, 5-3-0), an explosive squad that has scored nine goals in its past three games. The visitors will be led by senior midfielder Ingrid Wells, who leads the Hoyas with eight assists and 16 points.

Once a recruiting target for Waldrum, the Irish coach will now be charged with stopping Wells from jumpstarting the potent Hoya attack.

“They have [Wells], who we tried to recruit at Notre Dame, and she’s one of the best midfielders in the country, not to mention the conference,” Waldrum said. “[The Hoyas are] very similar to us in many ways. They don’t play the same system, but they have a lot of technical and skillful players like we do. The key is to try and minimize turnovers, and that will fall on our midfield. Our midfield will have to be very organized.”

In a game between such closely matched teams, the deciding factor may be Notre Dame’s “twelfth man.”

“We just kind of plead to [the local fan base] because of the students being gone. We’re at a critical stretch,” Waldrum said. “We certainly want to appeal to them to come out and support us. I don’t know if the local fan base knows this, but these stats are kept for nationwide attendance, and right now we’re 6th. With [the students] being gone this weekend, we are going to need everyone to come out and support us.”

The Irish and Hoyas will take the pitch Friday at Alumni Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu and Megan Golden at mgolde01@saintmarys.edu