ND Women’s Soccer: Big East play returns
By Matthew Robison | Friday, September 14, 2012
Notre Dame opens its Big East slate this weekend with two home matchups, facing Louisville on Friday and Cincinnati on Sunday.
Last weekend, the Irish (3-3-1) came away with a 1-1 tie in double overtime with Portland and a 3-0 loss to Washington on their West-Coast swing.
“We played really well on Friday night against Portland,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “So that result was a tie on the road in front of a really hostile crowd of 5,000 people and 2,000 students yelling and screaming at you. I thought the kids did really well on Friday. On Sunday we turned around and did just what we did against [North] Carolina [on Sept. 2, when the Irish lost 1-0]. We came out really, really flat and just didn’t have the intensity or the energy level that we needed to perform.”
The “baby Irish,” as Waldrum has nicknamed this team, took some valuable lessons away from last weekend. In preparation during the week, Waldrum pointed out two keys. The first was another week of training and improvement. The other was returning two players.
“This week we’ve had a lot of discussion, a lot of video, talks about how to put back-to-back games together,” Waldrum said. “I think part of it’s youth. I think part of it’s inexperience. I think part of it’s not having enough leadership on the field pulling us out when things aren’t going well.”
After winning the gold medal for the U.S. at the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, freshman midfielder Cari Roccaro and junior midfielder Mandy Laddish finally return to the pitch for the Irish.
“I think hopefully just continuing to work on that in training is one [key], and talking about it with the players and trying to get them mentally prepared,” Waldrum said. “But I think also having Mandy and Cari back this week, I’m hoping, will really help us in that area.”
Laddish started all 21 games for the Irish last season, scoring one goal and notching seven assists.
“Mandy’s one of our captains and one of our older players,” Waldrum said. “I think she’s really going to help sure up the midfield.”
Roccaro comes in as a highly-touted recruit and an experienced international player. She started five games during the U-20 World Cup and scored one goal.
“With Cari, we’re a little bit undecided with where we’re going to play her,” Waldrum said. “But she’s certainly going to be in our [starting] 11. She’s one of the top recruits coming out this year. Wherever we put her she’s certainly going to impact our team.”
The Irish (3-3-1) have extra motivation going into Friday’s game, which will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Last year, Louisville (5-1) beat Notre Dame, 1-0, during the regular season and then again in the Big East semifinals, 2-1. The Cardinals should be among Notre Dame’s toughest conference competition this season, Waldrum said.
“I think Friday’s a really big game for us because Louisville beat us for the first time ever last year, but they beat us twice,” Waldrum said. “It’s a program that’s grown and gotten better. Having beat us twice last year, they should come in here very confident.”
The Irish will get a slightly different look from the Cardinals than they have seen this year. Louisville is a strong defensive team that has only allowed five goals this season.
“We’re going to have to show some patience,” Waldrum said. “Our speed of play is going to have to be up-tempo to expose them in some ways so they can’t get so organized”