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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish chase Big East title

Jack Hefferon | Monday, September 17, 2012

In the past two seasons, Notre Dame has won a national championship, won 31 games, and been considered one of the elite teams in college soccer.

But there’s one thing the Irish haven’t done in those two campaigns: win a Big East championship.

From 1995 to 2009, Notre Dame (5-3-1, 2-0-0 Big East) claimed 11 of 15 conference titles, cementing their status as bullies of the Big East.

But the team came away empty-handed after losing 2-1 to Louisville in the semifinals last year, and lost a shocker to Connecticut in the 2010 quarterfinals before eventually winning the NCAA championship.

And while the conference tournament – win or lose – has been a stepping stone to national success for the squad, Irish coach Randy Waldrum is putting more emphasis on reasserting his team’s Big East presence – especially with Notre Dame set to leave the conference forever in the near future.

“It’s been a couple of years since we’ve … won [the Big East],” Waldrum said. “So we want to get back and kind of reestablish that dominance in the conference, especially before we leave in a couple of years, or whenever that’s going to be.”

The team took a decisive step in that direction this past weekend, navigating past a tricky slate of conference opponents. On Friday, the Irish beat Louisville 2-1, taking revenge on a Cardinal team that beat them in both the regular season and playoffs last year. They then followed that up by throttling Cincinnati 7-0 on Sunday.

Waldrum was pleased with his team charging out of the gates at the beginning of the conference schedule, especially in their win over Louisville, their toughest conference challenger.

“We talked about the importance of this start, especially with Louisville on Friday, which was a big game and a big win for us because they’ll be there battling for one of the top spots at the end,” Waldrum said.

Now, the Irish will look to build on that momentum, and hope to carry it straight through the regular season and into a conference championship. Notre Dame’s next Big East contest will be this Friday, when the team will host Pittsburgh under the lights at Alumni Stadium. That match will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu