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ND Women’s Soccer: Scofield becoming a fixture on defense

By Jack Hefferon | Thursday, September 27, 2012

The “sophomore slump” is a common phenomenon in sports when breakout rookie athletes regress back to average play. But after leading all Irish freshmen in playing time last year, sophomore center back Sammy Scofield has only improved upon her solid play from last year and has become a force on the Irish back line.

Last season, Scofield was a fixture in the Irish lineup and appeared in all 21 matches, although she usually came off the bench and played in the midfield. As Irish coach Randy Waldrum saw more of Scofield’s play, the rookie found a regular spot in the starting lineup as the year progressed, playing every minute of Notre Dame’s abbreviated stay at the NCAA Tournament.

Waldrum was so impressed he invited Scofield to play with the U-23 National Team in January, an experience Scofield said was a competitive learning experience.

“It was an honor to be recognized for that,” Scofield said. “I really appreciate Randy seeing me and putting me into such a highly talented environment. It was a really good experience for me. It’s good to play outside of your comfort zone. So yeah, it was a great honor to be invited.”

Playing outside her comfort zone over the summer has helped Scofield elevate her game this year. After failing to score in a full season at midfield last year, she already has two clutch goals early on this year from her spot on the defense. Within the past month, her headed goal brought the Irish (7-3-1, 3-0 Big East) back to level in a 1-1 draw at then-No. 18 Portland, and she scored the game-winner – another flying header – in a 2-1 win over then-No. 16 Santa Clara.

As for her improvement, Scofield said she believes having a year of experience already under her belt has allowed her to excel this season.

“I think I’ve got more confidence this year,” she said. “Last year, it was hard to come in and be a freshman and just put yourself out there. I’m more confident and more comfortable with the things we’re doing this year.”

Scofield has also made a seamless transition to the Irish defense, helping to lock down what has been a young but strong unit for Waldrum this year. The position switch has yet to make her noticeably uncomfortable, as she enjoys being in the center of the action.

“I like playing center back,” Scofield said. “There’s definitely more action in the midfield than there is in back. I’d say I just like being in the middle.”

That comfort and control as the last line of defense has allowed Scofield to take charge of the Irish defense, where Waldrum usually starts four underclassmen.

“There are a lot of freshmen, so we have to lead them,” Scofield said. “Also there aren’t that many upperclassmen so us younger kids have to step up and take more of a role of leadership, probably more so this year than last year.”

Scofield will try to continue leading Notre Dame through its conference schedule this weekend, as the Irish will take their perfect Big East record to New England for matchups at Providence and Connecticut.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu