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ND Women’s Soccer: ND to host Orange in tourney

Matthew Robison | Friday, October 26, 2012

After clinching a share of the Big East National Division regular-season title with a double-overtime 1-0 win over DePaul on Friday in Chicago, No. 24 Notre Dame will host Syracuse in the Big East tournament’s quarterfinal round.

The Irish (12-4-2, 8-1-1 Big East) had an impressive conference run, rattling off seven straight wins to start the Big East regular season. After a 2-2 double-overtime tie with Rutgers on Oct. 7 in Alumni Stadium and a 2-0 loss at Georgetown on Oct. 12, the Irish defeated Villanova, 1-0, before handling DePaul (9-9-2, 3-6-1).

Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he was pleasantly surprised by his young team’s solid performance during the regular season and said it is clicking at exactly the right time.

“I think going through with a young team, where we started, and going through the whole Big East pretty much undefeated with the one loss there at Georgetown, I think says a lot,” Waldrum said.

The tie with Rutgers and the one loss are the only non-wins on an otherwise shining conference record. Waldrum said he would have liked to see the Irish play better in those two matchups, but he is not upset with the overall outcome.

“I thought we were better than Rutgers when we tied,” Waldrum said. “I thought we didn’t play two good halves against Georgetown in the loss. So, you know, I would have liked to see us be a little bit better in that. If we look at the whole picture, I’m really pleased with the way we went through the Big East.”

After the regular season performance Notre Dame displayed over the last five weeks, Waldrum said his team is exactly where it needs to be heading into the postseason.

“I think right now the team’s been playing really well,” Waldrum said. “I think we’re heading into the Big East relatively healthy for this time of the year. I think the chemistry’s great. I think they kids are excited about playing.”

Notre Dame’s final conference standing granted it a home game for the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament as well as a much-needed break Friday.

“We don’t have a game [tonight],” Waldrum said. “That’s allowed us to have a couple days off in the week early to kind of help us rest and recover a little bit. I would expect us to be really good on Sunday.”

Although the Irish have not played the Orange (9-6-2, 6-3-1) this season, Waldrum said he knows what to expect out of Syracuse.

“They remind me a lot of in terms of how they play, their system very similar to Rutgers,” Waldrum said. “They’re playing out of a 4-4-3 [formation], very much like we are. I think they’re solid in pretty much every position.
“They’re one of those teams that, you know, when you look at them, you don’t really find a lot of weakness where you say, ‘We can exploit this player.’ They’re solid throughout their roster.”

Waldrum and Syracuse coach Phil Wheddon have a history together, having coached together on the U-23 U.S. National Team, of which Waldrum is the head coach.

“I think he knows me and my style and the things I try to do well,” Waldrum said. “It should be a really good battle with the way the coaches are familiar with each other.”

Notre Dame worked hard to earn a home game for its quarterfinal game and is hoping for a good turnout for the students and the local community, Waldrum said.

“Playing at home, playing in front of your home fans, it’s huge,” Waldrum said. “You sleep in your own bed, you’re in your routine, and most importantly, you hope that you’re playing in front of a good home crowd. So I really, really hope the students will turn out for this first playoff game.”

The Irish face Syracuse at 1 p.m. in Alumni Stadium on Sunday in the Big East Quarterfinals.

Contact Matt Robison at mrobison@nd.edu