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ND Women’s Soccer: Squad compete for Big East title

Observer Staff Report | Friday, November 2, 2012

After a full season of trying to help his young team mature and perform on a championship level, Irish coach Randy Waldrum and No. 20 Notre Dame have finally arrived on that stage, as they’ll look to take home the Big East Championship in East Hartford, Conn., this weekend.

The Irish (13-4-2, 8-1-1 Big East) certainly didn’t look like a favorite to win the conference back in August and September, when they struggled to a 3-3-1 start in their first seven games. After that stretch though the young team began to grow up, which was helped by regaining the likes of junior midfielder Mandy Laddish and freshman midfielder Cari Roccaro from national team duty. Since then, the Irish haven’t looked back, and have posted a 10-1-1 record, with their latest victory coming over Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals last weekend.

In that game, it was Roccaro’s late winner – off a pass from Laddish – that sent the Irish through to their 16th conference semifinal in their 18 years as members of the Big East. That era will soon come to a close though, as Notre Dame will join the Atlantic Coast Conference. With that in mind, Waldrum and the Irish have put the emphasis on closing out their stay in the Big East in style, namely with a championship trophy this weekend.

Their first obstacle on that path will be No. 10 Marquette, whom the Irish will face on Friday. The Golden Eagles (14-2-2, 9-0-1) have rolled through the Big East thus far, with all nine of their conference wins coming by at least two goals – a trend they continued in a 4-1 thrashing of Connecticut in the quarterfinals last weekend.

Both teams have had to deal with more than just their competition in their preparation for the game this week, as Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc on the East Coast. Both Notre Dame and Marquette had to work around flight delays and cancellations, and the storm forced the tournament to make a last-minute move from UConn’s campus in Storrs to the Huskies’ football stadium in East Hartford.

Whoever can survive the semifinal will move on to face the winner of the other semifinal, which pits South Florida against No. 13 Georgetown.

The Irish and Golden Eagles will fight for that spot on Friday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, where the game will  begin at noon.