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ND Women’s Soccer: Sustaining the spark

| Friday, August 30, 2013

 

Seventh-ranked Notre Dame will look to sustain its red-hot offensive output when the Irish face off against Oakland and No. 4 UCLA at Alumni Stadium this weekend.

The matchups are part of the four-team Notre Dame Adidas Invitational, which also features No. 20 Marquette. The tournament will include four games, concluding with a top-10 showdown between the Irish (2-0-0) and Bruins (2-0-0) on Sunday afternoon.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum said the game against UCLA fits with his philosophy of scheduling tough non-conference opponents for his squad.

“Well, you have to play that kind of a team early because we want to know really quickly where we are,” he said of the Bruins. “Are we really [as] creative as we think offensively, or will that not be the case against UCLA? We want to find those teams that can really stretch us and exploit us where we’ve got to get better before we go into conference play, and UCLA is certainly good enough to do that.”

Waldrum is no stranger to several of the UCLA players, as he’s coached four of them in his role with the United States Under-23 National Team. Three of the players from that team, senior Jenna Richmond and juniors Sarah Killion and Samantha Mewis, play in the midfield, and the fourth team member, junior Abby Dahlkemper, anchors the Bruins defense.

Waldrum said he is looking forward to seeing how his team will fare against the Bruins midfield.

“I think the thing to watch that will be interesting for our fans is that matchup in the midfield because we’ll have [senior Mandy] Laddish, [sophomore Cari] Roccaro and [freshman] Morgan Andrews in the midfield,” Waldrum said. “That’s three really high-profile players on each team who are going to be dictating how the game goes.”

Although Sunday’s matchup holds much significance for the Irish, the team shouldn’t look past Friday night’s matchup with Oakland (1-1-0). The Grizzlies won the Summit League championship last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Oakland changed coaches and moved to the Horizon League in the off-season, but Waldrum said he expects the Grizzlies to be the same tough opponent that lost to the Irish 3-0 last September.

“We played [Oakland] last year as well, and it was fairly even for a while,” he said. “I think the thing you worry about with them is that they’re going to be a good enough team that if you’re not ready to play or looking forward to UCLA, they can get you in trouble.”

Oakland won its season opener 5-1 over Eastern Illinois but fell 6-1 to No. 14 Michigan on Sunday. The Grizzlies return seven starters from last year’s squad, including junior forward Kyla Kellermann, last season’s Summit League Offensive Player of the Year.

Notre Dame will look to keep up the torrid offensive output it showed in its first two regular-season contests, a 4-1 victory over Illinois on Aug. 23 and a 4-1 win over Northwestern on Sunday. Waldrum said the team’s success on offense is a result of off-season practices as well as improved effort from team members like junior forward Lauren Bohaboy, who has three goals on the season.

“By design, we spent a lot of time on [offense] this spring with the kids, but I think it’s a credit to some of those players,” Waldrum said. “I think what we found is that we’ve got kids like [junior midfielder] Karin Simonian and Lauren Bohaboy that were fit, had made some changes, and their mentality’s completely different. They deserve some of the credit of coming out themselves and recognizing what they needed to do to improve.”

Notre Dame will play Oakland tonight at 7:30 p.m. and face UCLA on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. In other tournament action, Marquette will play UCLA tonight at 5 p.m. and meet Oakland on Sunday at 11 a.m

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu