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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish take on Orange

Casey Karnes | Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No. 4 Notre Dame will look to secure its first home win in the ACC when Syracuse visits Alumni Stadium this Thursday.

The Irish (6-1, 2-0 ACC) are coming off a pair of wins over North Carolina State and then-No. 1 North Carolina in the road trip that opened their ACC schedule. Between the No. 5 Tar Heels and No. 6 UCLA, the Irish have split their two games against top-10 competition this season, but Irish coach Randy Waldrum believes the games affected more than just Notre Dame’s record.

“When you play those types of teams, it only helps prepare you for that next big game you have, so it certainly helped us from that standpoint,” Waldrum said. “We’re growing, and that’s the important thing, we’re just getting a little better and a little better.”

Syracuse (4-4, 0-2) has struggled thus far this season, also its first in the ACC. The Orange are familiar with the Irish from the teams’ time in the Big East, and last season Notre Dame barely pulled out a 1-0 victory in the Big East Quarterfinals. According to Waldrum, the Irish cannot afford to overlook this game even after their emotional victory at Chapel Hill.

“It’s real important this week that we don’t let [our win] linger, that we back it up Thursday night, or we’ve wasted a really good opportunity,” Waldrum said. “That’ll be kind of the focus of the week this week, to make sure we’re ready to put that game behind us and look into the next one. We’re used to getting everyone’s best shot, and I don’t think Thursday will be any different.”

The Irish defense will look to continue its stellar play in their first ACC home game. Behind freshman goaltender Kaela Little, who has a .857 save percentage with 24 total saves this year, and junior defender Sammy Scofield, the Irish have allowed only two goals in their last five games. Conversely, the Orange have been held scoreless in their past three games. Sophomore forward Erin Simon leads the Orange with four goals on the season. Despite Syracuse’s recent lack of scoring, Waldrum believes the Orange offense still poses a threat.

“I expect [Syracuse] to come in … fully loaded and ready to play,” Waldrum said. “I would honestly almost prefer teams coming in here coming off of wins, as opposed to coming off a loss. There’s … a desperation for those teams, when you’ve lost a couple games, you’ve got to really salvage your season, and what better way than to come in and pull an upset Thursday night. I think we have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us …. “

On the other side of the ball the Irish will face a tough challenge in Syracuse senior goaltender Brittany Anghel. Anghel has played every minute at goalie this year for the Orange, and has 21 saves. Challenging her will be the Irish offense led by freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews and junior forward Lauren Bohaboy. Andrews headed in Notre Dame’s lone goal against the Tar Heels, her fourth of the season, and Bohaboy leads the Irish with five goals. Sophomore forward Crystal Thomas also plays an integral role, chipping in a goal and a team-leading seven assists.

While the lone goal by Andrews was enough to best North Carolina, the Irish were outshot 18-5. Waldrum believes this ratio will need to improve if the Irish are going to continue their winning ways.

“We want to create more, that was the one disappointing part of the game Sunday, that we didn’t create more opportunities than we did,” Waldrum said. “Looking ahead to the rest of the ACC games, we have to be better offensively than we were on Sunday. But I do think we’re getting there and making some strides.”

Syracuse is no stranger to Alumni Stadium, but Thursday will be its first visit as a member of the ACC. Waldrum is hoping the home crowd is ready to welcome the Orange as loudly and rudely as possible.

“I hope the fans really come out, I know we’re going to try to white out the stadium,” Waldrum said. “I know there’s 750 free white t-shirts for the … fans who come in to try and help us try to white it out. I hope we can pack [the stadium], I would hope the students realize that we have one of the better teams in the country, and they’d want to come and see what it’s about.”

The Irish and the Orange will face off at 7 p.m. Thursday under the lights at whited-out Alumni Stadium.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu