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ND Women’s Soccer: Team wins a pair to break streak

Brian Hartnett | Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The Irish weren’t about to make history for all the wrong reasons.

After Notre Dame (11-5-1, 7-4-1 ACC) tied the school record for consecutive losses with a 2-1 double-overtime defeat at the hands of Duke on Oct. 20, it rebounded with a 3-1 victory over Boston College on Thursday and a 2-0 win at Clemson on Sunday to clinch its berth in the upcoming ACC Championship.

The victory over the Eagles (9-8-1, 5-5-1) snapped Notre Dame’s four-game losing streak, which tied a University record first set in 1989.

“I think we just got caught in a couple of games where we had the mindset of seeing what Virginia or Virginia Tech or Duke was going to do to us,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We had a much more positive attitude [against Boston College] about starting the game quick and going back to realizing that we’re Notre Dame, and teams have to worry about us.”

Waldrum said Notre Dame’s success in its last two games partially resulted from improved play in the midfield.

“I thought our midfield, between [sophomore Cari] Roccaro, [senior Mandy] Laddish and [freshman] Morgan Andrews, was much better these last two games,” Waldrum said. “I think they sat too deep defensively, so we really worked on these last two weeks talking to them a lot and getting them pushed higher up the field to connect a little bit better with the front-runners.”

Equally important to Notre Dame’s rebound has been the recent contributions of its first-year players. Andrews had a goal and two assists to lead the Irish against Boston College (9-8-1, 5-5-1), and freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted put the team on the board with a goal in the eighth minute against Clemson (7-7-4, 4-6-2).

Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little recorded her first shutout since Sept. 29 against the Tigers, and freshman midfielder Rilka Noel added her first college goal in the loss to the Blue Devils (8-6-4, 5-4-3).

“It was great to see Rilka [Noel] get her first goal this year against Duke, and that was an important one for us at the time,” Waldrum said. “She has been getting a lot of time for us as a freshman this year, and we need her to continue to do that, especially in this run we’re getting ready to get on. We need her and [freshman midfielder] Cindy Pineda to give us even more than what we’re getting right now.”

At the same time, Notre Dame also celebrated the contributions of its four seniors – Laddish, midfielder Nicole Rodriguez, midfielder Elizabeth Tucker and forward Rebecca Twining – with a pregame ceremony before the game against Duke. Laddish compiled a goal and an assist against the Eagles in her final regular-season match at Alumni Stadium and also added an assist against Clemson.

Waldrum said the leadership of Notre Dame’s seniors, the only holdovers from the 2010 National Championship squad, would be critical in the team’s upcoming games.

“The experience [the seniors] have is going to be really important because we’re still really young,” he said. “If we’re going to get back to a Final Four, then they are going to have to be really willing to step up and lead us there because they’re the only ones who have done it before.”

Notre Dame clinched its berth in the eight-team ACC Championship with the victory over Clemson. The Irish, who currently sit fifth in the conference, will find out their seed after they close out the regular season with a trip to No. 3 Florida State on Thursday.

“We know we’re in; we’re solid in our position,” Waldrum said. “We’re just waiting until after Thursday’s game to see who we’re actually playing in the quarterfinals.

“The main thing is being concerned that we’re getting as good of a draw as we can in the NCAAs, and that’s why it was important to get those wins. Not that it’s not important for the conference – the conference is certainly important to us – but I think it’s more for the NCAAs.”

The Irish will close the conference season with a Halloween-night visit to Tallahassee, Fla. The game begins at the Seminole Soccer Complex at 8 p.m.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu