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ND Women’s Soccer: Waldrum prepares team for Duke duel

Greg Hadley | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

After No. 13 Notre Dame had its worst road trip of the season last weekend, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he was glad to be back in the friendly confines of Alumni Stadium to face Duke on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s great to be home and have a week to rest and prepare,” Waldrum said. “It’s always tough to be on the road, especially with how the ACC is structured. We’re usually on the road for five days at a time, which is a long time to be in a hotel, living out of suitcase and travelling.”

The road has been particularly rough lately for the Irish (9-4-1, 5-3-1 ACC). In the past two weeks, Notre Dame has lost three ACC road games, including one in double overtime to No. 1 Virginia on Oct. 10. Despite this, the Irish have not changed their goal of another College Cup and are simply focusing on taking care of business at home, Waldrum said.

“We didn’t have much training time over the weekend, so to have this week, where we can have three good days of training to correct some things, is very good,” Waldrum said. “You just need to keep plugging away. We knew coming in that we were going to lose games. We just need to keep a positive attitude and keep everyone focused on what we’re looking for, which is to get back to the College Cup.”

To get back on track, the Irish will have to go through the Blue Devils (5-6-3, 2-4-2), who started the year strong but hit a rough patch midway through September when they went on a six-game winless streak. Recently though, Duke has righted the ship, as it defeated Maryland, 2-1, on Sunday in the first game of its three-game road trip.

“Duke is loaded with talent,” Waldrum said. “They’ve been struggling a bit with injuries early in the year, but they are absolutely loaded. I’ve coached some of their players on the [United States] under-23 national team. They have [junior forward] Kelly Cobb, who was part of the team that won the under-20 World Cup, and she’s a handful. I could go on, but overall, Duke has a lot of offensive weapons. We have to be very careful and strong defensively because they have as good an offensive side as any [team] in the conference.”

Defense has been an area of concern the Irish must improve in, Waldrum said. During their three-game slide, the Irish allowed six goals in three games, after surrendering just two in their previous seven matches.

In an attempt to strengthen the team’s back line, Waldrum moved sophomore Cari Roccaro from her usual spot in the midfield to right back during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to then-No. 10 Virginia Tech on Sunday. Roccaro, however, has also been an offensive sparkplug for the Irish at the forward position, recording four goals and two assists on the season.                                 

Waldrum said he was still unsure of how he planned to use Roccaro against Duke and in the future.

“We really don’t want to keep moving [Roccaro] all over the field,” Waldrum said. “It just felt like we had to when we got to Virginia Tech over the weekend in order to plug some of the leaks we had back there. We’ll look at the next three days of training and see where she’s most comfortable and who’s most comfortable around her, and I’ll have a better sense at the end of the week.”

The Irish look to return to form this Sunday at 1 p.m. when they play Duke at Alumni Stadium.    

 Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu