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ND Women’s Soccer

Griffin: ND will be hard to stop if it plays up to potential

| Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No. 18 Notre Dame kicks off a tough ACC schedule this week, but a balanced approach and a solid mix of veterans and new faces on the Irish squad give them the potential to be competitive against any top team.

The Irish (5-2-1) don’t quite match the defensive strength and consistency of a team like No. 4 Stanford, which has not allowed a goal this season. Yet, Notre Dame was able to tie the Cardinal, 0-0, in a game in Palo Alto, California a week and a half ago.

They also can’t rival the offensive power of No. 2 Virginia Tech, an ACC opponent that Notre Dame plays Sept. 25. The undefeated Hokies have scored an average of four goals per game through nine contests. However, Virginia Tech has been challenged by only one top-25 opponent, Georgetown, which has since fallen out of the rankings, while the Irish have faced five ranked squads.

In eight games, Notre Dame has outscored opponents 13-6. Though not as dominating as Stanford’s 7-0 or Virginia Tech’s incredible 36-3, it was enough to get the Irish some confidence-boosting results against Stanford, then-No.16 Santa Clara and No. 22 Illinois.

A combination of focus and continual improvement on defense, as well as a team effort on offense, has led the Irish to a promising start. The team’s only two losses, to No. 6 Texas Tech and No. 14 USC, came after Notre Dame surrendered two goals in the second half to lose a 1-0 lead.

Irish freshman defender/midfielder Sabrina Flores surveys the pitch   during Notre Dame’s 1-0 defeat of Baylor at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 12.Wei Lin| The Observer

Irish freshman defender/midfielder Sabrina Flores surveys the pitch during Notre Dame’s 1-0 defeat of Baylor at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 12.

Since then, the team has played hard for the full 90 minutes of each game. If they can continue to do this, the Irish will be tough to beat. Depth has also been, and will likely continue to be, a crucial component in Notre Dame’s success. Irish coach Theresa Romagnolo repeatedly has emphasized an expectation that anyone on the team, whether starter or player off the bench, could step up on any given day.

Senior forward Lauren Bohaboy dominated in August, scoring all three of her goals in the first four games of the season. Recently, though, sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews has led the offensive effort, scoring two of her three goals on the year in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Toledo to tie her with Bohaboy and junior defender Katie Naughton for the team lead in goals. Andrews also has three assists on the year.

Three of the next four on the top-scoring list are freshmen, with forward Kaitlin Klawunder, midfielder Taylor Klawunder and forward Karin Muya all tied with junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson at one goal. This range of experience levels illustrates the depth of the team and Notre Dame’s ability to utilize the whole roster to score points.

If the Irish can continue to get significant contributions from prominent veterans and the freshman class, they should be a formidable opponent for any of the ten ACC teams they’ll face in coming weeks.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Renee Griffin

Notre Dame senior, formerly of Farley Hall. Originally from Lake Zurich, IL, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Enjoys talkin' about practice.

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