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ND Women’s Soccer

Big Ten foes on tap for Notre Dame over weekend

| Friday, September 11, 2015

The No. 13 Irish aim to continue their undefeated streak to open the season as they play host to Big Ten foes Indiana and Michigan this weekend at Alumni Stadium.

Despite a dominant 2-0 win over Michigan State and a 2-2 draw with Western Michigan, Notre Dame (5-0-1) fell from No. 6 to No. 13 in the rankings.

Second-year coach Theresa Romangolo said the team was excited about the quality of this weekend’s opponents.

“They’re two good programs and whoever we play we have to continue to work on possessing the ball, attacking and shutting down opponents,” Romagnolo said.

Senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson fights for a loose ball in Notre  Dame’s 2-1 victory against Santa Clara on Aug. 28.Michael Yu | The Observer

Senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson fights for a loose ball in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory against Santa Clara on Aug. 28.

Looking to make an early statement at home, the Irish welcome two clubs with winning records. The Hoosiers (3-2-1) will be playing with a chip on their shoulder as they were embarrassed by LSU over the weekend, 4-0. The Irish’s second opponent will be dawning a familiar maize and blue when Michigan (4-2-0) comes to town. The Wolverines will be looking to right the ship after having its 3-game winning streak snapped Sunday on the road at Washington.

Both the Hoosiers and the Wolverines will have to deal with the Irish’s stifling defense. Romangolo’s club has outshot their opponents 144-9 in the early season. The Irish also hold a heavy 17-3 scoring advantage and have posted clean sheets against foes four times.

Romagnolo credited the entire team on the defensive success.

“The players in the front do a good job and every other layer is playing well,” Romagnolo said. “We’re doing a good job hunting and winning balls. It’s really a team effort. We can stop people one on one, or work together.”

Romangolo said her team needs to be cautious of getting too comfortable, however.

“It’s so early, but there’s a lot we can improve on,” Romagnolo said. “We need to continue to grow as a team. We need to keep working on creating opportunities in front of the goal. We could improve our one on one defense and reacting to the opposing team’s attack.”

Offensively, the team is led by a veteran and a newcomer. Senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson leads the team in goals (four), points (nine), shots (39), and shots on goal (16).  Gilbertson scored in each of the last three games. She has been helped by the arrival of freshman forward Natalie Jacobs. The California product leads the team in assists (four) and only trails Gilbertson in all major offensive categories.

Sunday poses a unique challenge, as Michigan sophomore forward Taylor Timko has been lighting up opposing defenses. The Michigan native and Big 10 all-freshman selection leads the Wolverines in goals (five). Her total ties her with a host of others for 15th in the nation — three back of the national leaders.

After spending last weekend in hostile environments, the Irish will be happy to play in the friendly confines of Alumni Stadium, Romagnolo said. The Irish are 4-0 at home and have surrendered only one goal in those games combined.

Romangolo said the team is excited to spend the weekend in South Bend.

“Anytime you can stay at your own house and sleep in your own bed, it’s an advantage,” she said.

Play begins Friday at 7 p.m. with the match against Indiana followed by Sunday’s game against Michigan at 5 p.m. Both matches will be played at Alumni Stadium.

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