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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame readies for No. 1 Cavaliers

| Thursday, September 24, 2015

Facing the number one team in the country is a challenge no matter the circumstances. Facing the top team in the country on the road five days after losing your first game of the season in double overtime a week before is another story.

That is the task ahead of the Irish as they face No. 1 Virginia on Thursday in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though No. 16 Notre Dame (7-1-1, 0-1-0 ACC) lost a heartbreaker against Clemson on Saturday, Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said the team is staying positive and is excited to move into a high-powered stretch of its schedule.

“I think we’re excited for the weekend,” Romagnolo said. “I mean we play number one [Virginia on Thursday] and two [Florida State on Sunday] in the country. I think we think we’re right there with everybody. We’ve only lost one game. 7-1-1 is a great record. There’s a lot to feel confident about.”

Irish sophomore defender Monica Flores makes a pass during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium.  Flores finished the game with one shot on goal.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore defender Monica Flores makes a pass during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium. Flores finished the game with one shot on goal.

To knock off the Cavaliers, Romagnolo said the whole team needs to show up and perform.

“It’s going to take a team effort,” Romagnolo said. “When you’re playing other top-10 teams like ourselves, you need the team to play well. Obviously someone needs to put it in the back of the net, somebody needs to step up sometimes and make that special play. But as a team in these types of games, you have to defend well as a team and keep the ball as a team, you have to attack as a team. It’s the team mentality to go out there with kind of a chip on our shoulder saying we’ve got something to prove this weekend.”

More specifically, Romagnolo said the game plan starts with the defense and the need to keep an organized shape against a possession-oriented team.

“I think that Virginia is a team that possesses the ball really well,” Romagnolo said. “We want to make sure we defend well, we’re organized, we keep play in front of us.”

Once the Irish get the ball, Romagnolo said the key will be to have an aggressive mindset, while at the same time playing within themselves.

“When we win [the ball, we want] a patience to our attack, but also an attacking mentality,” Romagnolo said. “So that we get out in numbers together and we read where the space is and we attack space. We have to be dangerous in our attack.”

Irish freshman forward Natalie Jacobs dribbles past a defender during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish freshman forward Natalie Jacobs dribbles past a defender
during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28.

The Notre Dame offense has certainly been dangerous thus far this season. The Irish are averaging 2.33 goals per game, and even though they were held scoreless against Clemson, they outshot the Tigers, 15-13, and Romagnolo said keeping up that shooting streak is important.

“Soccer’s a funny game,” Romagnolo said. “You can outshoot an opponent and lose and vice versa. At the end of the day, I think we created enough chances to win that game. We always want to see even more quality chances, and I think that’s something playing opponents like Virginia and Florida State, you might only have six shots in a game like that. It’s not about how many shots, it’s about creating quality opportunities and finishing up on the opportunities that we do have.”

While some teams may balk at the pressure of playing the top two teams in the country back-to-back, Romagnolo said the Irish are excited to test themselves against the best.

“[The team] is excited to prove something,” Romagnolo said. “We’re excited about what we can do in the ACC. These are great games to have this early in the season to be able to measure ourselves and see what things we’re going well and what things we need to continue to improve on ourselves so that we can make a great run as the season goes along.”

The Irish take on the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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