ND Women’s Soccer
Squad readies for Virginia Tech
Renee Griffin | Friday, October 30, 2015
No. 14 Notre Dame will face its final test of the regular season when No. 5 Virginia Tech visits Alumni Stadium on Friday.
The ACC showdown has the potential to substantially affect the seeding of both teams in the NCAA tournament, which begins Nov. 13 following the conclusion of the conference tourney next weekend.
“[A win] would obviously be a nice end to the regular season,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “We’ve had some great tests: Duke, North Carolina [and] Virginia Tech — those are all phenomenal games to end the regular season and prepare us for whatever we might face in the postseason.”
The Irish (12-4-1, 5-4-0 ACC) have won four of their last five games, with a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of No. 8 North Carolina coming as the lone loss.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech (14-2-1, 6-2-1 ACC) is coming off a win against Pittsburgh. Its season highlights include an Oct. 22 tie against No. 3 Florida State and an Aug. 23 win against No. 2 West Virginia, but the Hokies also have losses to the Tar Heels and No. 7 Clemson.
With the Hokies ranking 12th in the nation in scoring, Romagnolo said countering their offensive aggression will be a key to the game.
“They’re a good attacking team: big, strong and physical, and very opportunistic in the goals that they score,” she said. “We need to make sure that we take care of the ball and defend well like we have been.”
However, Romagnolo said this year she’s been pleased with Notre Dame’s defense, led by seniors Katie Naughton and Cari Roccaro, and is confident the team can make it tough for even elite attackers to find the back of the net.
“We match up well against everyone, to be honest,” Romagnolo said. “We’re a great defensive team, not just the back four. We’ve limited all our opponents’ chances.”
The matchup is likely to be the last time on the Alumni Stadium pitch for the Irish seniors, including Naughton, Roccaro, forward Anna Maria Gilbertson, midfielder Glory Williams, defender Brittany Von Rueden and forward Mary Schwappach.
“This is a game that’s just as important as every other game. Yes, it’s Senior Day and we want to put forth a good performance, but we want to play well for ourselves and to help with seeding heading into the NCAA tournament,” Romagnolo said.
Notre Dame will have to stick to their strengths in order to upset the Hokies, Romagnolo said.
“We need to play our game: get the ball and move it, create opportunities on attack,” she said. “Defensively, we need to put pressure on them and make them uncomfortable on the ball. The big, strong, physical team that they are, they like to do set pieces, so that’s something we’ll be looking out for and trying to defend.”
Romagnolo said the task of containing and outshooting Virginia Tech will be a team effort.
“When you have a team like this, we have so many outstanding individuals,” Romagnolo said. “We’ve seen different people step up and we’ve seen the whole team step up, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Notre Dame’s final regular season game against Virginia Tech will begin Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.