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Irish face North Texas to start 8-game homestand

Andy Troeger | Friday, September 26, 2003

Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team will begin an eight game homestand Sunday as they host North Texas at Alumni Field.

It will be the first time the Irish have played the Mean Green, who come in at 6-2, having won three consecutive games over Texas Tech, Drury and Nicholls State by a combined score of 13-1.

The Irish, who do not travel again until a trip to Pittsburgh Oct. 19, will be looking to remain undefeated and continue working their way toward the Big East season, which starts next week.

One somewhat overlooked reason for the strong Irish play thus far has been the defense. Last week, freshman Christie Shaner became the latest Irish player to take home awards, becoming the Big East Rookie of the Week and making the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week. Senior Vanessa Pruzinsky was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after the Notre Dame Classic, while Melissa Tancredi, Kim Lorenzen and Lizzie Reed have all played important roles as well.

The Irish defense will look to contain a North Texas attack that has been on a roll in its last two games. Mean Green forward Melinda Pina, the Sun Belt Player of the Week, leads the nation with 27 points, including 12 goals so far this season. She collected hat tricks in her last two games, scoring six goals and adding three assists for 15 points.

“I think the key to our success against North Texas is playing good team defense,” midfielder Kim Carpenter said. “When we are all on the same page and connected defensively, the rest always seems to fall into place.”

One concern for the Irish is maintaining focus after a week off and coming off of two of their biggest games of the season.

“You have to be a little concerned about the mindset of the team after coming off of two big games like Santa Clara and Stanford,” Carpenter said. “Games like those are highly anticipated and get so much publicity that you just hope that the team hasn’t gotten so caught up in the results of the weekend that they overlook what lies ahead of us.”

So far this year, the mindset for the team has not been a problem. Irish coach Randy Waldrum said before the trip to Santa Clara that his team had been able to prepare well for each individual game, and the team will look to continue that trend.

“Each game should be played like it’s the national championship game,” Carpenter said. “We’ve taken that attitude in all our games thus far, so hopefully it will carry over throughout the rest.”

Notes:The Irish rank ninth in the nation in goals scored per game with 3.62, while standing 16th in the nation and first in the Big East by only giving up 0.49 goals per game.

Notre Dame is one of only 10 undefeated teams. Five of those teams (North Carolina, Florida, Boston College, Cal Poly and Oklahoma State) have not tied a game. The other five, including Notre Dame, have at least one tie.