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Irish win big, lose key players

Andy Troeger | Tuesday, September 2, 2003

After struggling early in last year’s season, it was important for the women’s soccer team to get off to a good start this season.After the first weekend, it was obvious that the mission was accomplished.The Irish showed tremendous depth in blowing away Hartford 9-1 before coming back to corral Wake Forest 3-0.The Irish depth was obvious over the weekend, especially among the forwards. Junior Mary Boland scored four goals while adding an assist, while seniors Amy Warner and Amanda Guertin turned in their usually strong performances. Sophomore Maggie Manning added a pair of goals against Hartford, and sophomore Katie Thorlakson had an assist and played two solid games.”[Boland] had a great weekend,” said coach Randy Waldrum. “She and [Warner] never give the defense a chance to relax by creating a lot of pressure. Maggie Manning has really come on, too. It allows us to rotate and keep them fresh.”The first two games were especially encouraging because they marked a difference from the past two years, when the Irish struggled to build and hold leads.”We would get leads but did not have that killer instinct,” Waldrum said. “Next thing we knew, we were in a tie game. Against Hartford, we put the game away in the first half, and we could have done the same thing against Wake. Our intensity level was incredible; everyone played well.”The superb playing of goalkeeper Erika Bohn and the Irish defense were somewhat forgotten in the flurry of goals, though..”Erika made a huge save in the Wake Forest game when we were up 1-0,” said Waldrum. “Had they scored, who knows? Melissa Tancredi was incredible in the back, and freshmen Kim Lorenzen, Christie Shaner and Lizzie Reed all did very well defensively. Annie Schefter had to play back there some, too.”But it was not all good news this weekend for the Irish.After last season, the last word anyone associated with the women’s soccer team wanted to hear was “injury.” Unfortunately, the bug has already struck again this year, although the team seems better equipped to handle the losses.Two starters from last season are out for this season, with defender Candace Chapman lost to a torn ACL and midfielder Randi Scheller out after having surgery to correct a nagging hip problem. In addition to that, defender Gudrun Gunnarsdottir was lost to a broken arm against Wake Forest; it is not known how long she will be out of action. Fifth-year senior Vanessa Pruzinsky is still trying to return from her chronic injury, logging only 20 minutes against Wake Forest over the weekend.”The injuries are starting to mount up again,” Waldrum said. “It does cause you to start worrying some. This year we’re deep enough to overcome it.”Despite his concerns, Waldrum said he believes the attitude of this year’s team is different from that of last year.”The smiles are back on faces,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure last year; we were waiting for something bad to happen. We’re having fun again. This weekend was a great way to open. It was exciting to see the freshmen get in an actual game and to get a good feel for where they are. They passed the test with flying colors.”The Irish will head back into familiar territory with the Notre Dame Classic, as they climbed to No. 5 in both the NSCAA and Soccer America polls. The Irish play Arizona State Friday at Alumni Field.