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Irish seek to repeat title

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The No. 28 Irish will settle for nothing less than a repeat.Throughout the season, the team’s Big East champion aspirations have remained a constant. After winning the tournament last season, Notre Dame has had its sights set on a repeat of last year’s success. “This is a big meet for us,” coach Jay Louderback said. “It’s been our goal to win the Big East all year. This isn’t your normal, everyday match.”Top-seeded Notre Dame (10-10, 3-0 in the Big East) received a first-round bye and will not see competition until Saturday, when they meet the winners of the No. 71 Virginia Tech versus Syracuse match. The winners of Saturday’s match will square off with the winners of the No. 26 second-seeded Miami versus Boston College/Rutgers competition. Both teams present unique challenges to the Irish.”We’ll get to watch them play on Thursday, which will be good for us because we haven’t seen Syracuse all this year,” Louderback said. “They’re both good teams.”Seeded fourth in the tournament, Virginia Tech 13-12 (6-2) has already seen competition against the Irish this year. Notre Dame defeated the Hokies 5-2 in February.The last three years, Virginia Tech has walked away with a third-place finish. With nationally ranked sophomore No. 109 Anat Elazari of Israel leading the team, the Hokies hope to surprise a number of teams competing at the tournament. Elazari is 17-15 and has pulled upsets against No. 23 Alicia Salas and William and Mary’s Megan Muth this season.Syracuse (6-11, 5-2), seeded fifth, will not be a pushover during the tournament, despite their seeding. Although Syracuse dropped matches to Boston College 5-2 and Virginia Tech 7-0, the team did defeat Rutgers earlier this season 4-3. In addition, the Orangewomen have walked away with a fifth-place finish the last three years of the tournament. Louderback said the weather will provide the greatest challenge for the Irish this weekend, as the competition will take place in Coral Gables, Fla. “The temperature can be in the nineties down there. With the weather we’ve been playing in up here, we won’t have a chance to really adjust to the weather [in Florida]. Luckily we play both of our matches in the morning,” Louderback said.