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A dish best served cold

Dan Tapetillo | Friday, October 29, 2004

For the fourth time in the program’s history, the No. 2 Irish (17-0-1) have finished the regular season with an undefeated record after a 4-0 victory over Michigan.”We did not have one bad performance,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “The last few weeks we’ve controlled games, but have not been getting the goals until late. It was huge because this is what we didn’t do to Michigan last year in the playoffs.”Last season, Michigan ended the NCAA playoff run for the Irish in the second round with a 1-0 victory. But it was apparent the Irish were out for redemption in Thursday afternoon’s rematch. The Irish came out quickly as sophomore midfielder Jen Buczkowski scored her seventh goal of the season within the first five minutes of play. In addition to her goal, it was not long for Buczkowski to register an assist for the Irish. She sent the ball 35 yards to the left side of the box for Katie Thorlakson in the 29th minute of play, which gave the Irish a 2-0 lead going into the half.”We didn’t have too many things to correct after the first half,” Waldrum said. “Their [Irish] mentality was let’s make this five or six during the half. But we never felt they had put the game out of reach and came out with the same intensity in the second half.”Halfway through the second period, freshman Amanda Cinalli set up an assist to Candace Chapman in the center of the box and scored her ninth goal of the season and third in two games.”Our main focus was to beat Michigan. What happened last year was a big motivation. It is always better to get a quick start and stop them early,” Chapman said. “A quick goal definitely stopped their momentum.”The momentum clearly was continuing for the Irish as they were once again able to break through the defense once again to score the fourth and final goal of the contest.In the 73rd minute of the match, Cinalli took a pass from Thorlakson and dribbled the ball towards the left side of the box. Cinalli then sent the ball back to Thorlakson who took advantage of the opportunity and scored in the upper left corner of the net for the 4-0 victory.On Sunday, the Irish will begin postseason play in the Big East Tournament at Alumni Field. Although the Irish are the regular season Big East champions, the team remains cautiously confident. “They [Big East opponents] are all good teams on any given day. It is not going to be an easy run through the tournament,” Waldrum said. “It is difficult because you have to prove yourself again.” Notre Dame enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and will face No. 8 St. John’s in the opening round. Despite the 4-6 record St. John’s holds against conference competition, the Irish remember the last time these two teams met and are not looking past the program’s intensity and competitiveness.”St. John’s is fully capable of beating us if we are not ready to play,” Waldrum said. “They are very strong defensively and competitive. They didn’t have a lot of star players last season, but they had enough of a fighting spirit to make it difficult for us to play them.” Adding to the difficulty is the Red Storm are the only remaining team the Irish have not played this season in the Big East. Despite this challenge, Waldrum believes this will only help the team to remain focused for this weekend’s matchup.”We’ve got a good idea of who their key people are,” Waldrum said. “Tomorrow we are going to review those things and use the time on Saturday to prepare.”In preparations for the first game of the postseason, the Irish are fully aware of their ability and have learned from last season to not look past each game. “We are at that point of the year where we have learned our mistakes from last year,” Waldrum said. “So the team is just continuing to focus on what is the next step, St. John’s.”