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Top ranked women withstand weekend

Matt Mooney | Monday, October 11, 2004

Notre Dame hadn’t seen a close one-goal game in three weeks. This weekend they got an eyeful.The No. 1 ranked Irish (14-0-0, 7-0-0 in the Big East) kept their perfect record intact after two narrow road victories, edging Villanova (10-4-0, 4-3-0) on Friday by a 1-0 score and then sneaking by Georgetown (5-7-0, 2-4-0) in dramatic fashion on Sunday for a 2-1 win. Freshman forward/midfielder Amanda Cinalli scored a goal in each game, and midfielder Jen Buczkowski netted the game-winner against Georgetown with 44 seconds left in regulation. The clutch goal, Buczkowski’s fifth this season, already gives her more than the four she scored in 2003.With the two wins, Notre Dame clinches home field advantage for the Big East Tournament beginning Oct. 30. The team has also played the second-most games without a loss or a tie in program history. Only the 2000 Notre Dame squad had more wins to start a season winning its first 16 consecutive games on the way to an NCAA Final Four appearance.However, coach Randy Waldrum isn’t concerned about history but rather with his team’s sloppy play on Sunday. Against Georgetown, Notre Dame proved to be its own worst enemy with unnecessary and self-destructive mistakes.”Villanova’s got a good team, but I think [against] Georgetown, we’re clearly better and we made it closer than we needed to,” Waldrum said. “I hope we take this kind of a thing as a wake up call [because] everybody’s good enough in the Big East [where] if you’re not ready to play you’re not always going to win.”The Hoyas dealt the first blow by scoring with less than four minutes remaining in the half. But the Irish answered right back when Cinalli tied the game 59 seconds later. She put a pass from Maggie Manning over Georgetown goalkeeper Jade Higgins and into the top of the net.Notre Dame had its opportunities in the second half, but still could not manage a goal. The game looked as though it might head into overtime until Buczkowski put a feed from Jannica Tjeder inside the left post to all but secure the victory.”Jannica played a great ball through and I wanted to take a good touch towards goal and then get it on frame,” Buczkowski said.On Friday, the Irish got just what they expected from Villanova, a defensive struggle. It took a perfectly placed shot from Cinalli in the middle of the first half to beat Wildcat goalkeeper Jillian Loyden.”She scored a world-class goal,” Waldrum said. “From 25 yards out she stuck it right in the top corner.”Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn provided ample support, posting the team’s seventh shutout this season.The two bright spots on the weekend were the performances of Cinalli and Bohn. With her pair of goals, Cinalli now has seven on the season, good for the second-highest total on the team.”With the [team] movement of the ball, they set me up for great opportunities so I don’t do a lot of the work,” she said.”She’s just a highly competitive kid,” Waldrum said of his star freshman. “If we can get her to go to the goal a little more and take advantage of shooting opportunities, she’s only going to get better.”This weekend, Waldrum was also looking for one of his three goalkeepers to establish herself worthy of the starting role for the remainder of the season. Bohn’s play this weekend may have earned her that distinction.”She played very well against Villanova and [against Georgetown] the goal that was scored was not her fault,” Waldrum said. “She had a very good weekend.”Though he doesn’t think the Irish gave their best effort, he can still see signs of improvement.”As young as we are, we’re still continuing to learn how to handle these kind of situations,” he said. “We lost the game up here two years ago and this year, to do it and win, I hope it’s a sign we’re growing a little bit.”