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WOMEN’S SOCCER: Irish will face tests at Alumni

Ken Fowler | Friday, September 16, 2005

After a weekend of “sloppy play,” the Irish (5-1-0) kick off their Big East schedule tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Field against conference newcomer DePaul (1-3-1).

The game will be Notre Dame’s first since returning with a split from the SCU Adidas Classic in Santa Clara, Calif. last weekend. The Irish lost the opener 2-1 to the host Broncos but bounced back with a 4-1 victory over Gonzaga Sunday, despite what Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum called a mediocre performance.

“I wasn’t real pleased with the performance against Gonzaga,” he said. “I mean, you’ve got to be happy that we turned around after the loss and got a win, but I don’t think it was nearly as sharp as it should be. We didn’t have the mindset that we would come out and kill Gonzaga.”

But this weekend presents an opportunity for the Irish to regain the sharpness with which they played in the first four games of the season.

The Irish scored 27 goals in the first two weekends of the schedule en route to four wins, including wins over then-No. 24 Maryland and then-No. 13 Florida at the Inn at Saint Mary’s Notre Dame Classic.

Waldrum said that he wishes that his squad could play to its maximum potential, but many of the problems that loomed large when the Irish lost to Santa Clara a week ago still plague the team.

He said that freshman forward Brittany Bock is making progress on a knee injury, and several other players have missed practice time this week.

“I haven’t gotten the update on Jill [Krevicek] on what her status will be [for the weekend games],” Waldrum said.

That could pose somewhat of a problem for the Irish, as preparations for DePaul were somewhat more difficult because of the lack of history between the teams.

However, DePaul’s lackluster offense may allow the Irish more breathing room in the contest; the Blue Demons have managed only two goals in five games this year. With the Irish defense one of the better backfields in the country, DePaul will have to play a near flawless game to hang with Notre Dame.

Waldrum said that the Irish will have to focus on executing their plays properly, rather than countering specific tendencies of the opponent.

“With DePaul being a new team into the conference … what we’re going to focus on for Friday is trying to get the backs more and more organized,” Waldrum said.

The DePaul game wasn’t the only one the Irish have to prepare for this week, though. They host Michigan (2-1-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday in another Midwest battle.

The game against Michigan is of historical importance, as the Wolverines were the last team to defeat Notre Dame at Alumni Field. In fact, Michigan represents Notre Dame’s last two home losses.

The Irish lost 1-0 to the Wolverines at home Nov. 16, 2003 in the second round of the NCAA tournament, less than three weeks after falling 3-2 to them in the team’s final regular-season game.

The Wolverines are not as strong as they were two years ago, but have proven difficult for good teams this year.

They tied No. 23 Kansas 1-1 in their season opener, and matched No. 6 Texas A&M with the same score Sept. 4.

The Irish offense, however, is more potent than any of those that Michigan has played thus far this year.

Waldrum said that the Irish will try to continue their aggressive offensive play this weekend.

“The one thing that continues to be good is the attacking part of our game,” he said.