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ND Women’s Soccer: Rivals of their own

Ken Fowler | Friday, October 14, 2005

Rivalry weekend at Notre Dame kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. when the Irish host Connecticut in a Big East showdown on the same weekend as the Notre Dame-USC football game.

The No. 7 Irish (12-2-0, 6-1-0) and No. 15 Huskies (11-2-1, 7-0-0) lead their respective divisions in the realigned conference and each hope for a big win against a solidified opponent.

The soccer rivalry between UConn and Notre Dame is the biggest in the Big East in the course of the year, and Friday will be the only time the two schools play in the regular season.

Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said the two teams have a history of excellence within the conference.

“Over the six years I’ve been here, it’s been us and UConn,” he said.

The Irish are coming off a 2-0 weekend in conference play in which they only allowed three shots on goal. They have posted three consecutive shutouts since losing badly to Marquette, 4-1.

“I like the way that we’ve rebounded since the Marquette game,” Waldrum said. “I think we’re really confident about where we are.”

Where the Irish are is atop the division and looking for a first-round bye in the upcoming conference tournament.

Notre Dame will likely have a distinct advantage going into the tournament if the Irish win, Waldrum said.

“We’ve got a great chance of getting a first-round bye and getting a home game in that second round,” he said.

The Irish must win first, and that requires shutting down Connecticut’s explosive offense.

He attributed his team’s past success against the Huskies to solid defensive play.

“Over the years, what we’ve been able to do [in wins] is be very good defensively,” he said.

They have the talent to continue that strong defensive play this year, as Irish defender Christie Shaner has led the backfield in its past three games, flanked by standouts Kim Lorenzen, Carrie Dew and others.

Waldrum said he prepared his team to face different looks than Connecticut has shown its other opponents.

“We expect [Connecticut junior] Nikki Cross will probably play up front,” he said. “I know she usually plays in the back … but they’ll show us a few different looks.”

Waldrum said another key to the game for the Irish will be feeding off the energy at Alumni Field.

“I think we always do well Friday nights under the lights,” he said.

Waldrum noted that his team realizes that it will not just play Connecticut this weekend.

The Irish host Providence Sunday, in a game whose original starting time the athletic department moved to noon.

After five days off, the Irish return to action with another two-game set at Alumni Field beginning Friday, Oct. 21 with a match against Villanova. They finish their regular-season schedule Sunday, Oct. 23 against Georgetown.

Waldrum said the Irish will not take those two teams lightly.

The Irish enter this weekend with a lead of three points over Villanova and five points over Georgetown, with each team having played 7 of its 11 conference matches.