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ND Women’s Soccer: Talented frosh arrive on campus

Ken Fowler | Saturday, August 19, 2006

Notre Dame needed to replace two All-Americans, a four-year starting goalkeeper and a starting senior midfielder after they graduated in May. No problem.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum signed five players to letters of intent in February, and four more have joined the team to start the 2006 campaign, as the team kicks off with a preseason No. 5 ranking.

Waldrum announced the signings of forward Michele Weissenhoffer, defender Haley Ford, goalie Kelsey Lysander and midfielders Courtney Rosen and Amanda Clark Feb. 5.

He later added defenders Mara Paz de Araujo, Rachel VanderGenugten and Ashley Galovic and midfielders Amber Lattner and Micaela Alvarez to the team’s fall roster.

“We’ve been very pleased with all five,” Waldrum said after Notre Dame’s 5-0 victory over Xavier in an exhibition game Thursday on Alumni Field. “They’ve all come in like veterans.”

Weissenhoffer, who scored a goal and added an assist in the win, will take the roster spot of Katie Thorlakson. Thorlakson was a two-time All-American who tallied 18 goals and 35 assists (71 points) her senior season after leading the Irish to a national championship in 2004 with 23 goals and 24 assists.

Weissenhoffer was a club teammate of Clark, who led the back line of their Eclipse Select club team that won national titles in 2004 and 2005.

At 5-foot-6, Clark offers the physical versatility both to shut down opposing offenses and stretch the field as a defender or midfielder.

The freshman class’ natural midfielder, Rosen, is a product of Brecksville, Ohio, and has played on the U.S. U-17 and U-18 national squads since she was 15.

While Rosen, Clark and Weissenhoffer all were highly sought-after recruits, Waldrum said the 5-foot-9 defender Ford slipped under the radar of many other programs.

Ford was a dedicated player in high school, regularly traveling five and a half hours from her hometown of Midland, Texas, to Dallas to play with her club team, the Dallas Texans.

“It’s a lot easier now,” Ford said of living on campus within a few minutes of the practice field.

Her defensive responsibilities will be important as Notre Dame enters 2006 without graduated defender Candace Chapman and goalkeeper Erika Bohn.

That’s where Lysander comes in.

She, senior Nikki Westfall and junior Lauren Karas will combine to replace the veteran Bohn. Westfall was sidelined this preseason with an injury but will be ready to compete for the starting job this week.

“We love [Lysander’s] athleticism,” Waldrum said. “One thing I like about her is her confidence. She didn’t come into this in awe.”

The freshmen will be put to the test when the Irish take on Iowa State Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. on Alumni Field.