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ND Women’s Soccer: Defensive dandies

Tim Dougherty | Monday, September 25, 2006

No. 1 Notre Dame handed Louisville its first loss of the year 2-0 Sunday thanks to help from a pair of unexpected scorers.

In the 74th minute, sophomore defender Carrie Dew received a cross 15 yards from the goal and sent a rocket past U-20 Team USA teammate and sophomore Cardinal goalkeeper Joanna Haig for her first goal of the year to break a scoreless tie.

Minutes later, junior defender Ashley Jones seized a rare opportunity to record her first score of the season that iced the victory over previously unbeaten Louisville (6-1-1, 1-1 Big East). Sophomore midfielder Jill Krivacek was taken down just inside the 18-yard box, and as Louisville defenders anticipated a whistle, Jones took advantage of the loose ball and open space to drill a low shot by Haig.

Two days after Friday’s 1-0 second half lead at Cincinnati got washed out by game-ending storms, Irish first half scoring chances couldn’t precipitate goals.

Haig made several challenging saves within a few minutes of each other to preserve a 0-0 tie at halftime despite a seven to three shot advantage for the Irish. The onslaught continued in the second half, though many of Notre Dame’s 16 shots – compared to four from Louisville – came outside of the 18, thanks to the packed in Louisville defense that brought all 11 of its defenders in the box on corner kicks and short throw ins.

Though only two balls found the net, Waldrum was encouraged by the opportunities the Irish created in both halves. Similarly, he was not discouraged by the late starts the Irish have gotten off to, owning the second half 22-0 in nine games so far.

“I would love to jump on them and get games finish early,” Waldrum said. “I’m not so worried about it that it’s going catch up with us because I think we’re still continuing to create great opportunities in the first half. I think the thing I’m more concerned with is I would like to score earlier on a more regular basis just, if nothing else, to be able to rotate our players more.”

Waldrum was forced to make a move with his second-half defense after captain centerback Kim Lorenzen hit legs hard with a Cardinal attacker, causing bad bruises and a noticeable cut to her chin. Senior defender Christia Shaner moved inside, where she has seen time this year, and freshman Haley Ford took Shaner’s spot on the outside. The defense did not skip a beat, limiting the Cardinals to one second half shot as junior keeper Lauren Karas did not have to make a save the entire game.

“We all like [Lorenzen] back there but we have plenty of other defenders that can step right in,” said senior midfielder Jen Buczkowski of a defense that has pitched shutouts in seven of its nine games and compiled a 528 minute scoreless streak that dates back to a 3-1 win over Santa Clara Sept. 3.

Following a 2-0 win at Michigan last Sunday that Waldrum described as “lethargic,” the coach was encouraged by his team’s effort this weekend.

“To come in today and play a good team like we did,” he said, “and have the confidence and ability to play like we did, I was pretty pleased with the weekend in general.”

Friday’s 1-0 lead against Cincinnati was nullified after long thunderstorms caused the game to be cancelled. Though freshman forward Michele Weisenhofer scored midway through the first half, the game was called after 50 minutes of play – 20 short of the 70 required for a full game. The Irish will not reschedule the game – which would be restarted in its entirety – unless it affects the top five standings of the Big East tournament at the end of the regular season.

The Irish outshot the Bearcats 11-2 Friday, but Waldrum was more impressed with his team’s attitude during the several hours they were waiting for the storm to blow over.

“It was so interesting because our kids were just like ‘Let’s go play,’ he said. “‘It doesn’t matter whether its one o’clock. Doesn’t matter if its in the parking lot. Let’s play.’

“I was really proud of the mindset because that’s what you want out a team that you think can be a championship team.”