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Women’s Soccer: Irish resume conference play

Fran Tolan | Friday, September 28, 2007

After finishing its daunting early-season non-conference slate, Notre Dame heads into the second phase of its schedule this weekend.

The Irish beat DePaul 4-0 in their first Big East game Sept. 21 before falling to Big Ten foe Penn State 2-1 two days later. Notre Dame will now play 10 straight conference matches before the postseason begins. The Irish are 3-4-1 overall but look to stay perfect in league play.

“The non-conference games are the first phase of our season, where we try to improve our seeding for the NCAA Tournament,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “Obviously, we didn’t do what we wanted in that phase, but now we’re in phase two.”

The Irish visit No. 25 Louisville on Friday before returning home to take on Cincinnati Sunday. The Cardinals are 6-1-1 overall and 2-0-1 on their home turf.

“Louisville is a very hard place to play,” Waldrum said. “The fans get right behind the goal and yell at the defense and the goalie the whole game.”

Louisville senior goalkeeper Joanna Haig, who earned Big East goalkeeper of the week last week after registering shutouts against Kentucky and Cincinnati, has registered five clean slates in the team’s eight games this season.

On offense, the Cardinals are led by freshman forward Kelsey Hunyadi and junior forward Shannon Smyth, each of whom has put up three goals and an assist.

“It’s not going to be an easy test,” Waldrum said. “They’re a good team but you have to beat the good teams.

On Sunday, the Irish will host Cincinnati, which is 3-4-1 overall and 0-1 in Big East play.

The Bearcats took Louisville to double-overtime last Friday before falling 1-0 to their rival.

Waldrum knows that defeating Cincinnati will not be a simple task.

“In this conference, there’s such parity that everyone is capable of beating anyone on a given day,” he said. “Last year, there were only about two or three really good teams but that’s no longer the case.”

After a tough loss in which the Irish out-shot Penn State 24-9, Notre Dame will look to cut down on the mental errors that have cost it several games this season.

“Sunday, we gave the game away with some little things we need to work on,” Waldrum said. “But the girls know where we are as far as correcting those mistakes.”

Irish junior forward Kerri Hanks, who has scored in four consecutive games, looks to add to that streak and start a new one – a team winning streak.

“We’re just focusing on Friday at Louisville and trying to win all our Big East games,” Hanks said.