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ND Women’s Soccer: Team’s focus lies in details

Bill Brink | Friday, October 5, 2007

Whatever the cause of Notre Dame’s recent success, the Irish don’t feel they are done improving as they head into this weekend’s games at Syracuse and St. John’s.

Rather than focusing on specific game plans for the Orange or Red Storm, the Irish worked on their own game, junior midfielder Brittany Bock said.

“We’re just more focusing on how we’re playing,” Bock said. “The past couple games have been more of our mistakes than anything. We’re really focusing on what we have to do and that will take care of the games.”

It’s a bit ironic that the team would work on fixing mistakes after its last game, a 6-1 win over Cincinnati Sunday.

The Irish are 3-1 in their last four games and have a 12-3 scoring edge over their opponents in that stretch. Bock said that even momentary lapses of concentration can affect a game, which is why the team is focusing on fundamentals.

“They’re just little errors, little mental mistakes,” Bock said. “We’ve been playing well as a team, but it’s just one little mental breakdown on any part of the field that just leads to a whole sequence and then a goal. It’s just staying sharp the whole game, working hard at any moment and not letting down for one second.

“Just 10 seconds of the game can put you out.”

The Irish face a Syracuse team Friday that is 4-4-3 and recently tied No. 22 West Virginia in overtime. The Orange goalkeeper, sophomore Eliza Bennett-Hattan, has allowed only 11 goals during the season and has made 63 saves. Senior midfielder Jen Taormina leads Syracuse in scoring with four goals.

The Red Storm are 7-2-1 and are fresh off a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh. Senior forward Krystle Jalalian leads St. John’s with five goals. The Red Storm has rotated two keepers, junior Rebecca Capinera and senior Jaime Beran. Neither one presents a weakness – between the two of them, they’ve given up seven total goals and just 0.67 per game.

The Irish head into this weekend with a 27-game unbeaten streak against Big East opponents. They are 26-0-1 since a loss to Marquette in 2005. In light of the team’s early losses, Bock said, the streak remains important – not only to the team but also to the NCAA Tournament.

“Especially with the four losses we’ve had, it’s more crucial than any time to keep all those wins in the Big East just to help our rankings for the NCAA’s,” she said. “That’s always on the back of our mind, rankings for the NCAA’s. And obviously we want to go undefeated in the Big East and win the Big East conference.”

Bock said the team dynamic felt more like that of her first two seasons with the Irish.

Early in the year, the offense struggled to convert scoring chances while the defense lacked the full abilities of junior center back Carrie Dew, who was recovering from an ACL injury she suffered at the end of last season. Now, although sophomore center back Haley Ford remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, the defense is strong.

Freshman Lauren Fowlkes switched from midfielder to center back and has handled the transition well. Sophomore forward Michele Weissenhofer, recently out because of an ankle injury, saw time against Cincinnati and scored twice in the final 14 minutes.

The team is in good form, Bock said.

“We’re excited about this weekend, and each weekend on forward, just because we’re playing well, we’re on top of things, and things are just starting to really click,” she said. ” … We’re looking forward to this Friday, and after that, to take care of business the rest of the way.”