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ND Women’s Soccer: Battle of Texans vs. Mustangs

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, September 12, 2008

Tonight is likely to be a Texas showdown – well, sort off.

The No. 2 Irish are set to take on Southern Methodist University, but they won’t be the only Texans on the field.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum is a native of Irving, Texas, an alum of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, and oh, before he came to Notre Dame, he coached at Baylor. Assistant coach Dawn Greathouse played for Waldrum at Baylor and graduated in 2001. But the list goes on. The Irish roster is composed of eight Texas natives, including standouts Kerri Hanks and Jessica Schuveiller.

Aside from a case of good ‘ole Texan competition, tonight’s game is the first time the Irish will be playing with their new No. 2 ranking. But Waldrum said the team isn’t concerned with the number.

“One thing that we’ve never really done is worry a whole lot about the rankings. … It’s something we haven’t spent a lot of time and we don’t really talk about it with the team,” Waldrum said.

“At the end of the day I think all of our players have been here long enough and the staff’s been here long enough to know that it’s how you end and not where you are in terms of the rankings.”

But there’s a reason the Irish enter tonight’s contest as the second-ranked team in the nation. Last weekend, when Notre Dame was ranked No. 4, beat then-No. 3 North Carolina and No. 12 Duke.

SMU enters tonight having last lost to No. 21 Kansas 1-0.

And Waldrum said he recognizes that the Mustangs challenged Kansas and are likely to do the same against Notre Dame.

Holding the No. 2 ranking comes with a price, in the shape of a bullseye on Notre Dame’s back. Waldrum said the Mustangs have likely been preparing to defend the aggressive Irish offense.

“A lot of teams bunker in on us, and a lot of teams spend a lot of time defending on us,” Waldrum said.

But that doesn’t mean the Irish have altered their style of play.

“We’re not doing a lot of things differently than what we normally do in training because we see those styles an awful lot as we go through the season,” Waldrum said. “But I think the key for us is just coming out with the intensity that we need to come out with and that we play with the speed we need to play with.”

And while the Irish have no intention of changing their tactics, that doesn’t mean they won’t look to get some different players on the field. Notre Dame has started five different lineups in its past five games, and Waldrum said he plans to start yet another new lineup tonight.

But the one thing that’s remained consistent in the Irish lineup is their defense. Carrie Dew, Schuveiller and Elise Weber have all remained in the backfield. Waldrum said if possible, he’d like to give the trio some time to rest. And since Dew and Schuveiller both played a full 90 minutes against North Carolina and Duke, a little time on the bench might we a warmed welcome.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7:30 at Alumni Field.