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ND Women’s Soccer: Above the rest

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, October 10, 2008

The Hoyas have 12 days of rest on Notre Dame, but it wasn’t welcomed. The norovirus – a stomach virus – infected more than 170 Georgetown students and virtually shut down the campus, athletics included. Whether or not 12 days off means well rested legs or rusty skills remains to be seen.

“That can sometimes be a good thing and that can sometimes be a bad thing, and we won’t know that till we get out on the field,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “But they’re certainly going to be very well-rested and very anxious and eager to play a game since they’ve been off that long.”

Regardless, the conference game is likely to be a battle. No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0-0) and No. 17 Georgetown (8-0-2) sit as the only two undefeated teams in the Big East, both playing similar systems that are likely to go head to head.

Georgetown coach Dave Nolan is in his fifth season and finally has an experienced team to work with. With eight upperclassmen, the team is mature enough to test Notre Dame’s experience.

“I think they’re just getting a little bit more experience … What you see is just some growing and maturity and their confidence playing against better competition, so you see the team starting to mature … The program is on the rise,” Waldrum said.

Georgetown’s last match, a 1-0 win over Rutgers, was last month. The Irish defeated Marquette 3-1 Sunday, but not without a little elbow grease. The Golden Eagles buried a go-ahead goal to take the 1-0 lead, something that had yet to happen to the Irish in the 2008 season. But they fired back for the win, with senior captain Brittany Bock netting two of the three goals.

Bock, whose presence and leadership on the pitch has never been doubted, has struggled to put the ball in the net. But with the winning goal against Marquette, Bock’s frustration is likely to pass.

“[Bock is] key for us,” Waldrum said. “I’d like to see her continue in scoring goals, she’s been playing very well for us but she’s been getting a little frustrated that the goals weren’t coming her way and those two goals that were so important at Marquette, I think now she’s kind of got that monkey off her back.”

But even with the rust off Bock’s boots, the Hoyas likely know how to challenge every Irish asset. The teams last faced off in the Big East semi-finals last November, and Georgetown returns many of the same players. Waldrum knows the Hoya midfielders are fast and clever and will likely look to shake up the Irish defense, but he hopes Notre Dame’s experience will be able to swing things in its favor.

“We’ll go out and match up our players with theirs and if we can, kind of impose our way on them,” Waldrum said. “I think that’s what’s gonna be the key is which team can kind of impose themselves on the other when you have two teams that play the same system