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ND Women’s Soccer: Seminoles travel to colder climate to face undefeated ND

Deirdre Krasula | Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the first time in this NCAA Tournament, the Irish will take on a team not versed in the cold and snow. But No. 6 Florida State is also the highest-ranked opponent Notre Dame has faced yet.

And even with a southern team traveling to Alumni Field to take on the No. 1 Irish Friday, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he knows the team will be challenged.

“How much [home field advantage] really factors in I’m not really sure,” Waldrum said. “But that I think that’s why you try to win as many games as you can to secure home field.”

And there’s a reason the Irish earned the No. 1 seed in their bracket and home field advantage through Friday’s night game – they’re the No. 1 team in the nation with a perfect record. The Irish defense sits at the backbone of that success. The Irish have allowed only two goals in the Tournament, both of which came in their 5-2 win over Toledo in the first round.

“We’ve been really good throughout the Tourney defensively … I just think defensively we’ve really been on the last month,” Waldrum said.

With senior offensive star Kerri Hanks getting all the attention, it’s easy to forget the other senior who shares her first name (be it slightly varied): senior Carrie Dew. Dew sits at the center of the Irish four-man zone, directing and preventing opponents from getting shots on goal.

“She’s just gotten better and better as the year’s gone on, her presence, she’s taken on now more of a leadership role than she did even earlier in the year … she’s just elevated it to another level,” Waldrum said.

Coming from a club in San Diego that taught her the importance of a zone defense, Dew needed little instruction, but Notre Dame wasn’t just a place for Dew to play four years before hitting the national scene.

“When we get kids here as freshman, we hope when they graduate they’re not just four years older, they’re four years better,” Waldrum said.

It’s that experience and knowledge that has built a defense where in addition to Dew, defenders Elise Weber, Julie Scheidler and Jessica Schuveiller work together in perfect unison.

“The organization of the back four plus the goalkeeper, the coordination and the organization is huge … when you zone like we do, it’s very important that every player not only do their job but that they’re confident in the player next to them,” Waldrum said.

Those four players sit at the base of Notre Dame’s 4-3-3 system, which though similar to the Seminoles 4-4-2, will have to adjust to a team that can defend and attack nearly as well as the Irish. Sophomore forward Sanna Talonen leads Florida State with 16 goals. And like the Irish, the Seminoles play a game of possession, not like the physical style of Minnesota seen in round three. Meaning both Florida State and Notre Dame will look to control the ball in their respective offensive halves.

“I think your going to find two teams that will try to play on that field, so certainly you put a priority on keeping the ball and trying to play,” Waldrum said.

The game kicks off at 7 Friday night.