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ND Women’s Soccer: Soccer’s erratic nature kills

Fran Tolan | Monday, December 8, 2008

CARY, N.C. – Soccer is more fickle than an on-again, off-again significant other.

After his team defeated Notre Dame 2-1 in the national title game, North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance articulated that fact to highlight the momentous feat his team had just completed.

“The trouble with a game like ours is it’s a roll of the dice,” Dorrance said. “There’s no guarantee even on your best day, even on a day you dominate, that you’re going to win.”

The nature of soccer, as Dorrance described it, came back to haunt Notre Dame.

After beginning the season 26-0-0, the Irish finished on a one-game losing streak. And that loss is what matters right now.

Notre Dame trailed just twice all season. Unfortunately for them, one of those instances was the final two minutes of the national title game.

Which is why it hurts so much. There’s no way around it. And the Irish didn’t try to disguise the pain they felt. In the team’s press conference after the game, Irish coach Randy Waldrum gave his shortest post-game statement of the season.

“I’m just really proud of our girls. That’s it,” the normally gregarious coach said.

Notre Dame had an opportunity to go down as one of the best teams in the history of college soccer. Instead, the senior class will leave with three College Cup appearances and no meaningful hardware. At least not the most meaningful trophy.

“The season has been phenomenal,” Waldrum said. “I told the girls they’ll look back in a few weeks and recognize how great of a season it’s been.”

Still, seniors Kerri Hanks, Carrie Dew, Elise Weber and Brittany Bock deserved better.

Even though soccer is often such a crapshoot, the fourth-year players must feel like their numbers never came up.

After Notre Dame beat Stanford 1-0 on Friday despite being outshot 20-12, Cardinal players and coach Paul Ratcliffe repeatedly talked about the illogical nature of soccer.

They claimed that they outplayed the Irish in the second half but simply got unlucky.

Notre Dame, especially the seniors, surely felt the same way as the crowd counted down the final seconds of the season. The Irish had defeated North Carolina in the teams’ last two meetings but came up just short on Sunday.

Most of the Notre Dame players took up soccer when they were barely kindergarten graduates. For the most part, the sport treated them well and that’s why they have given so much of their time to it.

But on Sunday, the Irish surely felt like soccer packed up its bags and moved out on them.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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