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ND Women’s Soccer: Old stadium closes with a ‘W’

Douglas Farmer | Monday, August 31, 2009

The all-day rain stopped just in time for Notre Dame to win the final game at Alumni Field Friday night. Loyola-Chicago challenged the No. 2 Irish on a soaked field, but sophomore forward Melissa Henderson’s goal and assist led Notre Dame to a 2-0 victory.

Contrary to the team’s first game, the Irish (2-0) started strong, as Henderson put the scoreboard to use after less than 14 minutes of game time. Junior midfielder Julie Scheidler assisted on the goal.

“Our start was much better [than last week],” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “Some of the things we worked on during the week we improved on.”

Henderson nearly scored again with 18 minutes left in the second half. The Irish sophomore escaped the Ramblers’ (0-3) defenders and faced only the Loyola-Chicago sophomore goalie Katie Groesch. Henderson’s shot was aimed at the low right corner, but Groesch managed to block it, keeping the Ramblers within striking range.

Notre Dame’s leading scorer helped put the game out of the Ramblers’ reach early in the second half with her passing. An apt pass from Henderson to sophomore midfielder Molly Campbell was quickly redirected into the back of net by Campbell, giving Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.

Notre Dame had 21 shots on goal, whereas Loyola-Chicago only managed six on Irish senior netminder Kelsey Lysander.

“One of the things we did well was create a lot of shot opportunities, and in the last few years that is something we have accomplished,” Waldrum said. “A couple of times even though we created those shot opportunities, we weren’t there for rebounds or added opportunities. That is something we need to improve.”

The early-season rust aside, the victory over Loyola-Chicago was the ideal way to close Alumni Field. In its final game, the field was soaked from 24 hours of rain, with standing water at some spots on the pitch.

“There are a lot of mixed feelings as we move to Alumni Stadium,” Waldrum said. “Alumni Field has 20 years of history, and 10 for me personally. I will miss the atmosphere of the field.”

Since Alumni Field first opened in 1990, the women’s soccer team has amassed a 222-16-4 record. The team currently has a 27-game winning streak at the facility, and has now won its last 30 regular season games.

Having outscored its two opponents this season 5-0, the Irish have started the season in an impressive manner, yet Waldrum is not satisfied.

“We are not where we want to be yet,” the Irish coach said. “At the same time, I would not want to be at peak form this early in the season.”

Peak form was not needed to top Loyola-Chicago on Friday, but may be necessary in Notre Dame’s next game. The team will christen Alumni Stadium this upcoming Friday against rival and defending national champion No. 1 North Carolina.