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ND?Women’s Soccer: Conference win streak put to test

Alex Barker | Friday, September 25, 2009

As they enter the heart of the conference schedule, the Irish aim to keep their 53-game conference unbeaten streak alive when they travel to take on Cincinnati today.

No. 12 Notre Dame (5-3, 1-0) opened Big East play against DePaul with a dominant 4-0 victory Sept. 18, its 21st straight road victory against conference foes. Two days later, the Irish dispatched Northwestern 2-0.

Junior midfielder Rose Augustin had two goals in the DePaul contest and was named to the Big East Conference weekly Honor Roll for her performance. Junior Taylor Knaack recorded two assists in the game, one to Augustin and another to junior midfielder Lauren Fowlkes.

Against Northwestern, sophomore midfielder Courtney Barg and junior defender Julie Scheidler stole the show with their first goals of the season.

The trouble for Notre Dame this season has been getting the defense and the offense on the same page. In each of the Irish’s five victories, they have shut out their opponents while scoring at least two goals.

In their three losses, the Irish have failed to score a single goal and have been outscored 10-0.

On the bright side, each of Notre Dame’s early season defeats has come at the hands of elite opponents. All three teams that have beaten the Irish (North Carolina, Stanford, and Santa Clara) are ranked in the top-10. UNC and Stanford currently hold the top two spots, respectively.

Looking ahead at the Big East schedule, the Irish will return home for a Sunday matchup with Louisville at Alumni Field. After that, Notre Dame will begin a tough road stretch where they visit West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Seton Hall over a 10-day period.

The Irish offense has been led this season by the outstanding play of sophomore forward Melissa Henderson. Her five goals and 11 points are a team-high. Fowlkes and Augustin are not far behind with three goals apiece.

On defense, senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander has been solid in net. Lysander has 19 saves on the season and is allowing just over one goal per game. She also has two shutouts on the season.

Despite Notre Dame’s impressive conference streak, Cincinnati will not be an easy victory. The Bearcats are on a tear of late having won four straight.

Tonight’s kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Gettler Stadium.