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ND Women’s Soccer: Team on verge of NCAA record

Alex Barker | Friday, October 2, 2009

Although this hasn’t been quite the record-setting season they had hoped, the Irish will be chasing one historical mark when they hit the road for matches against West Virginia and Pittsburgh this weekend.

With a win or tie against West Virginia (4-3-4, 1-1-1 Big East) today, No. 8 Notre Dame would set the NCAA Division I record for the longest unbeaten streak in conference play at 56 games. The Irish are currently riding a 53-0-2 stretch in Big East competition.

This season, Notre Dame (7-3, 3-0 Big East) has gotten off to a fast start in conference play, outscoring their opponents 7-1 in three victories.

The Irish have struggled on the road thus far. After dropping two games against top 10 foes Santa Clara and Stanford at the Santa Clara/adidas Classic in Santa Clara, Calif., they snuck by a good Cincinnati squad 2-1 at Cincinnati.

Notre Dame heads into the game with revenge on its mind after dropping its last match against the Mountaineers via shootout in the championship match of the 2007 Big East tournament. 

This is an important game for the Irish to assert themselves as the team to beat in the Big East as West Virginia was picked second in the league’s preseason poll.

The tandem of sophomore Melissa Henderson and junior Lauren Fowlkes lead the Irish offensively with five goals apiece this season. Henderson is the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year and both players have been named to this year’s Hermann Trophy watch list.

Kelsey Lysander leads the Irish defense in goal, having started eight of 10 matches this season.

The senior has recorded 21 saves on the year and is allowing just under a goal per game.

After facing the Mountaineers, the Irish will head to Indianola, Penn., for a match with the Panthers. Pittsburgh (5-2-3, 0-0-3) is winless in nine tries all-time against the Irish.

Notre Dame has already taken down DePaul and Louisville at home in Big East competition to go along with the road victory against Cincinnati. The Irish defeated the Blue Demons and the Cardinals by scores of 4-0 and 1-0, respectively. They are looking to expand their two-point lead over Rutgers in the conference’s National Division.

Looking ahead at the Irish’s schedule, they will remain on the road with matches against Rutgers and Seton Hall next week before returning home for a four-game Big East home stand to end the regular season.

Today’s game against West Virginia is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Sunday’s game with Pittsburgh will kick off at 1 p.m.