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ND Women’s Soccer: Defense earns weekly honors

Chris Masoud | Thursday, August 26, 2010

While two games is hardly a large enough sample size to make any predictions, posting back-to-back shutouts against Minnesota and Milwaukee to open the season may be an indication of things to come. Recognized for their efforts as stalwarts of the Irish defense, junior defender Jessica Schuveiller and senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss nabbed Big East Weekly Honors in the first announcement of the season.

Although Notre Dame (2-0) has found the back of the net in its two contests, the offense has struggled at times to find its rhythm. A goal by junior forward Melissa Henderson late in the second half secured a 1-0 victory on Friday over Minnesota (0-1), but Irish coach Randy Waldrum credits the defense, particularly Weiss, for creating that opportunity.

“I thought Nikki kept us in both games,” Waldrum said. “Minnesota had a couple of chances to score early against us, and didn’t, and that kept us in until we could get the game-winner.”

The senior netminder earned two shutouts over the weekend, holding the Golden Gophers scoreless with three stops, while recording five saves against Milwaukee (2-1-2). Weiss led the Big East last season with a 0.15 goals against average in league play.

“I’m very grateful,” Weiss said. “I didn’t have to do a ton this weekend. I think Jessica deserved it more than I did. I’m definitely honored, and it’s a step in the right direction for the team to have two defensive awards this week.”

In addition to the conference weekly honors, Schuveiller was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer National team of the week, marking the second time the two-year captain has earned both conference and national honors in the same season. A first team all-Big East selection as a sophomore, Schuveiller led an Irish defense that prevented several Panther scoring chances from reaching Weiss on Sunday.

“She’s kind of the rock, our glue in the back,” Waldrum said. “She made three real key one-on-one stops individually against Milwaukee that I thought really helped us get the win and get us off on the right foot. If those goals get scored, you don’t know what happens.”

Schuveiller said she views the weekly honors as a team achievement, and recognizes the defense’s versatility and the added depth of the freshman class as contributing factors in the two shutouts.

“It’s definitely an honor, but I owe a lot of that credit to my teammates,” Schuveiller said. “I thought we played so well defensively in the back, and obviously I can’t win those awards if we’re not keeping points off the board.”

Schuveiller also credited the attitude fostered by the seniors, who assisted her transition from a raw talent out of high school into an all-around collegiate defender who started all 27 games as a freshman.

“Coming in as a freshman, I had seniors that really put me in the right direction and good upperclassmen that showed me what it’s like to lead the younger players,” she said. “So I gained a lot of experience from them, and I’m trying to pass that on.”