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ND Women’s Soccer: Season starts with shutouts

Chris Masoud | Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Despite opening the season with several new faces on the pitch, the fourth-ranked Irish picked up right where they usually do — in the win column. Bolstered by the solid play of a talented freshman class, Notre Dame posted back-to-back shutouts against Minnesota and UW-Milwaukee in the first action of the 2010 season.

“We opened with two very good teams, two teams that will most likely be in the NCAA Tournament,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “So to get two wins like that early before we hit Santa Clara will be really important.”

Junior forward Melissa Henderson scored an unassisted goal with 11:18 remaining to secure a 1-0 victory Friday night, as the Irish (2-0) improved to 20-2-1 all-time in season-openers. The Golden Gophers (0-1) had the edge in corner kicks, 9-5, but fell short in shots on goal by a margin of 8-4.

The Irish had several scoring chances in the first half, including a look from the top of the penalty area off the first corner kick of the night. Freshman midfielder Mandy Laddish controlled the cross, but missed just high of the goal.

“That’s a really good team,” Waldrum said. “[Minnesota] had the size on us, and they created a lot of problems out of set pieces and corner kicks. But in terms of the run and play, I didn’t think we gave them many opportunities.”

Although the Irish logged the victory, Waldrum said his squad lacked some composure and was unable to dominate the possession game. Looking for an improved performance in the second match of the season, Notre Dame struggled to control the tempo early in Sunday’s contest against UW-Milwaukee.

Held scoreless in the first half, freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker sparked the offense by tallying her first collegiate goal in the 52nd minute. Senior midfielder Rose Augustin followed with two consecutive scores to lead the squad to a 3-0 victory over the Panthers (2-1-2).

“I thought we were outplayed by Milwaukee in the first half of the game, but in the second half we made a couple of adjustments,” Waldrum said. “I think the kids realized that if we could keep the ball, we could make them chase the game, and that’s what we did.”

While the veterans look to pace the squad heading into the season’s toughest challenge against No. 8 Santa Clara on Sept. 3, Waldrum said the impact of the rookies has been significant.

“We lost some key kids last year to graduation, but the freshmen this year have stepped right in,” Waldrum said. “Mandy Laddish, Elizabeth Tucker, Kecia Morway — three freshman that were played a lot this past weekend stepped in and did great. They look like they’re veteran players.”

Waldrum attributed their seamless transition from the high school to the collegiate level to the attitude set by the veterans, especially seniors who have their eyes set on a fourth College Cup in four years.

“I think one thing that our program has always been good at is that our standard has been so high,” Waldrum said. “Everybody knows what the expectations are, and that’s to get to a Final Four every year if we can. The young players, the day they walk in the door, they get that from the veteran players.”