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ND Women’s Soccer: Freshman Footwork

Chris Masoud | Monday, September 20, 2010

Although the transition from high school to collegiate soccer generally isn’t a seamless transition, freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker is doing her best to prove otherwise. Tucker accounted for three of Notre Dame’s four goals over weekend, lifting the Irish to a 2-0 victory over DePaul on Friday and a 2-1 win against Northwestern on Sunday.

Tucker netted both goals Friday to kick off No. 7 Notre Dame’s conference season with a win, as the squad outshot DePaul (5-3-2) 13-6. Irish coach Randy Waldrum was especially pleased with his team’s composure on the notoriously difficult Wish Field, a site Waldrum said the Irish (7-1) have struggled to find success in the past.

“I thought Friday night when we played DePaul … we actually played pretty well,” Waldrum said. “It’s a really hard field to play on. It’s on AstroTurf field, and the L-train runs right by it, and there’s a dorm right on the sidelines. It’s just a really bad, difficult place to play.”

Although Tucker’s contributions thus far have been well appreciated by her teammates, the freshman had yet to deliver a performance quite like the one she turned in this weekend. She opened the scoring again on Sunday, finding the back of the net just 4:16 into the match.

“She got played in behind the defense, and she got in right before the goalkeeper and dribbled it around her and kind of hit the ball in the empty net,” Waldrum said. “She was really composed.”

Waldrum attributed Tucker’s ability to have an impact right out of high school to her exceptional conditioning, as she finished in first or second in the team’s conditioning tests before the season began.

“The one thing I like about her is she’s got this engine that doesn’t stop,” he said. “She is busy all the time.”

Junior forward Melissa Henderson provided the game-winner after the Wildcats (4-3-2) pulled even just 36 seconds after Tucker’s score. Henderson earned a penalty kick after Northwestern goalkeeper Carolyn Edwards tackled the striker in the box, and her ensuing strike was on target.

Although the return of junior midfielder Courtney Barg from injury is uncertain, Waldrum remains confident that his team is well-positioned heading into the heart of the conference season.

“I like where we are,” Waldrum said. “The thing now with the Big East — there’s just no easy teams. They’re all good, and it’s quite different than it was five, six years ago when we would beat teams five or six [to] nothing. The parity is getting to where you want it.”