The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



ND Women’s Soccer: Squad travels to West Coast

Mike Gotimer | Friday, September 10, 2010

The gauntlet continues for No. 3/4 Notre Dame this weekend as the Irish head west for their first ever trip to southern California in the UCLA Women’s Cup.

Headlining the trip for the Irish will be their matchup with No. 13 UCLA, a perennial force in NCAA soccer Friday night. The Irish will then wrap things up Sunday with a game against Loyola Marymount.

UCLA (2-1) opened the year as the consensus No. 3 team in the country, but an early upset loss to Northwestern saw the Bruins take a tumble in the polls, something that Irish coach Randy Waldrum thinks will add extra motivation for the UCLA squad.

“I think they’re going to be really ready to play the next few weeks to gain back a little of that respect they lost,” Waldrum said,

The Bruins are led by junior forward Sydney Leroux, who won the Golden Boot at the under-20 World Cup. She currently leads UCLA with five goals and 11 points. Junior goalkeeper Chante Sandiford has been stout between the pipes for the Bruins, with a 0.52 goals against average and a shutout in four starts.

“They’re really loaded with talent,” Waldrum said of the Bruins. “You look at that team and they’re made up of a lot of national team kids, so they’re going to be pretty solid through and through.”

Notre Dame (4-0) leads the all-time series with UCLA 2-0-0, with both wins coming in the NCAA Tournament. Their most recent victory over the Bruins was in the 2004 NCAA finals, when the Irish won a national championship in a penalty shootout. The victory marked the first and only time that the national title has been decided on penalty kicks.

Loyola Marymount will also be a relatively new foe for the Irish, as this weekend’s matchup will mark just the second time that the two squads have faced each other. Their previous matchup was a 4-0 win for Notre Dame in 2008, the last season at old Alumni Stadium. Junior Melissa Henderson notched a goal in the game during what was her first season with the Irish.

The Lions are off to a 4-1 start this year, with just a 2-1 loss to No. 14 California in the season opener marring their record. They will also be Notre Dame’s second opponent from the West Coast Conference in as many weekends, as the Irish played Santa Clara last Friday.

Loyola Marymount is led this year by a pair of freshmen in defender Tata Gilmer and forward Tawni Martino. Martino leads Loyola Marymount with four goals, and senior midfielder Nickey Ha trails her with three. Like UCLA, the Lions have a stout netminder in goal in freshman Brittany Jagger, who has posted an 0.80 goals against average and a .871 save percentage.

The Irish will kick off against UCLA at 7 p.m. Pacific time Friday and will round out the weekend at 11 p.m. Sunday against Loyola Marymount.