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ND Women’s Soccer: Team looks to extend conference win streak

Allan Joseph | Friday, October 1, 2010

The No. 5/7 Irish look to continue their NCAA-record 69-match conference unbeaten streak this weekend as they welcome a pair of unranked Big East opponents from New York in Syracuse and St. John’s to Alumni Stadium this weekend. Notre Dame (9-1-0, 3-0-0 Big East) faces the Orange (5-4-3, 2-1-0) Friday night and then hosts the Red Storm (4-5-1, 1-2-0) Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame first faced Syracuse in 1997 and laid an 8-0 demolition on the Orange, and the Irish have not looked back since that first victory. The Irish have won all of the teams’ eight meetings, though the last meeting was in 2007.

Syracuse will have a different personality from that 2007 meeting, as Orange coach Phil Wheddon took over the team after the 2007 season and has never faced the Irish. In addition, Syracuse freshman goalie Brittany Anghel has been a standout between the pipes, recording four clean sheets in ten matches, earning recognition on the Big East weekly honor roll.

Irish junior forward Melissa Henderson will spearhead the Irish offense in trying to break Anghel, while Irish senior goalie Nikki Weiss will be focused on stopping Orange senior forward Megan Bellingham, a goal-creating machine with three goals and three assists on the season.

Sunday’s matchup with St. John’s will be the first of two televised games for the Irish this season, as CBS College Sports will carry the game live. Notre Dame has also had a history of success against the Red Storm, winning the inaugural matchup 9-0 and winning each of the teams’ 12 meetings.

Sunday’s game will provide another test for the offense, as junior St. John’s goalkeeper Kristin Russell has been stonewalling opponents all year, posting a 0.93 goals-against average and also recording four shutouts of her own.

Though the series has historically been one-sided, the teams’ last meeting was anything but. Last year’s Big East semifinals pitted the Irish and Red Storm and it took a 99th-minute overtme goal from junior defender Jessica Schuveiller off a corner kick from senior forward Rose Augustin to put Notre Dame past the Red Storm by the count of 2-1.

Despite the fact that the Irish have won all 19 of their games against opponents from New York state by a cumulative score of 89-4, Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum has repeatedly said that his team should not take any conference games lightly and will coach his team to avoid such mistakes.

“I like where we are,” Waldrum said on Sep 19. “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.”

The Irish open up the first half of a four-game home stand with a clash against Syracuse Friday at 7:30 p.m. and then face St. John’s in a televised matchup at 12 p.m. Sunday. Both games are at Alumni Stadium.