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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish reflect on broken streak

Chris Masoud | Thursday, November 4, 2010

“At some point in time, you’re going to lose that conference game — that record is going to be broken at some point in time.”

Irish coach Randy Waldrum recognized that his team’s NCAA Division I-record unbeaten conference streak would come to an end in an Oct. 3 interview. However, he didn’t plan on that end coming in a 2-0 loss to Connecticut Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Big East Championships.

“I just think it was a mentality,” Waldrum said. “It was coming out mentally not focused to play. It wasn’t X’s and O’s, anything they [Huskies] were doing to us in particular that was hurting us.”

After battling the Huskies to a 1-1 tie on the road earlier in the season, Waldrum said he was “selfishly” hoping Connecticut would take down Louisville in the first round of the Big East championships to set up a rematch at Alumni Stadium. The Huskies held up their end of the bargain, but after being held scoreless for the first time all season, the Irish could not convert the opportunity into a semifinals berth.

Snapping two streaks with one victory, Connecticut ended Notre Dame’s 77-match Big East unbeaten streak, as well as its 100-match conference home unbeaten streak, which dated back to 1995.

While Waldrum accepted responsibility for the loss, he said his squad did not receive the support he expected at a home playoff match. Sunday’s attendance totaled 416, down from a near-sellout crowd of 2,229 on Sept. 3 during a 1-0 victory over then-No.8 Santa Clara.

“[Home field advantage] didn’t help us at all for a couple of reasons — first and foremost, it didn’t help us because we weren’t ready to play,” Waldrum said. “But secondly, I thought the fan turnout was poor and so there was no advantage. There was no home field advantage.”

Sunday’s loss dropped the Irish to No. 8 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Rankings, down from the No. 3 position. Although the loss will hurt the squad’s seeding when the NCAA Championships begin on Nov. 12, Waldrum said an early exit from the conference tournament may serve as a catalyst going forward.

“I didn’t have them ready to play,” Waldrum said. “So that’s disappointing. We’ll see. We’ll find out come the first playoff game. It’ll either wake us up or we’ll be home real early this year.”