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



Track and Field: Distance relay team to compete at Nationals

Megan Golden | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Although the No. 3 Irish had some fans on the edge of their seats due to their defensive miscommunication last weekend, they remain confident in their ability to work together and adjust to any challenges that obstruct their vision of a national title.

Senior defenseman Kevin Ridgway pointed to communication as a key for the Irish (3-0) to rebound from their defensive struggles and extend their winning streak against No. 14 Denver (3-1) Saturday.

“We were a little loose on our communication this weekend, which led to little spurts of the other team scoring goals. We need to fix up the areas that we were kind of loose on,” Ridgway said. “When we’re playing defense, we communicate our roles. We have a number of words we have to use, and if that vernacular breaks down, then there’s a little bit of confusion of the roles we’re supposed to be playing at that certain point.”

Senior long-stick midfielder and co-captain Andrew Irving said there is always room for improving the team’s communication.

“We’ve been one of the best teams in the country because of communication; everyone buys into it, and everyone knows our signs and our calls,” he said. “It’s definitely something to work on. You can never have too much communication. We have to continue to talk.”

Irving said the team is confident in their ability to win games — as long as they realize the games are not over until the final buzzer sounds.

“I think we’re a very confident team this year,” he said. “We learned from last year that we don’t win a game in the first quarter, and it takes four quarters and sometimes even overtime to win a game.”

The Pioneers have a number of Canadian players on their roster, which contributes to a significantly different playing style than what Notre Dame is used to facing.

“They’re usually more one-handed, and they’re comfortable doing things with their backs to the net that other players aren’t comfortable doing,” Ridgway said.

The offense has had many scoring opportunities, but Irving said the Irish look to improve the location of their shots on goal in Denver.

“Our offense has gotten a lot of good looks at the cage in the first three games,” Irving said. “It’s a question of really bearing down and shooting at the right place and putting the ball in the net. We took a lot of shots, and we missed the cage, and that’s the final piece.”

Despite recording victories against three talented opponents, Ridgway said the Irish were not resting on their undefeated record. He said the team has high hopes for something greater than last season, and they are not finished fighting for their goal.

“I think everyone’s pretty happy being 3-0, especially because of the win this weekend without [senior midfielder] Zach [Brenneman]. It shows guys can step up and score,” Ridgway said. “We can’t get complacent; we were here last year, and we lost. Everyone has the same goal, and that is to win. It’s just a matter of staying hungry throughout the whole season because it’s a long season.”

The Irish take the field in Denver at 7 p.m. on Saturday.