ND Women’s Soccer: All the right moves
Andrew Gastelum | Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Following a devastating 3-2 overtime loss to Big East rival Marquette on Sept. 25, Notre Dame had won only one of its previous six games and gave up as many goals as they scored in that stretch.
Irish coach Randy Waldrum felt something had to change for the defending champions. Yet who would have thought the right move would be to shift senior defender and third-year captain Jessica Schuveiller to the midfield after she had been a fixture on the Irish backline for the last three-and-a-half seasons.
“The move has really panned out,” Waldrum said. “Putting Jess in the midfield gives us a defensive presence there to fall back on so that we do not get too caught up in the attack and have to work our way back.”
Since the move, the Irish (7-5-3, 4-2-2 Big East) have recorded four consecutive shutouts — all over Big East opponents. And in the Big East, where five points separate first place from fourth, conference wins are all the rage.
“It was really important to get those games,” Waldrum said. “Earlier in the year, we would have lost some of those defensive struggles. It’s just a tribute to their perseverance and the way they have worked.”
Meanwhile, in her new role as midfielder, Schuveiller has scored in each of the four shutouts, all while earning Big East Defensive Player of the Week.
“I think [Schuveiller] has five goals in the last four games and the move gives her the opportunity to get more involved with the attack as well,” Waldrum said. “It really makes you think, ‘What took you so long [to make the move]?'”
The move also opened a spot for freshman defender Sammy Scofield, who has shined on the backline in tandem with senior defender Molly Campbell.
“One of the keys defensively has been Sammy. She seems very comfortable back there and it looks like she has been back there forever,” Waldrum said. “Earlier on in the year we tried to put her back there, but it just wasn’t the right time for it. She’s still a freshman and she gained the confidence back and has grown a lot.”
But Waldrum also pointed to a behind-the-scenes move as one of the causes behind the shutout streak.
“[All the coaches] brought in [junior goalkeeper] Maddie Fox and we had a really candid conversation with her about playing time and what we expected from her,” he said. “I don’t think she came into this season physically ready in her training during the offseason but she was motivated by [the talk] and she started to understand that the spot wasn’t going to be handed to her.”
Fox recorded two-straight solo shutouts on the road with a 2-0 win over Seton Hall on Friday and a 0-0 tie at Rutgers on Sunday and has settled into the role of starting goalie, according to Waldrum.
“Maddie played really well this weekend and settled into her spot and helped calm things down for us,” Waldrum said. “It all starts with her and she has really started to hit her stride and play with confidence and consistency.”
With the way his defense has performed, Waldrum remains confident in Notre Dame’s chances at the Big East title with home matches against Georgetown, Villanova and DePaul left on the regular-season schedule.
“With three more Big East games coming up they are going to be really important, but being at home will help us out,” he said. “There is no reason why we still can’t win this conference.”