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ND Women’s Soccer: Big East road tests await

Matthew Robison | Friday, September 28, 2012

Notre Dame travels to the Northeast this weekend with a pair of Big East road matchups against Providence on Friday and Connecticut on Sunday.

Coming off two big wins last weekend over Pittsburgh and Oakland, the Irish (7-3-1, 3-0-0 Big East), have an important weekend ahead of them, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said.

“I think we’re working toward [our midseason stride],” Waldrum said. “I think we’ll know a little bit more, probably, after this weekend. Going on the road in the Big East for the first time, I think if we can get through this weekend and get a couple of wins, then I think we might be in the stride that we want to be in at this point in time.

“It might be a little bit early to say we’re in full stride right now. But we’re awfully close.”

The Irish shutout the Huskies (6-4-1, 2-2-0) and the Friars (7-4-1, 2-2-0) in a pair of 3-0 wins in Alumni Stadium last year, but playing on the road is a different beast. The Irish expect rain in both games, Waldrum said.

“With the field conditions at Providence and their style of play, I think that’s going to make it really tough for us,” Waldrum said.

The Friars had won six straight before dropping two on the road to No. 14 Georgetown and Villanova. The Huskies, meanwhile, have lots of history with the Irish.

“With Connecticut, [we have] a history of two of the best teams in the conference for the past 15 years that I’ve been here,” Waldrum said. “They’ve gotten two early losses so I think they’re going to be a very desperate team.”

As a young team, Notre Dame has taken its lumps in the early going. After starting the year 3-1, the Irish dropped two of their next three and tied in double overtime in the third. But since then, they have won four straight.

“Obviously getting the four wins in a row and starting out undefeated in the Big East – that’s kind of getting back to the norm that we have with the program,” Waldrum said. “That’s kind of the expectation.”

Early in the year, there was some uncertainty in the lineup as players had to fill new roles. The team was also without one of its top freshmen, midfielder Cari Roccaro, and junior tricaptain midfielder Mandy Laddish. But with the midfield shored up and momentum on their side, the Irish are finally moving ahead.

“The team seems to be confident about their play now,” Waldrum said. “There’s a difference of stepping on the field and hoping to win and stepping on the field expecting to win. I think we’re getting closer to getting to that ‘expecting to win’ mentality. That’s what we want them to have. I think we’re gaining some confidence. This will be a big weekend moving forward with that.”

The Irish take on the Friars today in Providence, R.I., at 3 p.m. and the Huskies on Sunday in Storrs, Conn., at noon.

Contact Matt Robison at [email protected]