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ND Women’s Soccer: First Place on line in Hoya matchup

By Brian Hartnett | Thursday, October 11, 2012

Riding an unbeaten streak of eight games, No. 24 Notre Dame will battle for first place in the Big East when it travels to No. 11 Georgetown on Friday. The Irish will then round out the weekend with a tough road test at Villanova on Sunday.

Last weekend, Notre Dame (10-3-2, 6-0-1 Big East) wrapped up its final home stand of the season with a win and a tie. The Irish erupted for five goals in a 5-1 victory over Seton Hall on Friday and held on to tie Rutgers 2-2 in a rainy match Sunday afternoon.

Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said he is confident his team will rebound well from its first conference tie.

“I felt that we played pretty well last weekend,” Waldrum said. “We made a couple mistakes on a wet field [against Rutgers] and got punished for it. We were really sharp in our practices this week, and the intensity level was very good.”

One key component behind Notre Dame’s success last weekend was the team’s offensive output. The Irish outshot their opponents by a 44-12 margin en route to scoring a total of seven goals over the two contests. Junior midfielder Elizabeth Tucker and freshman forward Crystal Thomas both had multi-goal games, as Tucker scored twice against Seton Hall and Thomas accounted for both of the team’s two goals against Rutgers.

Waldrum said he feels the Irish have developed a strong offensive identity, largely facilitated by the midfield trio of junior Mandy Laddish and freshmen Cari Roccaro and Glory Williams.

“[Roccaro’s] comfort level is midfield, so we moved her back there three games ago, and we’ve scored 11 goals since,” Waldrum said. “Having [Laddish, Roccaro and Williams] in midfield has created many opportunities for the forwards. We’ll take the numbers we’ve had on offense, and we feel confident that we can score.”

Notre Dame will look to keep its unbeaten streak alive when it travels to face Georgetown (12-1-2, 6-0-1) in a crucial conference showdown. With three games left in their respective conference schedules, the Irish and Hoyas are currently tied atop the National Division standings.
Waldrum said the match with the Hoyas is one the Irish have been awaiting for quite some time.

“It’s exactly the type of matchup you would hope for, since it’s two top teams battling each other late in the year,” Waldrum said. “We’ll have our hands full, since they’re very similar to us. They are very possession-oriented and there’s not much we can exploit since they’re solid all around.”

Currently enjoying its highest ranking in school history, Georgetown features a potent offense lead by standout sophomore midfielder Daphne Corboz, who is tied for first nationally in scoring with 15 goals on the season. The Hoyas have relied on a strong defensive unit and the play of redshirt freshman goalkeeper Emily Newins, who was tabbed Big East Rookie of the Week on Monday.

Notre Dame will close its weekend with a trip to Villanova (6-7-2, 4-3-0), who currently sits third in the National Division standings. After struggling to a 1-4-2 start, the Wildcats have won five of their last eight matches. Waldrum said the matchup with Villanova is the type of game that concerns him.

“I’m worried about Villanova because it’s a tough place to play, and we’ll be coming off a high-intensity game,” Waldrum said. “They’re fully capable of giving everyone [problems] in the conference a game, and we’ll really have to get the team focused once we get past Friday’s game.”

Senior forward Heidi Sabatura, who is tied for second in the conference with seven assists, leads Villanova’s offensive attack, while senior goalkeeper Kelsey Quinn has been a force for the team at the other end of the pitch.

Notre Dame will face Georgetown on Friday at 3 p.m. at North Kehoe Field in Washington, D.C., before playing Villanova on Sunday at 12 p.m. at the VU Soccer Complex in Villanova, Penn.

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