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ND Women’s Soccer

Romagnolo reflects on spring season

| Thursday, April 10, 2014

A lot can happen in three weeks.

It has been three weeks since Theresa Romagnolo was named Notre Dame’s head coach. In those 21 days, the Irish have opened their spring training camp, battled several nagging injuries and played four exhibition matches, most recently a 3-1 win against Valparaiso on Wednesday night on the men’s practice field of Notre Dame.

Irish sophomore Cari Roccaro dribbles downfield during Notre Dame's 1-0 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 19, 2013.Emily Kruse | The Observer
Irish sophomore Cari Roccaro dribbles downfield during Notre Dame’s 1-0 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 19, 2013.
“I’m finding that Notre Dame is an amazing place,” Romagnolo said. “We have all the resources and the facilities to be successful, and I’m excited about getting immersed in the training and getting to know all the girls on the team, figuring out the best way to move forward and figuring out our strengths.”

Romagnolo, who comes to Notre Dame after three seasons as the head coach at Dartmouth and three more as an assistant coach at Stanford, was immediately thrown into the action, as the Irish played Marquette on March 22 in Milwaukee, Wis., just three days after she was formally introduced.

Against the Golden Eagles, the Irish, who averaged more than 19 shots per game in the fall, recorded only eight shots. The Irish defense, which allowed .873 goals per game last season, surrendered an 80th-minute goal to Eagles freshman defender Lisa Roman that proved to be the decisive score of the 1-0 game.

“I think there’s a lot of potential … and a lot of talent,” Romagnolo said. “We’re still trying to figure out how to get the girls in the right position to get the most out of that potential. There’s a great defensive core on the team, and we return a lot of the attackers as well. Something I’ve talked with them about already is continuing to increase our defensive pressure and intensity and bringing more quality into the attacking third.”

On defense, Notre Dame is led by rising junior Katie Naughton, who was elected by her teammates to serve as a team captain in the fall. Romagnolo said she has already noticed the leadership role that Naughton fills for the Irish.

“Katie Naughton has done a great job in the back line, just showing great leadership and great possession out of the back,” she said.

The Irish reversed the score from their first exhibition two weeks later against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Rising senior forward Lauren Bohaboy scored in the 39th minute, picking up where she left off in the fall, when she tied for the team lead in goals with seven. That single strike proved to be enough for the Irish to take their first victory of the spring.

“Lauren has done a great job on the front line to create opportunities for us,” Romagnolo said. “[Rising senior defender] Taylor Schneider has also done a very good job. She’s had to play a couple different positions this spring but she’s gone from center back to outside back and she’s done a lot of quality defense and shown the ability to build out of the back.”

Switching positions has been a common theme this spring for Notre Dame, as the Irish have been plagued by injuries up and down the roster, and players have been forced to fill in where they can. Rising junior midfielder Cari Roccaro, who played both defender and forward last season, has continued to be a jack-of-all-trades for Romagnolo, playing center midfielder, defensive midfielder and forward.

“[The injuries] don’t concern me,” Romagnolo said. “It’s more disappointing that I haven’t seen everyone healthy so that I could get a great take on the team. So we’ve had to move people around a lot and try to figure out what their best positions are while still making sure that we’ve got the strongest 11 on the field.”

Notre Dame has certainly challenged itself this spring, also battling the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League. The Irish held the Red Stars scoreless in the first half but let up two goals in the second to fall 2-0 in Alumni Stadium. Despite the loss, Romagnolo said she is impressed with the high standards to which her players hold themselves.

“I think it’s exciting to coach players whose expectation is to make it to the College Cup,” she said. “It’s also an athletic department where the standard for success is at the highest level, where national championships are always the goal. It’s a great environment to be in.”

The Irish have the next two weeks off, before they return to action April 23 in an international matchup against Haiti’s national team in Alumni Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg