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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame set to start conference play against Syracuse

| Friday, September 16, 2016

This Sunday, No. 20 Notre Dame will head to upstate New York to take on Syracuse in the first game of conference play for the Irish.

The last time these two teams faced off was last season when the Irish (5-1-2) were able to secure a 1-0 victory in the early October matchup. This season, Syracuse (6-1-1) is coming off three consecutive victories before taking on both Buffalo and Notre Dame this weekend. The Irish, on the other hand, are coming back from a West coast trip that saw two ties — a 0-0 result against Santa Clara and a 2-2 draw against Stanford, currently ranked as the No. 1 women’s soccer team in the nation.

Irish sophomore defender Rachel Heard clears the ball during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Missouri at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 4.Lauren Weetman | The Observer
Irish sophomore defender Rachel Heard clears the ball during
Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Missouri at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 4.

Regarding her team’s recent performance, Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said she was pleased, especially with the draw versus Stanford.

“I think it was a good weekend for us,” Romagnolo said. “We took away a lot of confidence from what we were able to achieve out there. Overall, I thought that we defended well, and, especially in the Stanford game, I thought we attacked well and created a lot of good chances throughout the game.

“I’m excited about the way we continue to grow as a team. If you look back at where we started on Aug. 3, we’ve come a long way and our goal is to continue to make those steps forward every day we get out here on the practice field and every chance we have to play a game. We want to just keep focusing on growing as a team.”

Notre Dame’s lone loss on the season came from an upset by unranked rival Michigan, 2-0. Since the loss, the Irish have gone 3-0-2 and throughout that stretch, Romagnolo said she has seen some very promising play out of her team.

“On the whole, I think that we’ve defended really well,” Romagnolo said. “There’s been good organization and offensively, we’ve been able to get into a rhythm in spurts, and I think we’re going to look to keep that chemistry going. Moving forward, we want to continue to create a lot of opportunities for ourselves and be aggressive in the right areas of the field. We also want to stress connecting with each other, which is something we’ve stressed all week in an effort to create more opportunities.”

However, Romagnolo also said there are some aspects of the team’s play that could be improved, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.

“We are still working on creating better offensive chances for ourselves with effort being put on finding each other more on the attack and supporting each other more,” Romagnolo said. “Really, the biggest thing for us is making sure the player with the ball is maximizing our options with her touches and players off the ball are creating better supporting angles.”

Romagnolo also said the team is striving for a positive attitude, as her team enters ACC play.

“Every game we play in has to be about us and what we’re bringing to the table,” Romagnolo said. “I’m looking for us to defend really well and to create offensive chances and convert on those opportunities. In this game in particular, we aren’t looking too closely at any individual matchups. It’s more about us collectively asserting our will on the game.”

The game Sunday kicks off at noon and marks the first of 10 straight conference games for Notre Dame before postseason action begins.

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