Irish look to continue eight-game unbeaten streak vs. Louisville
Tobias Hoonhout | Thursday, September 29, 2016
Coming off their best offensive performance of the year, the No. 18-ranked Irish travel to Louisville this weekend for a battle atop the ACC.
The Irish (7-1-3, 2-0-1 ACC) opened the flood gates on Pittsburgh on Sunday, putting four past the Panthers, and Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo is hoping her team can keep that going against Louisville when the Irish face the Cardinals on Saturday.
“I think we just need to keep getting better at being us,” Romagnolo said. “It doesn’t have much to do with Louisville; I think it has to do with us continuing to move the ball well, to trust each other with passing the ball, continuing to move off the ball for each other so that we can get a good passing rhythm and then got a lot of opportunities, and look to set people up to go to goal. I think we were playing a lot of great crosses and making a lot of great hard runs into the box on Sunday, so just to continue to get that going.”
Louisville (7-2-2, 2-0-1) is unbeaten in its past four games, including a come-from-behind win against Boston College and a stout defensive display against No. 12 Duke. The Cardinals and the Irish are among the five teams tied for first in the ACC, so Romagnolo is not taking them lightly.
“I mean they’re a tough game — I think there’s no easy game in the ACC,” Romagnolo said. “I think they do a great job of getting numbers behind the ball; I watched a bit of the Duke game and Duke had trouble getting through them, so they do a good job of being very organized, so we’ll have to be patient and move the ball well and look for the right gaps in order to find them and face them. They already beat [Boston College] and Pitt and they tied Duke, so they’re obviously coming into the game with a good amount of confidence and belief, so it’s going to be two teams that are undefeated in the ACC.”
While Louisville has been enjoying success, so have the Irish. Sunday’s win at home against Pittsburgh continued Notre Dame’s eight-game unbeaten run and the offense had four different players on the score sheet. Senior captain Kaleigh Olmsted led the Irish with a goal and an assist, freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf scored another to bring her tally to five on the year, and juniors Kaitlin Klawunder and Karin Muya also scored.
The defense, led by senior captain and goalie Kaela Little, was once again strong, bringing the Irish clean sheet total to eight on the year, and Romagnolo credits the senior leadership and the work during the week to the recent success of the Irish.
“I think it just has the excitement of it being [Little’s] last season and wanting to give it everything she’s got,” Romagnolo said. “She’s an extremely athletic and talented goalkeeper and we’re seeing what she can do. I think we’re also seeing the consistency of it now, so it’s just been really exciting for all of us to see her on the field and healthy and continuing to grow in that position and her leadership. … I think we’re growing every game. We do video every Tuesday to review where we’re at offensively and defensively, and this week we’re focusing on a little bit of everything. We’re continuing to move the ball well in practice, and two-touch rhythm, and we’re doing a lot of finishing, offensive patterns.”
The Irish play at Louisville on Saturday night, with kickoff at 7 p.m.