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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame takes on No. 11 UNC in home stretch of ACC play

| Thursday, October 13, 2016

On Friday night at Alumni Stadium, No. 20 Notre Dame will take on conference foe No. 11 North Carolina as each team looks to improve upon its current standing in the ACC.

Last time out for the Irish (9-2-3, 4-1-1 ACC), the team suffered its first loss since late August, a stretch that spanned 10 games, as No. 5 Virginia picked up a 1-0 victory at Alumni Stadium. The lone goal came on a penalty kick in the 60th minute that the Irish were unable to overcome, allowing the Cavaliers to escape with a win. Notre Dame currently holds second place in the conference standings despite the loss, and overall, Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo wasn’t disappointed with her team’s performance.

“I think we played well and did a good job of staying disciplined,” Romagnolo said. “I know the team is excited to get back out on the field and we have a big opponent Friday, so we’ll have a chance to redeem ourselves. It gives us a chance to take out our frustration on another opponent.”

Freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf fights for a ball Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Virginia on Sunday. Grace Tourville | The Observer
Freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf fights for a ball Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Virginia on Sunday.

The story of the season to this point for Notre Dame has been strong defense. Coming into the Virginia game, the Irish were in the top three in the conference in goals allowed, goals against average and shutouts. On offense, however, things have not come as easily to the Irish, and Romagnolo recognizes the need for her team to make some adjustments before taking on the Tar Heels (8-1-3, 3-1-2).

“We want to work on getting better when it comes to playing under pressure from the opponent. We want to improve our control on the ball and be able to control more of the game because defensively, we have been solid in limiting opportunities,” Romagnolo said. “Our focus is offensively and how do we keep the ball out of tough areas and how do we create more opportunities so we can take control of the game.”

Looking beyond the tough contest on Friday, the Irish will have a pair of games during fall break. Both will take place on the road, as the team heads to Virginia Tech next Friday and Wake Forest that Sunday. The Hokies (10-4-1, 2-3-1) and Demon Deacons (8-6-0, 0-6-0) are each below .500 in conference play, with a number of teams sitting between them and Notre Dame in the conference standings.

As a team sitting at second in ACC play, Notre Dame is reaching a crucial stretch that will determine what kind of position the Irish are in as postseason play gets underway in just a couple of weeks. However, Romagnolo maintains that her team is not worried about the future and is staying focused on the next opponent in front of them.

“We aren’t looking ahead of North Carolina and we’re just taking it one day at a time and focusing on preparing for Friday,” Romagnolo said. “Every game is important and we want to continue to grow as a group and get better. The standings aren’t something we can control, so we just have to focus on controlling what we do. We want to continue to be strong defensively and show composure on the ball and give ourselves better offensive chances. There is a lot ahead of us and things change, so we’re just looking to take care of North Carolina on Friday.”

The game on Friday kicks off at 7 p.m. as Notre Dame looks to hit fall break on a high note with a win against another highly ranked opponent before going on the road for next week’s pair of contests.

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