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ND Women’s Soccer

ND begins stretch run, looks to finish regular season strong

| Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Notre Dame (6-8, 2-4 ACC) will look to get its season back on track this Saturday as they travel to New York for a conference matchup against Syracuse. The Irish will need to win at least three of their remaining four games if they wish to record a winning season.

The program has struggled on the road this year, particularly in a mid-season slump during which they lost four matches in a row. The Irish first lost to Ohio State at home, then went on a winless California road trip to Stanford and Santa Clara, followed by a two-goal loss at Louisville.

Annie Smierciak | The Observer

Irish graduate student forward Karin Muya fights off a defender during Notre Dame’s 4-0 loss to Florid State on Sept. 27 at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame will close the regular season with four ACC matches. Three will be on the road, at Syracuse (3-11, 0-6 ACC), at Virginia Tech (7-4-3, 3-3 ACC) and at Pittsburgh (4-8-1, 0-6 ACC), after which point they will close play in Alumni Stadium against Duke (10-2-2, 4-1-1 ACC).

Before moving ahead to these games, the Irish will have to overcome the Orange at home. The Syracuse team is currently on a nine-game losing streak, a streak which the Irish will look to extend to 10.

The two teams have three common opponents this season — North Carolina State, North Carolina and Louisville — all of which trend favorably for the Irish. Although Notre Dame’s sole win against this trio came against the Wolfpack (9-4-2, 2-3-1 ACC), who the Irish beat 2-1 while the Orange fell 3-6, their total point differential between these three opponents was 3-5, compared to NC State’s 4-14. The Irish hope these games foreshadow the outcome of Saturday’s match.

In order to capture a win, however, Notre Dame will need to bounce back from the 3-0 loss it sustained at home this weekend against Virginia (11-2, 4-2 ACC). Although Notre Dame started this game with aggression and intensity, a goal by the Cavaliers midway through the first half left a deflated Irish offense on the field. In what seemed to be a lapse of mental toughness, Notre Dame was unable to bounce back from the early goal, and was the subject of a relentless Virginia offense for the remainder of the game.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup, the Irish could struggle for several reasons. First, it is always difficult to play on the road. So far this season, Notre Dame is 1-4 in away games, with their only win coming at Wake Forest two weeks ago. A win over the Orange, who are 1-5 at home, could be just the confidence boost the Irish need to finish the season strong.

Another source of trouble for the Irish could be Syracuse sophomore Kate Hostage, who leads the Orange with four goals and nine points on the season.

For the Irish to capture a victory, they will need to come out with competitive intensity and sustain this intensity for the full 90 minutes. Notre Dame could also use a solid performance from its leaders, graduate-student forward Karin Muya, junior forward Jennifer Westendorf and senior defenders Rachel Heard and Sabrina Flores.

If they can work as a cohesive unit this Saturday, the Irish should be able to bring home a win. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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