While Notre Dame was winning its first two games last weekend, two of its players were 8000 miles away, playing for their country.And, thanks to Team USA's 4-1 win over Germany Sunday, sophomores Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew will stay in Russia - competing in the Under-20 World Championships - until next week.
With the victory over the Germans, the United States advanced to the semifinals, where it will face China Thursday. Brazil will play North Korea in the other semifinal, also on Thursday.
Back in South Bend, the sophomores' teammates are rooting for them.
"Germany was supposed to be a really hard match," said freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer. "Everyone is happy for [Bock and Dew] because they've worked really hard. [Our] team is so close we're not going to make it weird or anything [when they return]. We're going to welcome them with open arms."
The semifinal winners will square off Sunday night for the title, while the losers will play Sunday afternoon for third place, which means whether the U.S. squad beats the Chinese or not, the Irish will be without the two starters for this weekend's games against Southern California and Santa Clara. Bock and Dew are expected to return to the Irish lineup Sept. 8 against TCU.
"When they come [back] its going to be amazing because they have so much to give to the team," Weissenhofer said.
While playing without two starters has forced changes to the Irish lineup, senior captain Kim Lorenzen said the extra opportunities for other players will help later in the season.
"Right now we're just trying to figure out who we have healthy right now and where they're going to play and we'll have to figure it out when [Bock and Dew] get back," Lorenzen said. "It's exciting knowing we have so many options.
Lorenzen said Bock and Dew will have to make an adjustment transitioning from their U.S. coaches and teammates to coach Randy Waldrum and the Irish, but that it shouldn't be a major problem.
"I think coming back to any team should be an adjustment especially not playing with any of the freshman," Lorenzen said. "It will be exciting to have them coming back to our team and figuring out where people will move position-wise because we have a lot of talent."
The Trojans, Notre Dame's opponent Friday, will also be missing a player from the U.S. team. Forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored a goal against the Germans, will not return the USC lineup until Sept. 8, when the Trojans face Drake.
While Bock and Dew have kept on-line diaries, their teammates have had little other contact with them.
"I don't know if anyone's talked to them," Weissenhofer said. "They're kind of hard to get a hold of because they're ... in Russia."
Bock and Dew both started the game against Germany. Dew played the whole contest and Bock subbed early in the second half.
The Southern California game will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alumni Field. The Irish and Broncos will kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Field.