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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

ND Women's Soccer: Moving Forward

Coming off its second loss of the season and first loss in the ACC, No. 5 Notre Dame faces a daunting obstacle in getting back on track in the conference when the Irish take on top-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. on Thursday night.

After a shocking 2-0 upset at hands of Miami on Sunday, the Irish (9-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC) fell to fourth in the ACC. Now, just four days later, they must try to regroup and take on the undefeated Cavaliers (12-0-0, 6-0-0 ACC). Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he thought this quick turnaround might actually help his squad.

"We watched video of [the game] on Monday and then we put it to bed," Waldrum said. "We made it a point to not drag it out and talk about all week. We had to look forward because the turnaround is so quick to prepare for Virginia. Usually we play well against good competition, so hopefully that works out for us."

After being shutout by Miami, Waldrum said his main message to the team was to start the game with a high level of focus and maintain that intensity.

"What we did in the video session on Monday was show the kids what it looked like to have such a lack of intensity and a lack of focus," Waldrum said. "I wouldn't expect us to come out that way again."

Although this is only the second regular season meeting between the Irish and the Cavaliers, the two teams faced off every preseason from 2005 to 2012. During that time, the Irish led the series 5-2-1 and gained a better knowledge of their ACC foes, Waldrum said.

"The shape of their team is a little different than ours but the style is very similar," Waldrum said. "We've played them a lot over the years in the preseason so we know them quite well."

Based off that knowledge, Waldrum said he knows Virginia will give the Irish as good a battle as they have had all year.

"They've got a really good team in general," Waldrum said. "The quality of the players is much like ours. They're good from top to bottom. There are no weaknesses on their team. The reason they're off to such a good start is that they've got a couple players that are really special. [Cavaliers junior midfielder] Morgan Brian is the leader of that group. She's a very special player. I've coached her before for the [Under 23 National team], and she's at a different level so we'll have to be conscious of where she is on the field at all times. [Cavaliers sophomore forward] MakenzyDoniak is also fast and athletic and physical. She scores a lot of goals for them, so those two are the ones that we've been keeping an eye on all week."

Before the Miami loss, the Irish had only played twice away from Alumni Stadium but had won both games, knocking off then-No. 1 North Carolina, 1-0, on their home turf and handily defeating North Carolina State, 3-1. But the environment on Thursday will be as raucous as Notre Dame has played in all season. Almost 4,000 fans are expected to come to Klöckner Stadium.

"It's just one of those things that we have to deal with when we play the competition we do," Waldrum said. "We've played in front of big crowds before. The thing we have to concern ourselves with is that the magnitude of the game doesn't change the way we play. We have to be single minded in our approach and block everything else besides the game out."

The Irish kickoff against the Cavaliers on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.

Contact Greg Hadley at