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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame prepares for first round test against IUPUI

Notre Dame had close to two weeks off since its 4-1 loss to North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC tournament; the Irish had previously beaten the Wolfpack 4-0 earlier in the season.

The Wolfpack and the Irish headed into halftime in Raleigh, North Carolina, tied up at 0-0, but Notre Dame’s goal in the 61st minute gave the squad a 1-0 lead. However, the Wolfpack finished on top and advanced to the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

On Monday, Notre Dame earned a bid to the NCAA championship and faces IUPUI in the first round on Saturday evening at Alumni Stadium. This is Notre Dame’s 25th consecutive appearance in the tournament, and the team is seeking to redeem itself after last year’s first-round defeat, courtesy of SIU-Edwardsville.

IUPUI earned a spot in the NCAAs automatically after claiming the title in their league. The Jaguars are coming off of an emotional 1-0 win in penalty kicks against undefeated Milwaukee to earn top spot in the Horizon League Championship. Jaguars goalie sophomore Sophia Lipka rejected all 17 shots on goal in regulation and received All-Tournament Team MVP.

This is the second time that the two teams will meet, with the first time being in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament when the Irish toppled the Jaguars 5-0. South Bend native and IUPUI’s junior forward Denise Veldman returns to the field this game after being injured.

Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo reflected on the time off and viewed it as a positive for the squad in order to go into the tournament as prepared as possible.

“We have been working on a lot,” Romagnolo said. “We have had two weeks since our last game, so we have gotten a lot of practice in. It’s been really productive. We have been able to work on our system, work on defending as a group, get a little bit sharper on the attack and set pieces. We have had a nice two weeks and we have just had a lot of time to refine ourselves.”

Romagnolo explained the importance of focusing on the coming game rather than getting lost looking too far ahead.

“I definitely like the team to focus on one game at a time,” Romagnolo said. “You really can’t look beyond the next game at this point because if you lose, you’re out. We have to focus on beating IUPUI, we have to focus on being great on Saturday — being relentless on attack and stopping their attack. We have our long-term goal, but we have to take care of each step along the way.”

Romagnolo named “focus” as the main item she hopes the team will bring into Saturday’s game, because focus can lead to consistency and relentless pursuit.

“I want a strong focus for each game,” Romagnolo said. “There’s a lot of really exciting things about this team: we can defend really well, attack really well, and score goals. We need to do it consistently and, in order to do that, we need to make sure we maintain our focus for however long that game is and just stay clued in and be relentless in our determination.”

In response to how the IUPUI goalie, Veldman, had an impressive previous game, Romagnolo pointed out that the Irish see strong goalies in the ACC and looks for her team to create opportunities.

“We play against good goalkeepers all year round in our ACC play,” Romagnolo said. “Credit to IUPUI because they’ve created their own luck and found a way to get results in previous games, but now we need to create our own luck when they come to South Bend. We need to make sure that we don’t give [Veldman] an opportunity to look good.”

The Irish take on the Jaguars Saturday at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.