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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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The Observer

Women's Soccer: Team faces Beavers in Sweet 16

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After advancing to the round of 16 in the College Cup for the sixth year in a row and 14th time in program history, No. 5 Notre Dame is hoping that their title hopes aren't dammed up by the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers (14-7-1, 4-5-0) enter their third-round game against the Irish after pulling off consecutive upsets in the first round against host Ohio State and third-seeded Florida in the second round. The Beavers 3-1 win over the Buckeyes last Friday was the program's first victory in NCAA Tournament history. Their 1-0 win against the Gators came on a golden goal in the 99th minute by sophomore midfielder Melinda Ingalls. Although Oregon State enters its matchup with Notre Dame with Cinderella aspirations, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he doesn't think that his team has to prepare any differently than they normally would at this stage of the NCAA Tournament. "I don't think you prepare for them any different anyone," Waldrum said. "Whoever you play in this round has won two straight games. I don't view it as you have to treat them differently because at this point in time, everyone is good." The Beavers are led on offense by freshman forward Chelsea Buckland, who leads the team with seven goals. On defense, sophomore Colleen Boyd and senior Ashley Wood have split time in goal, but Boyd has played well in Oregon State's last three wins, including the two NCAA Tournament wins. Despite injury concerns entering the tournament, the Irish turned in dominant performances against IUPUI and Central Michigan in the first and second rounds, outscoring their opponents by a combined scored of 11-1 for the weekend. Waldrum said his team is trying to build on the positives from both games to stay hot on both ends of the field. "I think what we do is we try to pick out the positives from both games, and just because we scored 11 goals last weekend doesn't mean we'll score that much this weekend," Waldrum said. "We just try to do what we did well last weekend in practice, just like we do on the other side of the ball. I just look at last weekend like we did what we needed to do, and if we do things like we did to prepare last weekend we'll be fine." On the injury front, Waldrum expects that many of his injured players, including seniors Haley Ford and Michelle Weissenhofer and junior Rose Augustin, should be able to play. "I think we came out last weekend in good shape," Waldrum said. "Ford and Weissenhofer both played a lot last weekend, and I think they're both doing well. Augustin sat out last weekend more as a precaution, and she played Sunday and did well with it, so we should be in good shape this weekend." The Irish and Beavers are set to kickoff at Alumni Stadium tonight at 7:30 p.m.


The Observer

ND Women's Soccer: Augustin helps Irish advance

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The Notre Dame offense couldn't get much going Friday night against a tough Oregon State defense, but junior Rose Augustin's blast in the 62nd minute was all they would need. Sophomore Melissa Henderson slid a pass into the penalty box that found a wide-open Augustin who calmly one-touched a shot past the Beavers keeper, giving the No. 5/6 Irish (20-3-1) a 1-0 victory over the Beavers (14-8-1) at Alumni Stadium. "In games like these, you either play afraid of losing or someone has to step up to the plate and take all the chances," Irish coach Randy Waldrum said of the goal. "I thought Henderson did that at the right time for us tonight." The Beavers dominated play in the first half, keeping up constant pressure on the Irish end, but failing to breakthrough with a go-ahead goal. "I think in the first half they were clearly the better team," Waldrum said. "They dominated play because we really struggled to match up in the middle." The Irish came out in the second half determined to bounce back. "We knew we had to pick up our strength and determination," Augustin said. "If we didn't come out better in the second half, we weren't going to win." After a few personnel changes, Notre Dame flipped the momentum by forcing the issue on offense. Henderson had a field day down the right side, creating a number of chances, including a set up of the game-winner. "Henderson was a handful for them on both sides," Waldrum said. "Her pace was just too much for them to handle. She was the player of the match for us tonight." Irish goalkeeper Nikki Weiss was solid again in net, turning away four shots including one from close range with just minutes remaining to conserve her first career solo shutout in the NCAA tournament. "I thought we did a better job controlling the game after the goal," Waldrum said. "They threw everything at us trying to get a goal and we dodged some bullets at the end." The final opportunity of the game for Oregon State came off a free-kick from near midfield that ricocheted around the penalty area before finding its way to an open Beaver player. With the defense closing in, the shot was hurried and didn't have enough power to sneak by Weiss, who tracked it the whole way. With the win, the Irish advance to face top-seeded Florida State in the regional final Nov. 27 in Tallahassee, Fla. The Seminoles knocked off a feisty Texas A&M squad 2-1 in double overtime Friday night. Next weekend's matchup with the Seminoles will mark the fourth consecutive year the two teams have met in the NCAA tournament. The Irish are 2-1 in those matches, including last year's 2-0 victory in the quarterfinals.


The Observer

ND Volleyball: Regular-season champs try for tournament win

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No. 23 Notre Dame is already the Big East regular season champion, but this weekend it will look to be crowned at the conference tournament as well.  "Definitely one of our big goals at the beginning of the season was to win the Big East tournament," senior captain and outside hitter Christina Kaelin said. The top-seeded Irish (20-4, 14-0 Big East) begin the Big East tournament this afternoon against No. 8-seed Seton Hall (12-18, 6-8), which they defeated 3-1 during the regular season. The Irish bring a 14-game win streak into the tournament after going undefeated in conference play. Their regular-season success, as well as the Big East title, gives them protection for the NCAA tournament — even if they were to stumble in the conference tournament, the Irish are almost assured a spot in the national race. "Even if we were to drop the games, which we're not going to," senior captain and outside hitter Jamel Nicholas said, "going as the regular season Big East champs, if something were to happen in the tournament it wouldn't matter." The Pirates qualified for the tournament in their last game of the season with an upset win over West Virginia. It is their first postseason appearance since 1994. Seton Hall is a young team, composed almost completely of freshmen and sophomores. This contrasts with Notre Dame, which is stacked with veterans. However, the Pirates were one of only seven Big East teams that won a set against the Irish when they played earlier in the season. The top eight teams in the conference were invited to the tournament and all will play today. The semifinals will be played tomorrow and the finals will be on Sunday. If Notre Dame wins today, it will face the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 4-seed Louisville and No. 5-seed Syracuse. Notre Dame has won nine conference tournament titles since joining the Big East in 1995. However, its last tournament win came in 2005, before any current players were on the squad. The match against Seton Hall begins today at 3:30 p.m. If the Irish continue onward, the semifinal game will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and the championship will be Sunday at 3 p.m. The games will all be held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. Nicholas had one explanation of Notre Dame's strategy. "Keep winning. Keep going," she said.


The Observer

Men's Soccer: Sent packing

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Seven hundred thirty minutes and 57 seconds. That's how long the Irish had played without a lead before senior forward Bright Dike scored a goal Thursday in the 28th minute of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The goal, off an assist from freshman midfielder Dillon Powers, put Notre Dame (11-7-4) up 1-0 over Green Bay (14-3-3), as the Irish went on to defeat the Phoenix 2-1 at Alumni Stadium. They now advance to the second round and will play No. 9-seed Northwestern (10-4-4) Sunday. "It's nice to have a lead," Irish coach Bobby Clark said. "But it's also every bit as nerve wracking." The Irish controlled the game for most of the first half, moving the ball up with short passes that pressed the whole midfield into the Phoenix half of the field. After Dike's goal, however, the game took on a much faster pace. The Phoenix, faced with elimination, removed a midfielder in the second half in favor of an extra forward. "It was an exciting game," Clark said. "I mean, this is the great thing about NCAA, if you lose you go home. … There's no safety net of weak play that you'll have a game next week. It's all or nothing." Green Bay's strategy led to increased chances for both teams, and the Irish took advantage of it first with a goal by senior forward Jeb Brovsky in the 66th minute. Brovsky's shot, off an assist from senior midfielder Justin Morrow, came from three feet outside of the box, but Phoenix goalie Ryan Wehking guessed wrong and was unable to track it down. Notre Dame did not have time to celebrate its 2-0 advantage, however, as Green Bay forward Tony Walls struck just 90 seconds later with a goal by tipping a pass from midfielder JC Banks into the back of the net to make it 2-1. "That's a kick in the stomach, that one, for sure," Clark said. "We got the goal, you relax, say now if we can hold that for a couple minutes and settle down, we can go home and put our feet up. But it wasn't that way. We gave up a goal right away, and they came out revitalized." From that point, the Phoenix controlled the ball and put consistent pressure on the Irish defense. They took 14 shots in the second half compared to just four in the first. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn made five saves on the night, including one in the 90th minute that ended the game. In the last minute of play, Green Bay had the ball in the Irish penalty box twice only to have it cleared out by defenders. The second clearing, by sophomore defender Aaron Maund, gave the Phoenix a corner kick with just 10 seconds remaining. The kick was headed straight into the goal, but Quinn saved it to give the Irish the victory. "Quinny played well today," Clark said, though he declined to comment on which goalkeeper, Quinn or senior Andrew Tuttle, will play in Sunday's game. The two have split time evenly this season. Sunday's game will be a rematch of the 2008 NCAA second round, when Northwestern defeated Notre Dame 2-1 at Alumni Field. The Irish defeated the Wildcats 1-0 in an exhibition game on Aug. 24. Clark said last season's result would not have an effect on Sunday's game. "You can't rewrite history," he said. "You can make history this year. I think we'll try to make our own history with this team. That was last year's team. What we did in the past will never affect what we do in the future. What we do on Sunday is what will be the key feature." The second round of the NCAA Tournament will begin Sunday at 2 p.m in Evanston, Ill. The winner will go on to play the winner of St. Louis and No. 8-seed Tulsa on Nov. 29.



The Observer

Audio: Check out the Irish Insider Podcast

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Observer beat writers Bill Brink, Michael Bryan, Matt Gamber and Sam Werner preview Notre Dame's Senior Day matchup with Connecticut Saturday. Listen in at www.ndsmcobserver.com/podcast-1.113/irishinsiderpodcast


The Observer

Men's Basketball: Second-half surge propels squad to win over Long Beach St.

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After a close first half that saw 12 lead changes and the Irish clinging to a two-point lead, Notre Dame came out hot in the second half and was able to overcome an athletic Long Beach State 82-62. "It was kind of like a Big East game in the first half," senior forward Luke Harangody said. "They were hitting shots and getting in the lane. In the second half we came out, and we were aware that we were the better team, and when we needed to put them away, we did." Harangody led the Irish with 29 points and 12 rebounds over a team-high 37 minutes, but it was senior Ben Hansbrough that sparked the Irish out of the break, scoring seven points and adding two assists during Notre Dame's 17-6 to start the second half, a lead which they held throughout the rest of the game. "I told [Hansbrough] at halftime," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "I said, ‘We're going to run the first thing for you. I want you to curl it and get to the basket right away.' We just wanted to see if we could get him going. Luckily he gets in there and gets a bucket and now he's starting to feel part of it. His drives are really important for us; that's an important thing in our offense now." Hansbrough finished the game with 11 points and a team-high seven assists, and was one of five Irish players to record double-digit points. He went down twice during the game, first after a hard fall while going up for a rebound, and then later after rolling his ankle, but was able to recover, playing 34 minutes for the Irish. "Hansbrough is like one of the hybrid Cadillac trucks — he brings it all," senior point guard Tory Jackson said. "He can drive, but also he's a guy that can spread the floor, so when I drive, I can kick it out to him and get my assists. He's a great shooter, so having him to be in that attack mode early like he was today, and kind of get me into a rhythm to take shots, it keeps my confidence going. He set the bar today, driving to the hole, getting fouled, getting rebounds. He set the bar high, and having him as that other guide is very good for me." Jackson scored 13 for the Irish and added three steals, but it is his role as orchestrator of the offense that will make him so crucial for Notre Dame as the season progresses. "I talked to [Jackson] about just keeping it really simple," Brey said. "He doesn't have to make high degree of difficulty plays, just orchestrate the team. When he's playing like that, he's really a key for us, and I've tried to reinforce that for him. He hasn't forced things, he's anchored us defensively, and he's really a great voice in the huddles out there when I can't be in them. We have to keep that going, and that's really important for us, but I sure like the rhythm he's in." Long Beach State struggled to shoot the ball consistently throughout the game, shooting 41 percent from field goal range on the night. The 49ers' two leading scorers, sophomores Larry Anderson and T.J. Robinson, paced the team with 20 and 16 points, respectively, but the rest of the team shot just 26 percent for the game, which kept them at a distance from Notre Dame in the second half. "The difference in the game was them coming out in the second half and turning up the pressure, and us not being able to handle it," 49ers' coach Dan Monson said. "I'm disappointed in how we responded at halftime. In the locker room, I said, ‘You're going to have to stand up to them because they're going to come at you,' and to let them score the first six times to start the second half and just take control of the game that easily was the most disappointing thing." Junior Tim Abromaitis also stepped up for the Irish, scoring 11 points off the bench in 22 minutes of play. He has scored double-digits in each of Notre Dame's first three games this season. "[Abromaitis] continues to be big for us," Brey said. "He had some big, in-traffic rebounds, and he continues to make big shots and we need him to do that. His teammates, especially the seniors, started the process this summer. They knew how much we needed him and they stayed on him hard." Notre Dame will look to keep up their momentum with two home games against Liberty and Kennesaw State before travelling to the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, Ill. for the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Nov. 27 and 28. "This has been good to have the uniforms on every other day, and really evaluate who we are, and who guys are and trying to develop some identity," Brey said. "We're trying to get better each game, just trying not to get ahead of ourselves, and we have two more games to try and improve on some things before we head over to Chicago for the [Chicago Invitational Challenge]."


The Observer

ND Women's Basketball: ND beats Michigan State

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With the game tied and just seconds to play, the Irish had three chances to take the lead and the third time proved to be the charm. Senior guard Ashley Barlow's free throw with just 10 seconds remaining put No. 5 Notre Dame in front, and the Irish held on for a narrow 68-67 victory over No. 21 Michigan State Thursday night in East Lansing, Mich. "It was just a huge, smart play and [Barlow] came up big for us there," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "She did a great job to go after the ball on the miss and was able to make the free throw in a high-pressure situation." The Spartans (1-2) had a chance to grab the lead with 12 seconds to go, but Michigan State center Allyssa DeHaan's layup attempt rolled off the rim and Irish guard Lindsey Schrader grabbed the rebound before being fouled. Schrader went to the line but missed the front end of a one-and-one as the game remained tied at 67. As luck would have it, the rebound fell through the hands of DeHaan and right to into the arms of Barlow, who was immediately fouled on her put-back attempt. After another missed Irish free throw, Barlow stepped up and converted her second opportunity and put Notre Dame ahead for good. The Spartans drove down the court but could not convert on a desperation attempt with four seconds to go. Barlow led the Irish (2-0) with 18 points and seven rebounds behind 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins added nine for the Irish, who shot 22-of-65, or 34 percent from the floor as a team. After holding a slim advantage for much of the first half, the Irish pulled away to take a 41-33 lead into halftime. Notre Dame pushed that lead to 45-35 early in the second half before Michigan State responded with a 15-2 run to go ahead with 11:52 remaining. "We just stopped guarding them," McGraw said. "We had a few defensive breakdowns and they had a few easy open shots. We panicked a little bit, but we were able to regroup when we needed to." The Spartans held their largest lead of the game at 56-51 before the Irish surged back in front with an 8-0 run with just under nine minutes to play. Despite giving up a big size advantage to the Spartan front court, led by the 6-foot-9 DeHaan, the Irish held their own on the boards and were outrebounded by a slim margin, 45-44. Schrader was a big reason for that, pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with 12 points. "Schrader and Barlow did a nice job rebounding for us," McGraw said. "But I wasn't happy with the rest of the team. We missed a lot of box-outs tonight and we should have done better." Notre Dame had a much better night in the turnover department, improving upon its performance in the first game of the season. The Irish turned the ball over just 17 times after committing 27 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, while forcing 21 Spartan turnovers. "[We cut down on the turnovers] a little bit, but we still had some really bad ones," McGraw said. DeHaan, despite facing a number of Irish double teams throughout the night, led the Spartans with 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Lykendra Johnson added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Michigan State in the loss. "I was a little disappointed [in our defense against DeHaan] in that she had a season high and she really hadn't played well in their first two games," McGraw said. Notre Dame returns home to face Iona Sunday at the Purcell Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.



The Observer

Men's Soccer: ND hosts first round match

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The Irish will play host to Green Bay as they suit up for the first round of the NCAA tournament today at Alumni Stadium. No. 19 Notre Dame (10-7-4) received an at-large bid after finishing the season with a string of wins and ties against strong opponents, good enough to grab a spot after fearing late in the season that it possibly could be left out. "We are where we thought we would be," Irish coach Bobby Clark said. "If we had won the Big East then maybe we would have gotten a first-round bye, but that's where we are, a home round, and that is good." The Irish finished the season with some momentum, defeating then-No. 5 Connecticut in the last game of the regular season before tying No. 8 South Florida, No. 9 Louisville and No. 24 St. John's in a run to the Big East tournament finals. All three Big East tournament games came down to a penalty shootout, with the Irish winning the first two before falling to St. John's in the championship match. The Irish hope that this good competition and gritty play will translate into the NCAA tournament. "We played a really strong schedule, there is no doubt about that," Clark said. "That will certainly help us." Green Bay (14-2-3) won the Horizon League Championship by upsetting Butler on penalty kicks 3-2 on Sunday after the match ended in a scoreless tie. The Phoenix have an outstanding attack, according to Clark, and are one of the highest scoring teams in the country. "They are a very good side," Clark said. "They have only lost two games all season, and that is impressive. They are also one of the leading scoring machines in the country. We will not take them lightly." Green Bay poses a unique set of challenges for the Irish, not the least of which is their habit of finding a way to win. "I have always believed that winning and losing are habits," Clark said. "They are going to come out strong because they know how to win." The Irish hold an all-time 2-1 record against Green Bay, with their last meeting coming in 1994. In that game, the Irish fell 2-1 at home. "We will have to look at what they do and be aware of some of their good players," Clark said. "But at the end of the day, it is going to come down to what we do to win." If the Irish were to advance beyond the first round, they would meet ninth-seeded Northwestern (10-4-4) in the second round. The Wildcats are the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last year, an event that still rests in the minds of many of the Irish players. "There is a lot still lingering about the loss to Northwestern last year," Clark said. "Those memories still linger, and I think that will push the players to get prepared." The Irish are on top-seeded Akron's side of the bracket, which finished the season a perfect 20-0-0. Though the bracket and list of potential foes seems a formidable one to climb, Clark remains optimistic. "I believe that the hardest game in our bracket will be tomorrow," Clark said. "If we take care of this game, I believe that all the other games will take care of themselves." This is it for the Irish, as a single loss eliminates them from NCAA tournament and ends their season. Clark said he believes that the NCAA tournament is what the players and the fans will always remember. "The one thing that everyone remembers the most is what happens in the NCAA tournament," Clark said. The Irish hope to make some good memories when they begin their NCAA quest tonight at 7:30 p.m.


The Observer

Women's Basketball: Irish travel to East Lansing for first road game of the season

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No. 5 Notre Dame will travel to East Lansing, Mich., this evening to face No. 21 Michigan State in the Irish's first big road test of the year in a battle of size versus speed. The Irish (1-0) will face a stiff test, as the Spartans (1-1) boast a strong size advantage at almost every position. "They are big," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "They are the biggest team we have played, and may be the biggest team we will play all year. Every position they have a huge size advantage on us." Spartan senior center Allyssa DeHaan is a whopping 6-foot-9 and will present a distinct challenge to a smaller Irish defense trying to keep her from running up a lot of points. "They just present a lot of matchup problems for us," McGraw said. "6-foot 9-inches is somebody we really have nobody to guard. It is going to be a challenge for us." The Irish really have nobody to prevent DeHaan from getting the ball or to guard her one-on-one, so the Irish will try to mix up their defenses to keep the Spartans off balance, according to McGraw. "I don't think we can prevent her from getting the ball at her size," McGraw said. "We have a couple of things we are going to try." The Irish must counter Michigan State's size with speed and strong play from a lineup loaded with guards. "Our strength is at the guard spot," McGraw said. "We are going to have to score a lot of points." But McGraw does not want to the team to fall in love with the 3, as she believes that will hurt their chances to win. "My worry is that we stand out there and shoot too much," McGraw said. "Last year we were shooting 25 3s and we made nine. We don't want to have to rely on 3-point shooting, we want to be able to score in other ways." An Irish player who has shined against the Spartans in the past is sophomore forward Kellie Watson, who put up 18 points last year against Michigan State. But Watson has been hampered lately with a leg injury, and has just been returning to practice and game action over the past few weeks. McGraw is not sure what contribution she will be able to make against the Spartans. "Her role right now is very different than last year because of her injuries," McGraw said. "She really has only been practicing for a week and a half. She really has a lot of catch-up to do. She is really behind right now." Not being able to fully utilize Watson is a concern for McGraw, but she believes she will be able to work into the game. "We were hoping she could move into the post a little bit with her size," McGraw said. "It gives us another big body in there and she is definitely capable of guarding people." A point of emphasis after last week's 27 turnovers against Arkansas Pine Bluff has been to limit those mistakes, according to McGraw, as she did not like the sloppy play she saw at home. McGraw said she hopes that the turnovers were a product of the team coming together while playing their first game of the season. "I think we were really sloppy in that first game, and I am hoping a lot of it was first game jitters and being anxious and having a lot of open people," McGraw said. "So I am hoping that we can settle down tonight and play our normal game." The key to the Irish's ability to control the ball will be senior guard and captain Melissa Lechlitner, who will be running the point. "Lech did a great job taking care of the ball, and hopefully we will have the ball in her hands a lot," McGraw said. The Irish hope to clean up their sloppy play and get their first road win against a tough opponent.  


The Observer

Hockey: Team faces Spartans in Fort Wayne

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No. 14 Notre Dame hopes a unique weekend schedule that begins with a game tonight at No. 6 Michigan State will cure some of the woes the Irish offense has suffered in recent weeks. Irish coach Jeff Jackson said scheduling concerns related to football and basketball games at both schools led to the arrangement of the weekend series, which concludes with a second game Sunday in Fort Wayne, Ind. "We're hoping we can get a lot of people out in Fort Wayne and expose the game to our state in a real strong Notre Dame area," Jackson said. "We don't like taking too many games off campus, but if we have the opportunity to go to Fort Wayne and run a clinic for the kids and play in front of the Notre Dame fans there, it should be a great situation." But first things first — the Irish (5-5-2, 2-2-2-1 CCHA) must deal with the red-hot Spartans (9-2-1, 6-1-1-0) on their home ice Thursday. Michigan State swept Michigan, the preseason favorite to win the CCHA, in a home-and-home series last weekend. "They're playing with a lot of jam," Jackson said. "Obviously after the kind of year they had last year, they're certainly out to prove something. So far they have." The Spartans' nine wins are the most in the country, and they hold a two-point advantage over Miami in the conference standings. "It's a young team playing with a lot of energy," Jackson said. "They're doing much better than people anticipated, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that with youth comes enthusiasm." Notre Dame has struggled to score goals all season, and particularly at even strength. Last weekend's home series against Northern Michigan was no different. The Irish lost 3-2 Friday night before stealing a much-needed point with a shootout win after Saturday's game ended in a 2-2 tie. Sophomore wing Billy Maday scored both Irish goals in Saturday's game, and he also put home one of the two shootout tallies. Jackson said he hopes that will jumpstart Notre Dame's leading scorer. "Maybe that's going to help him play with more confidence," Jackson said. "I'm hoping that happens to a few other guys, and the sooner, the better." The offense isn't the only area with question marks for Notre Dame, as Jackson still has not settled the goaltender competition between freshman Mike Johnson and junior Brad Phillips, both of whom started once last weekend. Jackson said he'd wait until the team's Thursday morning skate to finalize his plans in net for the weekend. "We'll continue to play two guys on and off here, at least for the time being," Jackson said. "The goaltending issue is still up for debate, and I'm not opposed to going with two for the short-term, and potentially the long-term. It's just going to depend if one of them steps up and separates himself." Tonight's game in East Lansing, Mich., begins at 7:05 p.m., while Sunday's contest will start at 4:05 p.m. at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.


The Observer

ND Cross Country: Rydberg makes debut appearance at NCAAs

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A new face will be among the crowd at the women's NCAA championship cross country meet in Terre Haute, Ind. this weekend as freshman Jessica Rydberg takes the course for the Irish. "It is so exciting to be able to race with the best runners in the entire nation," Rydberg said. "I am not too nervous yet, but I am sure when I get to the meet and see all of the other teams, I will become much more nervous." Rydberg came in second place for the Irish and 10th overall in 21:23.84 at the Great Lakes Regional meet where Notre Dame won for the first time since 2003 and Rydberg received all-region honors. "Starting college is a tough transition for a freshman, especially an athlete who is expected to contribute right away, and she had some struggles early like most freshmen do," Irish coach Tim Connelly said. "She seems to be handling things well now and comes to practice every day, happy, and excited to be running." Rydberg knew she wanted to run in college and looked into possibly attending Duke, Xavier or Santa Clara University, but as a science pre-professional and theology double major intent, she ultimately chose Notre Dame with some urging from her high school track coach. "I feel like Notre Dame has the perfect combination of rigorous academics, successful athletics and service opportunities, and everything is supported by a strong faith in God," Rydberg said. As an athlete who participates in a highly individual sport like cross country, Rydberg maintains a healthy level of team sportsmanship and humility in her personality as she races for optimal team performance. "I did not really put pressure on myself to be in the top runners; I just wanted to do my best for the team," Rydberg said. Rydberg has been running competitively since middle school with the encouragement of her parents who are both runners as well. "Running is refreshing, it allows me to take a break from everything that usually makes me stressed, and at the same time, it is also an exciting challenge," Rydberg said. "I get to find out how strong I can really be, and there is always an opportunity to become faster, stronger, and better." Rydberg and the rest of the Irish will be vying to show they are faster, stronger and better than the rest of the competitors Nov. 23 as the team races towards its first national title.  


The Observer

ND Women's Soccer: Wise Weiss

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Just one year removed from a campaign in which she did not make a single start, junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss now finds herself anchoring a strong Irish defense and just two wins away from leading Notre Dame to its fourth consecutive NCAA College Cup appearance.


The Observer

Fencing: Youngsters show true individual promise

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Divided by individual and intercollegiate competitions, the demanding fencing season can take its toll on a young team. But as the Irish wrap up the season of individual bouts, a growing list of accomplishments from a number of players provides some encouragement.



The Observer

Football: Weis will look to seniors to spark Irish for Connecticut

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Notre Dame's 27-22 loss at Pittsburgh Saturday represented the second straight game, and fourth overall this season, in which a furious fourth-quarter Irish rally fell short. And while Irish coach Charlie Weis said at his Tuesday press conference he continues to be proud of the fight his team has displayed throughout a tumultuous 6-4 season, he acknowledged the crippling effects of too many slow starts this season.



The Observer

ND Volleyball: Much still ahead for Irish

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With wins over Georgetown and South Florida this weekend, the Irish accomplished two of their primary goals this season: an outright Big East regular-season title and an undefeated conference record.