Notre Dame looks for revenge against No. 7 Syracuse
By CHRIS COLEMAN
When No. 7 Syracuse comes marching into town today, they are going to meet a Notre Dame squad that has spent the last 10 months waiting for a chance to play them again.
"You never want to look ahead to other games but, this Syracuse game, we've been looking forward to it since Day 1," said senior captain Alissa Moser.
Last year the Irish saw their hopes of advancing to the NCAA tournament slip away as Syracuse beat them 13-10 in the final game of the season. Today's game carries even more importance.
Both teams are ranked the highest ever in the history of their programs. Both teams are fighting to show dominance in the Big East, while locking up their NCAA tournament bid.
But the No. 11 Irish, off to their best season ever, 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big East, still has memories of flying home from New York knowing they were done for the year.
The eight seniors on this veteran squad face a Syracuse team that is coming to South Bend for the first time in four years. They all remember how close they came last year. They know this is their last chance and they will not hold anything back.
"It's the first time we've ever played them at home," said Moser. "We are looking for a game. There are going to be heads rolling. We are ready for it."
Junior Jen White, the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Week, and the Irish defense face their toughest challenge of the year. The Orangewomen are led by Big East Offensive Player of the Week, Kim Wayne. Wayne is also the leading scorer in the league with 36 points.
"They are going to be tough, but if we play our game like we have been it's going to be a good game," said White. "We have worked all season for this. We want the big-time games."
The defense, the most experienced unit on the field for the Irish, is led by senior captains Kathryn Lam and Tina Fedarcyk.
Senior Maureen Henwood and junior Kelly McCardell have played on defense in every game since coming to Notre Dame.
"We are going for the win, and whatever that's going to take, we are going to do," said Lam about the defensive mindset for the game. "We are going to play our game and be aggressive."
The attacking trio of Moser, Danielle Shearer, who scored a record six goals in last year's game, and Natalie Loftus will be expected to continue to lead the Irish offensively.
The game will be determined, however, by who controls the midfield. The Irish are going to focus on the transition game by extending passes on offensive transition and marking harder on the defensive end.
The rhythm of playing at home should be a significant advantage for the Irish. The game most likely will be played in Loftus making the turf surface familiar for the Orangewomen, but this doesn't bother head coach Tracy Coyne.
"Whatever surface it is, bring it on," said Coyne. "We are ready."
Today's opening draw is set for 4 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002