Nation's No. 4 team preps for home opener
By KEVIN BERCHOU
The action at Alumni Field kicks into full gear this weekend for the fourth-ranked Notre Dame women's soccer team.
After whipping the University of Detroit 6-0 in the season opener, the Irish anticipate much sterner competition from the Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa and the Lady Friars of Providence.
The Golden Hurricanes come blowing into South Bend with its best start in seven years. The Golden Hurricane defeated Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to win the Oklahoma Shootout.
Irish head coach Randy Waldrum, who coached at Tulsa, is leery of the team.
"They've been a real solid team over the years," he noted. "They're good enough to beat you if you're not ready. To be honest I'm a bit concerned."
On paper, the match-up looks to favor the Irish heavily, but the Golden Hurricanes could strike back if given the right opportunity.
Waldrum hopes to strike early and prevent that situation.
"We need to convert our chances better than last week. If we do that we'll be in good shape," he said.
During last's week win over Detroit, the Notre Dame out shot Detroit 49-2, but only scored six goals.
Waldrum knows that his squad will have limited chances against a Tulsa team that has yet to yield a goal. He stresses that his team must convert the chances it gets on Friday night.
"We need to do a better job around the goal. We really do," he said.
Junior Melissa McCormick and sophomore Julie Twellman — the Hurricanes' best — will lead the thrust against the Irish.
Senior star Anne Makinen will do her best to prevent an Irish loss. After tallying one goal in addition to handing out two assists, Makinen already looks to be in midseason form.
Waldrum insists there is no sentimentality on his part as he battles his former team, but there are other ties between Tulsa and Notre Dame. Assistant coach Amy Edwards played at Tulsa and then coached there from 1995 to 1998.
"There might be a bit more motivation for Amy," he said. "She still has connections there and still knows a lot of the girls there."
The Irish will get little rest before they begin Big East Conference play against the Lady Friars Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.
Providence is off to a 2-1 start but played poorly in a 4-0 loss to Connecticut earlier in the week. Waldrum is unsure of what to expect.
"They're (Providence) one of the teams we didn't get a chance to play last year," he said. "We don't have much to go on other than stats."
Even with the limited information he has, Waldrum believes that Providence is a threat to his Notre Dame squad.
With an attack anchored by junior forward Mary-Frances Monroe, the Lady Friars boast a potent offense that will have a young untested Irish defense on its toes.
Youth is a concern for Waldrum, who hopes that his team becomes more coherent as the season progresses.
"Right now we are a bit young and inexperienced," Waldrum acknowledged. "We're still trying to fit the pieces together. We're just hoping to play well and get the conference schedule off to a good start."
All Sports Stories for Friday, September 1, 2000