Irish kick off four-game homestand against Hoyas
By MIKE CONNOLLY
The women's soccer team returns home with a 6-2 record and a 3-0 record in the Big East to face two conference opponents this weekend on Alumni Field.
On Friday, the Irish take on the Georgetown Hoyas at 7:30 p.m. The Villanova Wildcats travel to South Bend on Sunday for a 1 p.m. showdown with the Irish.
This weekend kicks off a four-game home stand after spending the last four games on the road. The Irish are happy to be back at home, according to head coach Randy Waldrum.
"This past weekend was the best we have played all season," he said. "So it is nice to be coming home playing so well."
One of the reasons for the improved play of the Irish is the return of Anne Makinen from her involvement with the Finnish national team and the return to health of junior captain Kelly Lindsey from a knee injury she suffered against North Carolina.
The Irish have had difficulty settling down without Makinen.
"It is nice to get her back in the line up," he said. "When she is out of the line up, we have difficulty getting into a rhythm."
In Makinen and Lindsey's absence, the Irish never settled on a line-up of defenders and midfielders. Senior captain Jen Grubb and freshman Nancy Mikacenic rotated between the midfield and the back line while Lindsey Jones and Kerri Bakker shuffled in and out of the line up on the back line.
"We've spent a lot of time tinkering with the line up," Waldrum said. "We've moved Jen Grubb and Nancy Mikacenic around. Vanessa Pruzinsky and Kara Brown have played well along with Kerri Bakker and Lindsey Jones but we haven't been steady enough. We need to get more consistent in the center of our defense."
The defense played its best game of the year against Rutgers last Sunday. The Irish allowed just four shots and none of them were on goal. Irish goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene recorded the 29th shutout of her career without making a save.
The Irish scored eight goals from five different players in last weekends two wins. The variety of goal-scorers this year shows that the Irish have a much more balanced attack than last season. In 1998, the Irish relied on forward Jenny Heft, who scored 28 goals last year, for most of the offense.
"You hope you can be balanced," Waldrum said. "We have a balanced attack this year rather than relying on one person. It's not a bad thing to rely on one person but it limits you a bit. When you rely on one person, the defense can mark her more tightly and slow down your attack."
The Georgetown offense enters its matchup with Notre Dame flying high. In their last game against the Bison of Howard, the Hoyas scored seven second-half goals to cruise to an 8-0 victory. Besides the victory over Howard, however, Georgetown has been a very average team.
The Hoyas stand at 6-4 and 0-1 in the Big East after their first 10 games. The Hoyas have been a strong second half team — outscoring opponents 13-3 — but have had trouble scoring in the first.
The Sunday matchup between Notre Dame and Villanova features the top two teams in the Big East Mid-Atlantic division. Both the Wildcats and the Irish are 2-0 in division play. Villanova is led by sophomore goalkeeper Janel Schilleg who has recorded four shut-outs this year and has been named Big East goalkeeper of the week three times in 1999. In last year's meeting with Villanova, Notre Dame won 5-0 but Schilleg made 25 saves — more than other keeper in the country.
All Sports Stories for Friday, October 1, 1999