Irish meet Cardinal in round three
By MIKE CONNOLLY
Associate Sports Writer
Four months ago on a sweltering August night, the Notre Dame women's soccer team defeated the Stanford Cardinal, 4-0, in an exhibition game. Tonight, on a cold November night, those two teams meet again in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
But Irish head coach Randy Waldrum doesn't believe the exhibition game will play any role in tonight's game because both teams have evolved throughout the season.
"I think we are probably both different," Waldrum said. "At that point in time in the season we were both looking at different positions and trying to get a handle on things. I don't think that anything that happened at that point in the season will have any bearing Friday night."
The Irish have completely juggled their lineup since August. Senior captain Jen Grubb moved from the midfield back to her more natural defense position. Waldrum said Grubb's move has made the team more organized on defense.
"It helped solidify some organization things we were struggling with early on," Waldrum said. "Mainly with her leadership qualities that she brings to the table. She had been doing a great job in the midfield and that's ideally were we wanted to put her but based on her leadership capabilities we thought she would be better in the back. We didn't do that until five or six games into the season and that will be something different."
While Grubb changed positions early in the season, senior Jenny Streiffer moved from forward to midfield later in the season. Junior midfielder Anne Makinen was not even in the lineup back in August, when she was training with the Finnish national team. Makinen is another leader who makes the Irish a more explosive team, according to Waldrum.
"I think Anne adds a whole new dimension to your team," Waldrum said. "She is certainly one of the best players in the country and probably one of the best players in the world. I think most national team coaches would tell you that. She has such a presence and a calming force on the field. All the players look up to her and respond to the way she plays."
Against Stanford, freshmen Nancy Mikacenic and Vanessa Pruzinsky started in on the back line for the Irish without much experience. Since that game, Mikacenic has been moved to midfield to accommodate Grubb while Pruzinsky has developed into a strong defender and earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors.
Two more freshmen have worked their way into the Irish lineup as the season has progressed. Ali Lovelace and Ashley Dryer are quick, explosive players who add depth and excitement to the Irish attack. Lovelace has been especially hot lately, scoring three goals in the Big East Championships.
The Cardinal has juggled its lineup during the season as well. Senior Ronnie Fair has moved from the back line to the midfield for the Irish while Peggy Myers and Allyson Marquand are starting for Stanford.
The Cardinal advanced to the third round thanks to a victory over Cal Poly, 3-1. The Irish earned a berth in the third round after defeating the Dayton Flyers, 5-1. The exhibition game gave both teams a glimpse of the opponent's talent and some of its strategy, but neither team should expect the results to be the same, according to Waldrum.
"I think the only thing it will do for both of us is let us see up close what kind of talent each team has," Waldrum said. "Both of us will have a better idea of what each other has, but I don't think the result of that game will have any bearing with what's going to happen on Friday. I think it is going to be a great game and it will be a battle to the finish."
The third round game kicks off at 7 p.m. today on Alumni Field.
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 19, 1999