Irish look to avenge loss to Broncos in semifinals
By MIKE CONNOLLY
Associate Sports Editor
In the biggest game of the season so far, the Notre Dame women's soccer team faces the Santa Clara Broncos — a team that defeated the Irish 4-2 in the regular season.
Head coach Randy Waldrum said that his players are excited for a rematch with Santa Clara and look for revenge on the team that dealt them their worst loss on the season.
"I think they are really excited about it," Waldrum said. "I know that sounds surprising but as poorly as they did the last time they faced each other, they are anxious to get on the field and try to redeem themselves."
The Broncos jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to four goals in less than nine minutes, 19 seconds in the first half. The Irish battled back to score two second-half goals but a four-goal deficit is a steep hill to climb against any team — let alone the No. 1 ranked and undefeated Broncos.
Waldrum knows that his team can ill afford to fall behind the Broncos by four goals again.
"Most of what we have to do to get ready is psychological," Waldrum said. "We can't spot a team like Santa Clara four goals and expect to win."
To stop the potent Bronco attack, the center Irish backs — Jen Grub and Kelly Lindsey — must slow down the Santa Clara offense while goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene must make the big saves. Beene has played especially strong in the post season — making key saves against Stanford and Nebraska in the third and quarterfinal rounds, respectively.
"We need to have the kind of performance we have had from them the last two or three NCAA games. Grubb and Kelly Lindsey both need to have great games," Waldrum said, "Keysia needs to come up big for us against. Against Stanford she made some saves that won the game for us. Against Nebraska she came up big for us as well."
The Irish face one of the best 1-2 scoring combos in the nation in Aly Wagner and Mandy Clements. Wagner just missed making the 1999 World Cup team while Clements leads the nation in scoring with 71 points. Both Wagner and Clements are two of five finalists for the Hermann award, which is given to the country's top female soccer player.
Most of soccer analyzers are not giving the fifth-seeded Irish much of a chance against the No. 1 Broncos. Collegesoccer.com has made Santa Clara a 4:1 favorite.
"We kind of feel like the pressure is completely on Santa Clara. For us the only pressure is what we are putting on ourselves," Waldrum said. "The feeling I am getting listening to most of the media talk around here is that most of them don't think we have a chance. We kind of like that."
The semifinals will be televised at 10 p.m. tonight on channel 46. The winner of the Santa Clara-Notre Dame game will face the winner of the Penn State-North Carolina game at 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.
All Sports Stories for Friday, December 3, 1999