Randy Waldrum

Pitch Points: #4/3 Irish Feel The Sting After Weekend Loss

Oct. 7, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The legendary rock band U2 recorded one of its greatest hits with the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” One couldn’t blame the Notre Dame women’s soccer players and coaches if they had that tune running through their heads on Monday.

The No. 4/3 Fighting Irish (9-2-1, 5-1-1) got a rude awakening to the realities of life in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 loss at Miami. Not only did the result snap Notre Dame’s seven-match unbeaten streak, but it served as a stark reminder that unlike its previous conference home, there really are no places to hide on the schedule in the ACC.

Needless to say, the three-hour flight from Miami back to Chicago’s Midway Airport, and then the two-hour bus ride home to South Bend were not a pleasant one for the Fighting Irish players and coaches, all of whom were stinging from the unexpected setback.

“”We came out right from the beginning without focus and intensity,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “That is on me as the coach, so I’ll take the responsibility for that. I wish I had a clear answer as to why, as we did things the same way we always do, but I will look at everything, including our travel plans, to try to find out what went wrong. Having said that, our hats must go off for Miami — they came in absolutely ready to compete and play for 90 minutes. They won this game, not on talent alone; they won primarily due to the fact that they came to compete.

“We never got into our playing rhythm largely due to the fact that we keep getting stuck playing on one side,” he added. “We very rarely switched the play and our speed of play was way too slow. We made it very easy for Miami to defend. We also needed that one player to step up and basically say `just give me the ball and I’ll take care of this.’ We just didn’t ever have anyone with that mentality out there.”

“No excuses, we got what we deserved,” sophomore forward Cari Roccaro said. “We’re in the big leagues now and either we come ready to play every single night or teams will do this kind of thing to us. No one in the locker room is happy about what happened and it’s our responsibility as players to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. That’s a collective group effort on everyone’s part and it started the minute that Sunday’s game ended.”

Facing its first true adversity of the season on the heels of a draw and a loss in its last two outings, Notre Dame has four days to prepare as it gets set to visit top-ranked Virginia Thursday night in Charlottesville. It will be the sixth ranked opponent of the season for the Fighting Irish (and third against a top-five foe), as well as their fourth in the past seven contests. Notre Dame is no stranger to highly-regarded opponents, and Waldrum believes his charges will be ready when the opening whistle sounds Thursday.

“It may go without saying, but we will have to be much, much better against Virginia,” he said. “We are going into a very hostile environment and the game will be sold out, with more than 4,000 people expected, from what I’m hearing. We have to be at our best and I look forward to getting back to work on our preparations for UVa. They have a couple of really outstanding players in Morgan Brian and Makenzy Doniak, who are very athletic and creative and will have to be looked after all game. I think our team is looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get back on the field.”

Notre Dame lost for the first time in seven career matches against Miami … coming into Sunday’s contest, the Fighting Irish had outscored the Hurricanes in the series by a 24-2 aggregate margin, but by the end of the weekend, UM had doubled its series scoring total … Notre Dame had allowed just two goals in their first six ACC matches, but that total doubled after Sunday’s result at Miami … the Fighting Irish had allowed just five goals all season (and never more than one in a match) before the Hurricanes scored twice on Sunday … Notre Dame drops to 38-2-1 all-time against the five former BIG EAST Conference schools that are now in the ACC (Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Virginia Tech), with the only other defeat coming on Nov. 7, 2003, a 2-1 loss to Boston College in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals at Piscataway, N.J. … entering Sunday’s contest, Notre Dame has trailed for a total of 21:32 through its first 10 matches, but the Fighting Irish were behind for the final 48:08 at Miami … this was Notre Dame’s first loss to an unranked opponent (in either poll) since the 2012 season opener, when Wisconsin edged the visiting Fighting Irish, 1-0, on Aug. 17 in Madison (less than a month later on Sept. 9, No. RV/22 Washington earned a 3-0 home victory over Notre Dame in Seattle, with the Fighting Irish answering by winning their next seven matches) … Notre Dame, Stanford and Penn State all lost on Sunday to unranked opponents (Miami, Arizona State and Minnesota, respectively), the first time those three programs (all of which came in ranked in the top 10 nationally) have ever suffered defeat on the same day.

Notre Dame continues its three-match ACC road trip ay 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it heads to Charlottesville, Va., to battle No. 1 Virginia at Klöckner Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on the ACC Digital Network, which is the conference’s official home on YouTube (CLICK HERE to subscribe free of charge to the ACC Digital Network Channel and watch Thursday’s match, as well as additional live and pre-programmed ACC video content).

Virginia (12-0, 6-0 ACC) is one of four schools in the country that are unbeaten at this stage of the season. The Cavaliers are coming off a 3-0 win at home over Clemson on Sunday afternoon and will be playing host to Notre Dame for the second time in as many series matches. UVa took the only prior regular-season meeting between the schools, 2-0 on Oct. 21, 1989, in Charlottesville, although the Fighting Irish and Cavaliers met annually in the preseason from 2005-12. Notre Dame posted a 5-2-1 record in those matches, including a 2-0 exhibition win in their most recent encounter on Aug. 10, 2012, at the Notre Dame Practice Field.

For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.

— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director