Dec. 26, 2003
Notre Dame fifth-year women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum is one of six finalists for national coach of the year, as selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Waldrum earlier was one of six named by the NSCAA as regional coaches of the year, receiving the honor for the Great Lakes Region. The national coach of the year will be announced at the annual NSCAA convention, Jan. 15 in Charlotte, N.C., with the region coaches of the year also to be honored at that event.
Waldrum has been named his region’s coach of the year five times in his 22-year career as a collegiate head soccer coach, including in 1990 with the Tulsa women’s team (Midwest Region) and with the 1998 Baylor women (Central Region). He also twice was named Midwest Region coach of the year with the Tulsa men’s team (’91, ’93).
Notre Dame’s Bobby Clark was named the NSCAA Great Lakes Region coach of the year for men’s soccer, making Notre Dame the nation’s only school to produce a 2003 region coach of the year in men’s and women’s soccer (the women feature six regions, the men eight).
The first three-time BIG EAST women’s soccer coach of the year (’99, ’00, ’03), Waldrum turned in a masterful performance in 2003 while guiding Notre Dame to possibly the most dominant regular season in the program’s history. The accomplishments were all the more noteworthy considering the fact that the Irish were beset by a series of injuries (spanning 107 total games lost due to injury) – most notably the season-long absence of All-America right back Candace Chapman and all-BIG EAST midfielder Randi Scheller – while also working under a new group of assistant coaches in Alvin Alexander, Dawn Greathouse and Waldrum’s son Ben.
Notre Dame (20-3-1) – ranked No. 2 in the national polls for most of the 2003 season – finished No. 3 in the nation for scoring (3.04 goals per game) and fifth in goals-against average (0.49; third-best in ND history), joining national champion North Carolina as the only teams ranked in the top five of both categories. Notre Dame’s 2003 dominance included a 73-12 scoring edge, 20 more goals than opponent shots on goal (53), a 10-game shutout streak that spanned 956 minutes (5th-longest in NCAA history) and 16 consecutive games without facing a deficit (an ND record).
The Irish also held 20 of their final 21 opponents to 0-3 shots on goal, with a pair of losses to Michigan (in the regular-season finale and NCAA second round) and the BIG EAST semifinal loss to Boston College each featuring just a handful of opponent scoring chances and an injury-depleted Irish squad (among them All-Americans Amy Warner and Melissa Tancredi, plus leading goalscorer Mary Boland). Notre Dame’s only other non-victory came in an early 1-1 tie with Stanford (the Irish dominated play but could not crack Stanford’s defensive strategy) while season highlights included one of the most dominant openers in the program’s history (a 9-1 win over perennial NCAA participant Hartford), a 2-1 win at Santa Clara (SCU’s first-ever loss in its SCU Classic) and convincing wins over BIG EAST rivals West Virginia and Connecticut (both 3-0).
Waldrum – who in 2004 will be slated to welcome back 15 of the top 19 players from the 2003 roster (including Chapman, Scheller and Tancredi, who has a fifth year of eligibility remaining) – showed clever use of his personnel in 2003, melding an experienced group of seniors with a freshman class that was rated fifth-best in the nation.
The presence of Greathouse, who played for Waldrum at Baylor and was a three-year veteran of the WUSA, made an immediate impact on sophomore goalkeeper Erika Bohn, who led the nation in goals-against average in the late stages of the ’03 season. In the defensive third, Waldrum inserted freshman Kim Lorenzen into Chapman’s right back spot while shifting fifth-year defender Vanessa Pruzinsky from one of the central spots to left back, where she was able to play more effectively while coping with her nagging ankle injury. That left freshman Christie Shaner to play alongside Tancredi, with the pair emerging as one of the nation’s top central defender duos (Tancredi was a second team All-American and BIG EAST defensive player of the year while Shaner was named the BIG EAST defensive player of the year and second team all-BIG EAST).
Senior Kimberly Carpenter – buoyed by Waldrum’s confidence in her ability – helped lessen the loss of Scheller with her breakthrough season as the team’s attacking midfielder while freshman Jen Buczkowski had a strong fist season playing mostly in the holding midfielder role. A combination of players – used to match the situation and opponent – then rounded out the midfield unit, with sophomore Annie Schefter, freshman Jill Krivacek and versatile rookie Lizzie Reed each logging major minutes in the 2003 Irish midfield.
Notre Dame’s system again featured a forechecking forward unit and that element was in full force during the 2003 season, led by senior Warner (a first team All-American, ND’s first forward ever so honored) and junior Boland, who joined Warner on the first team all-BIG EAST squad. Sophomore Katie Thorlakson also emerged as a clutch goalscorer and gritty frontrunner, with Waldrum utilizing a regular rotation that also included senior Amanda Guertin (one of the program’s all-time leading scorers) and sophomore Maggie Manning. The Irish were the nation’s only team that entered the 2003 postseason with four double-digit goalscorers (Boland, Warner, Guertin and Thorlakson) while eight different ND players posted multiple-goal games during the ’03 campaign.
Waldrum – who entered the 2003 season with the seventh-best career winning percentage among women’s soccer coaches with 10-plus Division I seasons – owns a 277-124-23 record (.680) in 22 total seasons as a college head soccer coach (men’s and women’s), including 201-69-16 (.731) as a women’s head coach and 93-19-4 (.819) in five seasons with the Irish. His Notre Dame teams have combined for a 24-11-3 record when facing an NSCAA top-25 team.
Coaches from BIG EAST Conference teams accounted for three of the six NSCAA region coach-of-the-year awards, with Villanova’s Ann Clifton earning the Mid-Atlantic Regional honors while Boston College’s Alison Foley was the Northeast Region recipient. Other honorees included Colorado’s Bill Hempen for the Central Region (former ND defender Kelly Lindsey is an assistant coach on Hempen’s staff), UNC’s Anson Dorrance for the Southeast Region and Utah’s Rich Manning in the West.
OTHER 2003 TEAM NOTES – The 10-game shutout streak featured just 14 total opponent shots on goal … team featured players from 17 states/provinces/countries … extended program’s home winning streak vs. BIG EAST teams to 50 games … extended ND’s unbeaten streak in overtime to 16 games (12-0-4), with tie vs. Stanford and wins over Villanova and Miami … allowed just one goal in 15-game stretch … 19-game unbeaten streak ranked 4th in ND history, with 12-game winning streak ranking 6th … did not allow a shot for 138-minute stretch spanning Butler and Georgetown games (149 minutes without a shot on goal) … completed stretch of 24 consecutive games without allowing multiple goals (tying an ND record) … efficient ND offense averaged one goal every 6.2 total shots and every 3.4 shots on goal … faced just one deficit in first 19 games (for 7:18 vs. ASU) … finished 4th nationally with 15 shutouts, plus 9 games with 1 GA … held 11 opponents to one shot on goal … joined UNC as final two unbeaten teams in ’03 (out of 294 Div. I women’s soccer squads) … Warner and Tancredi were among the 15 final candidates for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, the official NSCAA player-of-the-year award for Division I players.
OTHER WALDRUM ERA NOTES – Has coached seven All-Americans at Notre Dame (including 2000 player of the year Anne Makinen) and eight Academic All-Americans (including three in 2003, most-ever from one Div. I women’s soccer team) … his teams have combined for a 140-33-6 record during the past eight seasons … attended an elite nine-day training course in Glascow, Scotland, with that June 2003 coaching clinic sponsored by the Scottish Football Association and providing the first step to a UEFA advanced coaching certificate …his ND teams have made five NCAA appearances (1999 runner-up; 2000 top-ranked team and semifinalist) while winning four BIG EAST regular-season titles and three BIG EAST Tournament titles … last two ND teams combined for 33-10-1 record despite combined 171 games missed due to injury in that two-year span … has held a position on the U.S. national team coaching staff since 1992 …became the only first-year coach in the first 18 years of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament to lead a team to the championship game (with the 1999 ND squad).