I take that back, Notre Dame

2009–10 Big East Conference men's basketball s...

…what I said about not being a disappointment. I wasn’t aware that the Irish could be jinxed, but apparently I’ve done it.

The 2-0 loss in Big East quarterfinals, at Alumni Field, is a step away from unacceptable. It’s not like Notre Dame lacks the experience and personnel to win a crucial Big East game at home over this year’s UConn. But! I still believe the Irish are the kind of team that you can light a fire under. Better now than in NCAAs, right?

In other “What the hell?” NCAA news, Ohio State dropped an L against Indiana today, allowing Penn State to tie for first place. Check it:

Penn State’s win coupled with Ohio State’s upset loss at Indiana on Sunday moves the Nittany Lions into a tie for first with OSU. Both teams are tied atop the standings at 7-2-0 with 21 points, while Wisconsin is a point behind at 6-1-2. All three teams have one game left to play.

The ACC standings are also behaving strangely, but that is only worth noting if UNC doesn’t tally a W today.

Much later: Santa Clara, that red card better be epic.

Notre Dame at Villanova, mostly just musing

As teamongolia said, last Friday meant a trip to Villanova to see Notre Dame play. Because I can’t ever seem to find my way around Nova, we arrived a few minutes after kickoff, but that was okay. For the friends I was with, this was their first time seeing either of these teams live. For me, it was kind of like a “welcome home,” since Nova is one of my nearest DI schools and my last game there was in 2007.

I have missed falls in Pennsylvania. Friday was a perfect example of that:

The weather was perfect, the company was wonderful, and the preferred team came away with the win. Since the last Notre Dame game I saw in person was in 2006, this crop of Irish was a new experience for me. (And since the sisters Press have already been given blog time elsewhere, I can skip over that.) The crowd, by the way, felt pretty similar to 2006–a decent Irish contingent and some smart young girls sitting behind us providing commentary. I love it when the kids know who the college players are (especially when they know more than just the teams’ stars) and how the game is played. They weren’t afraid to pick apart either team.

It’s true, Notre Dame has not been having the season that I hoped they would, but the Irish haven’t been a disappointment, either. They clinched the National Division the weekend before at Providence, and after this weekend’s win and draw, they are 9-0-2 in conference play. Since both of those draws (with UConn and Georgetown) occurred on the road and after the vanishing of Taylor Knaack, I would say that even the Connecticut draw is, although concerning, understandable. The freshmen are making significant contributions to this team, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are first years.

The freshmen were fun to watch, though. The whole team was, but I expected to be more focused on the upperclassmen. Surprisingly, this was not the case. Mandy Laddish and Adriana Leon were starters, Elizabeth Tucker and Kecia Morway came off the bench, and Rebecca Twining clocked a few minutes as well. Laddish was taken down and had to come off during the first half, but she eventually returned. Leon scored, and that was the game winner. As much as I thought I was there to finally see these seniors in the blue and gold, I was really getting a chance to meet the future of the team. It definitely changed my perception of this year’s team, too.

Last season and this season have had their rough patches and shaky spots, but it’s not like this team has slipped the way Penn State has, or flashed and faded like Boston College. When Tucker got taken down in the box, I watched Waldrum instead of the penalty kick. He wasn’t watching either, but it was okay. The Irish didn’t double their lead but they held onto it, and they continued to attack.

Notre Dame is currently a point ahead of West Virginia and a couple behind Marquette (11-0-0 in conference play). The next game is a home game in the Big East tournament on Sunday, October 31, at 1 p.m. Eastern (with webcast!). After that, I expect to see them in the semis and final at Rutgers–maybe, possibly, in person with the crowd of family and fans that follow them.

WPS Philadelphia-Washington, or NCAA Boston College-Rutgers?

Last year, I made it to six regular season WPS games, one regular season W-League game, and the W-League final.  I didn’t manage to attend any NCAA games, missing my chance to see UCLA at Illinois because of the rain that weekend.

This year, I made it to one preseason WPS/NCAA game (Chicago at Illinois), four regular season WPS games (three of which were FC Gold Pride road games!), and now my WPS season is over. My personal attendance is definitely down. Philadelphia is hosting the first round of the WPS playoffs, but I am (somewhat) superstitious when I am emotionally invested in a game. So I already have plans to attend Boston College-Rutgers in New Jersey instead. These two teams have both started the season strong, with the exception of Rutgers’ strange loss to Monmouth at home.

BC is probably the better-known team these days. Last year, they had an incredible season, both in the ACC and NCAA.  The roster is peppered with US youth national team players (U-20 and U-23), and I would guess they are due at least one player from the 2010 U-17 squad. Boston College is currently ranked 5th in the nation, owing their undefeated season largely to junior goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni.

Rutgers is a respectable Big East team that doesn’t draw much attention lately. There are a few Canadian WNT and YNT players on the roster, namely Jonelle Filigno, a redshirt freshman with strong showings for both her national team and U-20 squad in 2008. This season, she has scored three goals, assisted two, and converted a PK for Rutgers. She is joined by Shannon Woeller (CWNT and U-20 team), Karla Schacher (U-20 team in 2008), and Rheanne Sleiman (U-20 in 2008 and 2006). Schacher has also added two goals this season. Their starting keeper is redshirt sophomore Emmy Simpkins.

Boston College has to take on UNC next, and Rutgers will ease into conference play by sandwiching BC between match-ups with Seton Hall and Georgetown. So this will be the last non-conference game for both teams. It will also be my first time seeing either of them in person, which is a great way for me to start the travel portion of my season. Brand new, exciting, and full of potential.

Much less nerve wracking than Philly trying to lay a smackdown on DC without giving the game away through silly fouls.