Irish press conferences: always better than UNC’s

This year’s Notre Dame press conference with Randy Waldrum, Lauren Fowlkes, and Schuveiller leading up to the College Cup reminds me of the press conferences in 2008. In fact, I am going to swipe the links to throw at you because they make me so happy:

2010 – College Cup Games Notes | Notre Dame College Cup Central
Press Conference: Video | Photo Gallery | Quotes
Twitter: ND Athletics | ND Women’s Soccer | ND Women’s Soccer News | Head coach Randy Waldrum

It’s so great to hear Waldrum talk (about anything, but especially the sport), and for Schuveiller and Fowlkes to get some of the screentime that was heaped on the 2008 seniors. No offense, because I loved that crew, but we have seen much less of the women’s soccer team since then.

And just to enjoy some throwbacks, because I do miss ye olde alumni:

2008Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Kerri Hanks, and Brittany Bock | Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Brittany Bock, and Carrie Dew Well, just trust me, those were great interviews. Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew were particularly fun to watch together, and Kerri Hanks tried to be diplomatic with questions of what a handful she could be in practice.
Taping ESPN Promos | 2008 Season Highlights

Notre Dame women’s soccer is so undersold. By the way, since Waldrum did mention it and I haven’t yet: Texas Christian University will be joining the Big East in 2012. That is seriously far from the usual in the Big East – distance-wise. If only Kerri Hanks, “A Legend of Big East Soccer,” had commented on this directly.

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I could write about Stanford or BC, but no…

Let's see those ass-kicking cowboy boots, Coach.

It’s been almost a month since I wrote anything about Notre Dame, although I have talked about the Irish in the tournament in our podcast. Previously, I was cranky about Notre Dame’s loss to UConn in the Big East tournament, but apparently that was good for the Irish. They got some time “off,” and they came back strong for the NCAA tournament.

This season was sort of reminiscent of 2007. It’s been a shaky couple of months, possibly tempered for me by Penn State’s stutter-stop 2010. Knaack was dropped from the roster, the freshmen settled in (right? At least a few of them did), and the senior class has returned to the Final Four. As a four-seed, they sliced through New Mexico, returned to proper Irish form against USC, thrashed top-seeded UNC in North Carolina, and survived again on the road against Oklahoma State. This has been a really, really good run for the Irish after a challenging season. Given the spanking they gave the Tar Heels, I would say that although this season isn’t over yet, it’s been a success.

On Friday, Notre Dame meets Ohio State in the 4 p.m. (ET) semifinal. ESPN2/ESPNU should be carrying the game, as well as ESPN3.com. That’s right, the webcast is for Notre Dame-Ohio State, not Stanford-Boston College (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU). Four different conferences are represented, two schools are hitting a consecutive Final Four, and two are in their first semifinal. There are very few ways that a tournament in North Carolina without UNC can go wrong, and with the Irish in the mix, there are a lot of ways it can go right.

So much love, it’s like we’re in Portland.

Today is Thanksgiving in the US. This is my first Thanksgiving at home in two years, so I am super grateful for that and won’t be around much this weekend. Still, I want to take this opportunity to thank some people that have been a big help to Cross-Conference.

Tiffany Weimer, for your encouragement, ideas, and sense of humor. You jumped in and gave us a push when we needed it.

Shek Borkowski, again for the encouragement, but also for not pulling punches when it comes to your analysis of women’s soccer. Someone has to tell it like it is, and you do that well.

Kai Edwards, for taking an interest and inviting us to come watch your team play. We both plan to look into making this happen in the new year.

The Portland Pilots and Santa Clara Broncos, for being so generous with your time and, in some cases, helping us connect with other people in order to make the rivalry project happen. Your alumni, current players, SIDs, and coaches were very accommodating and great to work with.

The 2010 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, for thrashing UNC out of the NCAA tournament. Enough said.

Alina Garciamendez, for making sure we have a reason to say your name nearly every podcast. It’s like magic.

And on a personal note, I’d like to thank Joan for saying “Let’s wait” when we first started talking about Cross-Conference and “Let’s do it” when it was time to get rolling.

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.

Aha! Logic behind Notre Dame’s webcast schedule.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been testy this season about internal coverage of NCAA women’s soccer. I’ve harped about Notre Dame’s coverage in particular, because while the coverage is still top notch, it isn’t quite at the level that it used to be. Indeed, Irish fans (and fans of teams that play the Irish) are spoiled. The free webcasts for home games have dropped off, which is probably what makes me the crankiest. It didn’t seem like there was any rhyme or reason to the home games that have been webcast–why show Texas Tech instead of Santa Clara? Why this Syracuse game tonight, but not Minnesota or Milwaukee in August?

Associate Athletic Media Relations Director Chris Masters has volunteered the answers, which I will boil down to basics: there have been cutbacks in multimedia staffing, which means that when a home game for women’s soccer overlaps a home football pep rally… you don’t even have to do the math. Pretty much everyone knows Hope Solo is crazy when she says the numbers don’t matter. The Texas Tech webcast was not “instead of” Santa Clara, and the Minnesota and Milwaukee games both occurred before school was back in session. This Friday’s game will have a webcast because football is away this weekend, but next weekend will be audio only because football is at home.

Notre Dame has four more women’s soccer home games in the regular season:

  • Tonight, against Syracuse (webcast, 7:30 pm Eastern)
  • Sunday, against St. John’s (televised on CBS College Sports, with audio online, 12 pm)
  • Friday, against Seton Hall (audio only because of football, 7:30 pm Eastern)
  • Sunday, October 10, Senior Day against Rutgers (televised on ESPNU, 1 pm Eastern)
  • …and you have to consider that Notre Dame will go deep enough in the Big East and NCAA tournaments to merit even more televised or webcast games.

Not that Notre Dame really needs to justify the webcast schedule. The Irish would have a very strong web presence even without video. Online audio coverage is available, and interactive live blogs provide a good alternative to GameTracker. There are three options for different kinds of coverage via Twitter (@NDSoccer and @NDsoccernews), including an account for Head Coach Randy Waldrum (@NDCoachWaldrum), who is very personable.

It’s rough not having as much video from South Bend this year, because this is one of the few college teams that I’ve been able to see regularly. So it’s nice to know that the people in charge out there are aware that the loss has been felt and are doing what they reasonably can to give the fans updates. Masters, in particular, has the insane job of being SID for both women’s soccer and women’s basketball, another one of those rare women’s sports programs that receives surprisingly good (and free!) coverage.

Gotta love the Irish. Gotta transition from persecuted WPS/pro-soccer mode to enthusiastic and happy NCAA mode. Gotta watch the game wherever you can get it.

Boston College beats UNC (aka Thursday was a good night to be a DiMartino)

September 1, 2007, South Carolina opened the season against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. 16 minutes into the match, the Gamecocks score. That single goal was enough to end No. 1 UNC’s 27 game winning steak and hand the Tar Heels an historical first-ever loss in the home opener. And sure, I was happy for South Carolina, but I was more pumped that they at beaten UNC at UNC. The Tar Heels had plenty of time to come back and put the usual hurting on their opponents, but they didn’t.

In women’s college soccer, the giant slayers are few and far between. So the slaying is sweeter when it’s a team that I’ve been through the ups and downs with. In 2007, UNC lost three games in the regular season (South Carolina, William & Mary, and Miami), but none of those mattered as much as Notre Dame’s arrival in Chapel Hill in the third round of the postseason. 2007 was “rough” on UNC and none too gentle on Notre Dame. I was at Penn State-West Virginia when news came that the Irish had knocked the Tar Heels out of the tournament. While my glee was tempered by the Penn State loss, this is still one of the highlights of 2007 for me–despite Notre Dame’s painful semifinal loss to Florida State.

Yesterday, while most of my twitter feed was fixated on the WPS semifinal between Philadelphia and Boston, I was watching the scoreline and minutes for the Boston College-North Carolina game. UNC had a 2-2 draw earlier this season with Stanford, one of the strongest and most talented teams in the NCAA this year. That was the Tar Heels’ 2010 blemish until last night’s 3-2 loss at home to Boston College.

BC opened this season with a 1-1 draw at home against Stanford. Since then, they have won every game. Granted, until last week, the Eagles’ most significant opponent was probably Boston University (no slouch this year with Kevorkian on the roster). But BC didn’t struggle against Rutgers and did come from behind twice before taking down the No. 1.

The recaps and articles are worth reading. This game was a significant victory for a team that is in its second season as serious contenders, and this win should cement that.

Boston College won with a complete effort. It won because DiMartino, Mewis and Mastroianni may be among the 15 or 20 best players in the nation. It won because its back line, particularly the unsung combination of Beyar and Alyssa Pember on the left side, has now hung for 180 minutes with the best Stanford and North Carolina had to offer. It won with role players such as Natalie Crutchfield, the speed merchant off the bench who changed the tempo when she came on as a first-half substitute.

It won because, at least on this night, it was a better than No. 1.