By Tim Goodenow for MSNsportsNET.com
October 1, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia women’s soccer team resumes BIG EAST play with a pair of conference home matches this weekend at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The Mountaineers play host to No. 8 Notre Dame, the 2008 NCAA runners-up, on Friday, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 4, WVU battles DePaul at noon.
"We’re going to go out and get after Notre Dame," says WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. "We know that this is a critical time for us and that this is a top 10 team that won the BIG EAST last year. This team has what we want in a national ranking and points, and there are three points out there for the taking."
Notre Dame comes to town with a four match win streak following a pair of loses at the Santa Clara adidas Classic on Sept. 11-13. The Fighting Irish carry a record of 7-3-0 into Friday’s contest, including a 3-0-0 mark in BIG EAST play with wins over DePaul, Cincinnati and Louisville.
The Irish are led by 11th-year coach Randy Waldrum, who guided Notre Dame to the 2004 National Championship. A year ago, Waldrum directed ND to a school record 26 victories and a fourth NCAA College Cup berth in five seasons.
Leading the Irish offensively are 2008 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Melissa Henderson and junior forward Lauren Fowlkes with five goals each. Midfielder Rose Augustin and forward Taylor Knaack lead the squad in assists with three apiece.
Defensively, senior Kelsey Lysander gets the nod in goal, staring eight of the team’s 10 matches this season. The second-year starter has made 21 stops while allowing eight goals in nine contests.
The trio of Henderson, Fowlkes and senior Courtney Rosen were named to the 2009 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List. Rosen has been sidelined by a broken left foot, her fourth broken foot in the past five years.
Notre Dame and West Virginia were tabbed as favorites in the 2009 BIG EAST preseason women’s soccer poll. The Irish received 15 first-place votes and were unanimously picked to win the National Division, while the Mountaineers had 13 first-place votes to win the American Division. Both programs have won their respective regular season division titles in each of the last three years.
Tomorrow’s match will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Beth Mowins (play-by-play) and Wendy Gebaure-Palladino (color) calling the action. It is also a “Gold Rush” theme for fans to wear their gold attire and “Dollar Night” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for purchase for just one dollar.
West Virginia is looking to end an impressive streak by the Irish. Notre Dame carries an unbeaten streak against BIG EAST opponents of 55 consecutive matches (53-0-2), tying the NCAA record first set by North Carolina during Atlantic Coast Conference play from 1994-2000.
WVU owns one of the Irish’s two ties from its last meeting with ND. At the 2007 BIG EAST Championship finals, West Virginia advanced on penalty kicks, giving WVU its first-ever BIG EAST tournament championship at home in front a great crowd.
"It doesn’t get any easier on Sunday with DePaul coming to town," adds Izzo-Brown. "Erin (Chastain) has her team playing extremely well and has picked up some quality wins in the league already."
DePaul is led by third-year coach Erin Chastain, the program’s third head coach. In two and a half seasons, Chastain-coached teams have produced a 16-31-3 record.
The Blue Demons carry an impressive 7-3-2 record into the weekend and battle Pitt on Oct. 2, prior to their match with WVU on Sunday. DePaul’s conference record stands at 2-1-0, with wins over Louisville and Cincinnati.
Junior midfielder Tara Strickland leads the Blue Demon offensive attack with four goals and two assists. Nine different players have scored a goal this season for DePaul.
Anchoring the defense is freshman goalkeeper Claire Hanold who has played every minute of 2009. After setting an Illinois high school record with 73 career shutouts, Hanold has posted seven clean sheets in 12 matches for DePaul.
The Mountaineers are 1-0-0 all-time against DePaul, a 4-0 shutout in Chicago during the 2006 season. The Blue Demons were part of the BIG EAST Conference expansion in 2005.
Members of the Mountaineer Parents Club will receive a coupon for discounted admission into the DePaul match – as part of the 2009 Fall Family Weekend.