[NOTRE DAME] After nine years in South Bend, Coach Randy Waldrum still has a little of his north Texas drawl, which was on show on the eve of the Irish' rematch with Florida State in the semifinals of the Women's College Cup.
Turnover. Injuries. Bad luck. The Irish experienced all kinds of adversity in starting out 3-4-1. Waldrum added poor coaching to the list of ills that plagued Notre Dame.
"It takes me a while to catch on to what I should be doing," he said.
Waldrum blamed some of Notre Dame's early problems on his impatience with his goalkeepers. He tried out three before returning to Lauren Karas, who started in last year's Women's College Cup. While he was trying to find one goalie, the confidence of three suffered.
After starting out 3-4-1, Notre Dame has been practically unstoppable: 16 wins and one loss -- a shootout loss to West Virginia in the Big East final that goes down as a tie.
One after the other, Notre Dame's big three -- Kerri Hanks, Brittany Bock and Michele Weissenhofer -- have regained their form.
Waldrum says Hanks, the 2006 Hermann Trophy winner, has been the steadiest. Bock caught fire when she was moved from midfield to the forward line to take advantage of her physical prowess. Weissenhofer has matched her output in the regular season with four goals in the NCAA Tournament, including two in the 3-2 win at North Carolina.
Hanks, Bock and Weissenhofer each scored for Notre Dame in the 3-2 win over Duke last Friday night to give them a combined 130 goals and 97 assists for their career, but Waldrum says they only begin to tell the story of Notre Dame's success.
"More important than their stats," he said, "they play hard for 90 minutes. The forward line is our first line of defense."
NOTABLE.Notre Dame owns the second-best all-time winning percentage (.781; 44-12-1) in the 26-year history of the NCAA Women's Tournament, trailing only North Carolina (.927; 94-7-1).
6 Lauren Karas (SR Flower Mound, Texas) GAA 0.71
9 Lauren Fowlkes (FR Lee's Summit, Mo.) 2-1-5
19 Carrie Dew (JR Encinitas, Calif.) 1-3-5
23 Elise Weber (JR Elk Grove, Ill.) 2-7-11
25 Julie Scheidler (FR Indianapolis, Ind.) 0-1-1
7 Amanda Clark (SO Naperville, Ill.) 0-1-1
5 Amanda Cinalli (SR Maple Heights, Ohio) 3-6-12
14 Courtney Rosen (SO Brecksville, Ohio) 1-4-6
2 Kerri Hanks (JR Allen, Texas) 14-20-48
10 Brittany Bock (JR Naperville, Ill.) 16-4-36
11 Michele Weissenhofer (SO Naperville, Ill.) 8-3-19
12 Ashley Jones (SR Westlake Village, Calif.) 3-5-11
15 Rose Augustin (FR Silver Lake, Ohio) 5-1-11
17 Susan Pinnick (SR South Bend, Ind.) 5-3-13
20 Rebecca Mendoza (JR Garland, Texas) 3-1-7