#2 Notre Dame: Henderson leads Irish in repeat bid

[TOP 5 PREVIEW] Notre Dame's third national championship in 2010 was perhaps its most impressive. Seniors Melissa Henderson, Courtney Barg and Jessica Schuveiller were keys to the Irish's postseason run and return to make them one of the teams to beat.

[TOP 5 PREVIEW] Notre Dame's third national championship in 2010 was perhaps its most impressive.

An up-and-down regular season concluded when it lost at home to Connecticut, snapping an NCAA-record 77-match unbeaten streak against conference opponents.

But it was followed up an emphatic postseason run, where the Irish beat North Carolina on the road in the third round and downed No. 1 Stanford in the final.

The return of seniors Melissa Henderson, Courtney Barg and Jessica Schuveiller will again make the Irish one of the teams to beat.

Henderson showed why she has to be considered one of the leading candidates for Player of the Year honors, scoring four goals in each of Notre Dame's two preseason wins, 5-0 over Nebraska and 7-5 over Virginia.

Barg was a first-team All-American in 2009 and a key figure in midfield to Notre Dame's run to its 2010 national championship.

Schuveiller was named the 2010 College Cup's Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Also back in midfield are sophomores Mandy Laddish, who earned All-College Cup honors, and Elizabeth Tucker.

The major loss was the versatile Lauren Fowlkes, a two-time All-American. With goalie Nikki Weiss gone, junior Maddie Fox and freshman Jennifer Jasper were battling for the starting job.

The 7-5 slugfest against Virginia gave Coach Randy Waldrum mixed feelings.

"On the one hand, giving up five goals against any team is unacceptable, and I think all of us -- coaches and players -- understand that," he said. "At the same time, we did some good things offensively and scoring seven goals against a top-10 opponent is something to be pleased with. Either way, we're going to have a lot of things to take a look at on film, which is what you expect in the preseason."

The Irish open Friday against Wisconsin, then head to North Carolina for a rematch of its third-round game against the Tar Heels. After hosting its adidas Invitational, the Irish wrap up their non-conference schedule at Stanford and Santa Clara.

2011 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 19 Wisconsin, 5:30 p.m. ET
Carolina Classic
Aug. 26 at North Carolina, 7:00 p.m. ET
Aug. 28 vs. Duke, 1:00 p.m. ET
Notre Dame adidas Invitational
Sept. 2 vs. Tulsa, 7:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 4 vs. Indiana, 1:30 p.m. ET
Stanford Nike Invitational
Sept. 9 at Stanford, 10:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 11 at Santa Clara, 2:00 p.m. ET
Sept. 16 vs. Louisville *, 5:00 p.m. ET
Sept. 18 at Cincinnati *, 3:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 22 at South Florida *, 7:00 p.m. ET
Sept. 25 at Marquette *,  2:00 p.m. ET
Sept. 30 vs. Connecticut *, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 2 vs. Providence *, 1:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 7 at Seton Hall *, 7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 9 at Rutgers *, 12:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 14 vs. Georgetown *, 7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 16 vs. Villanova *, 1:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 21 vs. DePaul *, 7:30 p.m. ET
Big East Tournament
Oct. 27-30 First Round-Quarterfinals at campus sites TBA
Nov. 4-6 Semifinals-Final in Morgantown, W. Va. TBA
*Conference game.

Tomorrow: #3 North Carolina.

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