While most Michigan students spent their fall study break relaxing and catching up on work, the Michigan women’s soccer team found itself in the throes of preparation for what could be one of their most challenging games of the year.
Today’s matchup against No. 23 Notre Dame will be a test for the 13th ranked Wolverines, who have yet to triumph in a contest with the Irish.
“Though we’ve never beaten Notre Dame, the gap between us is closing every year,” coach Debbie Rademacher said.
Last season, Michigan suffered a crushing 2-1 overtime loss to the Irish in South Bend, Ind. But this year Michigan will have the advantage of playing on its home turf at Varsity Field, and the Wolverines are prepared to beat Notre Dame for the first time.
“Playing at home is nice,” Rademacher said. “Unfortunately, the game is at four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. We’re still hoping that people will have caught up with their work by then and that we’ll get some loyal fans to come out on a school day.”
Defeating Notre Dame has been the Wolverines’ goal since the beginning of the season.
“Beating Notre Dame has been a team focus since the start of the season,” Rademacher said.
Exactly why is Michigan so hung up on beating the Fighting Irish? Aside from an unbroken winning streak against the Wolverines, Notre Dame (3-3 Big East overall, 8-6 overall), has trounced such teams as No. 8 Connecticut by a score of 3-1.
The Fighting Irish also have several key players that the Wolverines have their eyes on. These include Canadian National Team member, Candace Chapman, forward Amanda Guertin and leading scorer Amy Warner, who has tallied eight goals so far this season.
This break from conference action will provide, at the very least, an opportunity to play against some fierce competition.
“They are a very fast, very technical team,” Rademacher said. “They have a great program.”
But Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 11-3 overall) has the advantage in confidence that accompanies having a better record. Aside from this, the Wolverines are divulging little about their assets.
“We don’t want to reveal our weapons,” Rademacher said.
The outlook for today’s game is certainly a good one and the combination of higher rankings, more wins and the home field advantage could make the outcome different than in years past.
“The team is enthusiastic about the game,” Rademacher said. “Our intensity is high, and we feel that we can match well with Notre Dame, and succeed. We are excited to win and play a good team.”