Sep 13, 2012, 4:36 PM EDT
Aside from those who study abroad, most college students are not overseas for their first three weeks of class. Every so often, however, there comes along an exception. This year, Notre Dame had two.
Junior Mandy Laddish and freshman Cari Roccaro had been in Japan since early-mid August playing on the FIFA Under-20 Women’s US Soccer Team. The tournament ran from Aug. 19 until Sept. 8, when they won a World Cup title against Germany. Roccaro, who was the second-youngest on the U.S. squad, played in five of six matches, four of which she started. Laddish played in three of six games, totaling 137 minutes of playing time.
Now that they’re back in South Bend, it’s time for them to put their focus back on their schoolwork and the Notre Dame team. Roccaro missed the first three weeks of her freshman year, including orientation. She not only has to catch up in her classes and rejoin a mid-season soccer team; she also has to get used to a new campus and a new life.
Laddish, who will also have to re-adjust to classes and the team, is in her own unique situation. As she was a freshman on the Notre Dame team in 2010, she now has an NCAA Championship and a World Cup on her resume. Very few female soccer players have this distinction.
The transition back onto the Notre Dame team isn’t one just for Roccaro and Laddish; the rest of the team, half of which are freshman (who head coach Randy Waldrum calls “Baby Irish”), have to adjust to having two starters back. Coach Waldrum spoke on the issue.
All along we’ve talked to our players about when [Cari and Mandy] return, they were going to step back in and play, so we’ve prepared them for that. I think what they’ve questioned is wondering whose spots they’d take….It’s not like we have these big, gaping holes that Mandy and Cari are going to come back and fill for us. They’re going to replace some players, but those players are going to continue to play….What it does is it adds two starters to your team which makes your depth a little bit better.
Waldrum also stated that the team chemistry should not be an issue. He expects no hostility between players when Laddish and Roccaro return to their starting positions on Friday against Louisville. On the other hand, he does anticipate that the two might miss a few practices in order to catch up with classes, which he will generously allow them to do. (Student comes before athlete.)
Less than a month into the season, big things are happening for the Fighting Irish. If the already strong, yet young, team is not reason enough to watch Notre Dame women’s soccer, the fact that two world champions are now playing should help.
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