By BILL PALMER
Meghan Doyle knew what she was getting into when she signed her letter of intent to play women’s soccer at Notre Dame.
A two-time state Class AA state co-player of the year while at Niskayuna High School, Doyle has found playing minutes tough to come by. But she says the experience has been worth it.
“I’m just a freshman,” Doyle said in a recent phone interview. “I wanted to get better, and I knew it would be competitive.”
The commitment to playing at the top level of women’s college soccer meant Doyle would miss her final week of high school, saying goodbye to friends early in the week of her graduation before returning for the ceremony.
“I was out here before graduation,” Doyle said. “It was part of the commitment. I came back home for graduation, then was right back here.
“I came for summer school, and to get to know the girls and get used to going to class and training.”
Doyle’s playing time has been very limited, so far. She has appeared in two exhibition games, getting 19 minutes against Illinois St. and 16 against Northwestern.
She hasn’t gotten into a regular-season game since an Aug. 31 contest with USC.
Fighting Irish coach Theresa Romagnol has Doyle playing in a different role than she was used in high school.
“I got in as an outside midfielder and center midfielder,” said Doyle, who scored 18 of her 65 varsity goals in her senior year as Niskayuna reached the Class AA regional final. During her four seasons, Niskayuna went 51-2-1.
The fact that one-third of the 33-player Fighting Irish roster are freshmen has made the fight for playing time more intense.
“There are 11 freshmen,” said Doyle, who is also an accomplished Irish step dancer. “We could field a team all by ourselves.”
Like any newcomer to the college game, Doyle has had to adjust to a lesser role than she enjoyed as a high school standout, as well as getting acclimated to the college game.
“The biggest difference is definitely the speed and physicality,” Doyle said. “It’s definitely a lot faster than high school and club soccer.”
Doyle was left off the travel roster for recent games at Pittsburgh and Syracuse, two of Notre Dame’s games closest to the Capital Region.
“It would have been nice [to make those travel rosters], because it’s closer to home,” she said. “But I knew nothing was guaranteed. You have to work for everything at this level.”
Doyle is taking business classes, but has not declared a major.
“Right now, I’m in business classes, but I’m not sure yet what I want to do,” she said.
As for the campus in South Bend, Ind., Doyle is sure she made the right choice.
“Absolutely. I love it so much,” she said.
Doyle plans to work hard in practice the remainder of this season, absorb as much as she can about the college game, then make a bid for more playing time her sophomore season.
“You have to work hard every day,” she said. “Hopefully, you get rewarded for your work in practice.”