Elizabeth Tucker, a four-year monogram recipient and two-time captain on the University of Notre Dame women's soccer team from 2010-13, has been selected as one of nine finalists for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year award. Tucker is the first Fighting Irish student-athlete ever to be named a finalist for the honor.

#10/5 Irish Continue Homestand Sunday Against Northwestern

Aug 24, 2013

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#10/5 NOTRE DAME “Fighting Irish” (1-0-0/0-0-0 ACC) vs. NORTHWESTERN “Wildcats” (0-1-0/0-0-0 Big Ten)

DATE: Aug. 25, 2013
TIME: 3:30 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium – cap. 3,007)
SERIES: ND leads 4-0-0 (3-0-0 at ND)
LAST MEETING: ND 2-1 (9/19/10 at NU)
TWITTER: @NDsoccernews
TEXT ALERTS: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: Call (574) 631-7356, visit UND.com/tickets, or stop by the Alumni Stadium tickets windows on match day ($5 adults/$3 youths-seniors/free for all ND/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross students)

Take one glance at a map of the Midwest and it’s clear that South Bend and Chicago aren’t next door to one another. However, when it comes to the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, the Windy City might as well be right around the corner.

Since the Fighting Irish first took the pitch in 1988, 23 different players from the state of Illinois have donned the Notre Dame colors, tying with Indiana for third-most among any state in the Union behind only California and Texas (31 apiece). What’s more, of the 23 Illinois natives to play for the Fighting Irish, all but one have come from the Chicagoland area, the exception being Bloomington resident Jenny Walz, who suited up from 2002-05.

The list of Windy City products that have matriculated to Notre Dame represents a who’s-who of Fighting Irish women’s soccer, led by All-Americans such as Alison Lester (1990-93), Jen Grubb (1996-99), Jen Buczkowski (2003-06) and Brittany Bock (2005-08), and a current crop of Chicagoans that includes junior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva), sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) and sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy).

So as Notre Dame prepares to take on Windy City program Northwestern on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET at Alumni Stadium), it’s yet another reminder that the Fighting Irish standard of excellence that has endured for more than a quarter of a century is due in no small part to that large city just 90 miles up the road.

“Chicago is deeply embedded with great soccer history, much like the St. Louis area,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Even before the success of the Chicago Sting (who played in the now-defunct North American Soccer League), the city was producing some of the best soccer in the country. Chicago has continued to evolve and now it’s home to some of the top youth clubs in the U.S., clubs such as Eclipse Select, Sockers FC Chicago, Chicago Fire Juniors and NSA (Naperville Soccer Association). These clubs have great coaching and the kids we get from there are very prepared for the college game. That’s a credit to those coaches and clubs. I think obviously the Chicago area is our largest area of alumni support in the country, and people in the area grow up with Notre Dame. With the media coverage we receive there, with our academics that are provided here, and of course with our athletic programs, players in Chicago can get everything they want in a university without having to go too far from home.”

One of the top coaches in the Chicagoland area is Rory Dames, who has achieved a great deal of success as the Director of Coaching at Eclipse Select since 1996. Recently, he also has stepped into managing on the professional level with the Chicago Red Stars, first in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite League, and now in the newly-formed National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Through the years, Dames has helped groom several talented Notre Dame players, including Scofield, who first played for Dames with Eclipse Select (electing to forgo competing at the high school level in favor of a full-time club career) and then later when Dames took the reins with the Red Stars in 2011. Scofield has become one of the cornerstones of the Fighting Irish defense in her first two seasons, playing in all 46 Notre Dame matches to date and starting the past 35 contests, and she also was a standout with the Red Stars, helping them to the WPSL finals in 2011 and 2012 (earning WPSL All-Championship Team honors in ’11, the lone player on that squad who had yet to play a minute of college soccer).

“Eclipse really made me the player I am today because it required us to play at such a high level each and every day,” Scofield said. “I also owe a lot to Rory (Dames). He was always taking me out of my comfort zone and demanding more from me each time I played. He really pushed me to grow as a player so I could compete at the college level.

“I chose Notre Dame because the school had such a strong tradition that I wanted to be a part of,” she continued. “I believe it’s the perfect place to win a national championship and the academic aspects it has to offer are second to none.”

The Fighting Irish also have found top talent with Sockers FC Chicago, a club that produced both Naughton and Thomas. The pair were instrumental in Notre Dame’s run to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals last year, with Thomas leading the Fighting Irish in scoring (10 goals, two assists) and Naughton teaming with Scofield on a Notre Dame defense that posted 10 shutouts and yielded just four goals in its final eight matches.

“Chicago excels in soccer because of the commitment to develop their players, which results from so many talented players and teams in the area,” Thomas said. “Chicago’s club programs are so strong and they all compete at a high level, which only makes the level of competition better. Many clubs, including the one I played for (Sockers FC), allow their coaches to focus more on developing the tactical, technical and physical elements of the game, instead of just trying to overpower the competition with athleticism, which won’t help in the long run as players get older, taller and more physical.

“Coming to Notre Dame from Chicago, both offer wonderful possibilities in terms of academics, athletics, church and community,” she continued. “Overall, Chicagoans are very informed about the tradition of excellence that is offered at the University, both academically and athletically. In addition, their close proximity allows students and faculty to take advantage of the City while still enjoying the close community offered by Notre Dame.”

“The city of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs were a great place to grow up playing soccer because of the diverse styles of play that one would come across,” Naughton said. “Chicago is somewhat of a melting pot, bringing people together from all different walks of life, and that’s great for the sport of soccer because people from different parts of the country, or world, have an impact on the way you play growing up. There are hundreds of clubs in the Chicagoland area, each with a different style of play. This was almost a luxury growing up because you could pick any club you wanted, depending on the style of play you preferred.

“I chose Notre Dame because I felt the style of play here complemented the style I was familiar with back home,” she added. “I also knew we would play some very talented teams, each with their own style, so being exposed to different types of play growing up helped prepare me for what was in store.”

All four of Notre Dame’s Chicago natives (including freshman midfielder Cindy Pineda) saw action in Friday’s season-opening 4-1 win over No. RV/25 Illinois, with Scofield and Naughton earning starting nods. The quartet also should see extensive time on Sunday against a Northwestern side that dropped a tough 2-1 double-overtime decision at home to Western Illinois on Friday night. The Wildcats, who return 24 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from last year’s squad, will be facing the Fighting Irish for the first time since Notre Dame swept a home-and-home series between the clubs in 2009 (2-0 at Alumni Stadium) and 2010 (2-1 at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill.).

Northwestern is in its second season under head coach Michael Moynihan, who took over in Evanston after a successful 15-year run at the helm of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While with the Panthers, he faced Notre Dame three times, dropping all three, most recently a 3-0 verdict early in the 2010 season.

“Mike (Moynihan) is a very good coach, and he just took over last season, so he is still rebuilding this team to fit his style and to get his players there,” Waldrum said. “I expect them to be very disciplined and very hard-working. Coming off that loss on Friday, it will be a big game for them in terms of righting the ship. We have to be careful not to underestimate them, as often times, the wounded put up the best fight. They have some very talented players, including (senior forward Kate) Allen up front, who scored most of their goals last year (team-high seven), so we’ll have to make sure that we are aware of her at all times.”

Melissa Henderson set up Notre Dame’s first goal and converted the eventual match-winner on a penalty kick midway through the first half as the No. 7/11 Fighting Irish completed a weekend sweep of Chicago-area teams with a 2-1 victory over Northwestern on Sept. 19, 2010, at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill.

Tucker completed the best weekend of her young career with the opening goal of the day in the fifth minute (she scored twice in a win at DePaul two days earlier). Rose Augustin wasn’t officially credited with an assist on Henderson’s goal, but it was her pinpoint lead pass that sprang the speedy Notre Dame striker behind the Northwestern defense and led to the penalty kick.

Goalkeeper Nikki Weiss made one save, but didn’t face much in the way of offensive pressure between the Wildcats’ goal, which came 36 seconds after Tucker’s score, and the final 10 minutes of the match, when Northwestern pushed up a third attacker in an effort to draw level.

Wildcats’ netminder Carolyn Edwards was credited with three saves, in addition to a team save for Northwestern. Edwards also was issued a yellow card for bringing down Henderson on a breakaway in the box, resulting in the 21st-minute penalty kick that proved to be the difference.

Notre Dame led in all of the statistical categories, outshooting the Wildcats, 11-6, with three of NU’s six shots coming during its frantic late-match push. The Fighting Irish also led in shots on goal (6-2), corner kicks (5-0) and fouls (11-9).

Sunday will mark the fifth time Notre Dame and Northwestern have met on the soccer pitch, with the Fighting Irish holding a 4-0 series lead against the Wildcats and an 18-2 scoring aggregate in those four contests … Notre Dame also is 3-0 against Northwestern in South Bend … Northwestern is making its first visit to Alumni Stadium since Sept. 20, 2009, when Notre Dame registered a 2-0 victory behind goals early in both halves from Courtney Barg and Julie Scheidler, respectively … Notre Dame is 70-11-3 (.851) all-time against Big Ten Conference opponents, including a 46-6-2 (.870) record at home … the Fighting Irish have won 13 of their last 15 matches against Big Ten teams … Notre Dame is unbeaten in 53 of its last 60 matches on Sunday (47-7-6, .833), dating back to September 2007, when the Fighting Irish lost three consecutive Sunday matches to nationally-ranked Stanford, Oklahoma State and Penn State, all by 2-1 scores and the first two in overtime … the first 100 students to attend Sunday’s match against Northwestern will receive free gift cards to McDonald’s, and the winner of Sunday’s halftime promotion will earn a free semester of books.

Freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) collected a goal and an assist in her first college match to help No. 10/5 Notre Dame roll to a 4-1 victory over No. RV/25 Illinois in the season opener for both teams on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.

The Fighting Irish (1-0-0) featured a balanced scoring attack, as junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) and senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) also opened their goal scoring accounts on Friday. Junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) earned a point by picking up the assist on Bohaboy’s tally.

“I was really pleased with our attacking creativity for the first game,” Waldrum said. “We had more movement and creativity than we did all of last year, and we created so many scoring opportunities. I thought our forwards played very well for us, and at the moment we have five that give us great depth. Simonian, Bohaboy, Gilbertson, Thomas, and Olmsted all played well for us.

Notre Dame nearly doubled up Illinois in total shots (25-13) and shots on goal (13-7), while compiling a 6-1 edge on corner kicks. The Fighting Irish also had twice as many fouls as the visitors (8-4), although Illinois did receive the lone yellow card of the match.

Another Fighting Irish freshman, goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley), registered her first collegiate win, going the distance in the Notre Dame net and making six saves.

“(Freshman midfielder) Morgan Andrews started to show her talent in midfield,” Waldrum said. “Some of the quality she showed on her passing was outstanding. Her long-range passing to spring forwards in behind the defense was very good. She is going to be very dangerous for us and her tactical understanding or her soccer IQ is very high. Katie (Naughton) and Sammy (Scofield) were very good for us defensively, and (junior defender Taylor) Schneider and Tucker on the outsides gave us a very good attacking presence out of defense. Kaela (Little) continues to impress in goal with her command, her presence, and with her kicking game.

“We made a very good team look rather average as I believe Illinois will have some great results this season,” he noted. “We neutralized (Illinois’ Hermann Trophy candidate and senior midfielder Vanessa) DiBernardo and really kept her from dictating play. My only disappointment was conceding a goal off their only corner of the game. We have to correct our defending of set pieces and force teams to have to break us down in the run of play.”

The Fighting Irish continue to sparkle in their first match of the season, improving to 22-3-1 (.865) all-time on opening night, including a 12-2-1 (.833) record under Waldrum … Bohaboy scored 4:22 into the first half, the fourth-fastest season-opening goal in Notre Dame women’s soccer history, and the quickest since Aug. 26, 2006, when eventual Hermann Trophy recipient Kerri Hanks set a program record by scoring 1:19 into a 9-0 win over Iowa State at old Alumni Field … the Fighting Irish registered their highest goal output in a season opener since Aug. 22, 2008, when they debuted with a 7-0 rout of Michigan, also at old Alumni Field … Olmsted was the first Fighting Irish freshman to score a goal in a season opener since that 2008 win over Michigan, when both Henderson and Ellen Jantsch found the back of the net in their first college outings … Olmsted was the first Notre Dame player with a multi-point match in the season opener since Aug. 19, 2011 (Henderson goal and assist in 2-0 win over Wisconsin at Alumni Stadium) and the first Fighting Irish rookie to do so since the 2006 win over Iowa State (Michele Weissenhofer had two goals and two assists) … Little became the second Notre Dame freshman goalkeeper in as many years to start the season opener, following in the footsteps of another Oklahoma product, current sophomore Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) … Little was the first Notre Dame rookie netminder to win a season opener since the 2006 Iowa State victory, when Kelsey Lysander went the distance and made two saves.

Late Thursday, Waldrum announced that Laddish and fellow senior Elizabeth Tucker, along with sophomore defender Katie Naughton, have been selected as Notre Dame’s captains for the 2013 season, following a vote by their teammates. Laddish and Tucker both served as captains last year, while Naughton is the first Fighting Irish sophomore to earn the captain’s armband since 2009, when another center back, Jessica Schuveiller, ascended to the captaincy, a role she would hold for her final three seasons.

“I think all three of them will do a great job as captains,” Waldrum said. “It wasn’t really a surprise that Mandy and Elizabeth were chosen again, but it still speaks to the respect that their teammates have for them to be selected for a second year. As for Katie, it’s great to get her in the captain’s role as one of the team’s younger players, because it will allow her to grow and develop in that leadership spot, something she can carry over next year and beyond after Mandy and Elizabeth graduate. I’m very happy with all of the leaders we have on this team and it should be a real strength of ours this year.”

Henderson picked the perfect time to score her first NWSL goal, finding the back of the net in the 25th minute, but it wasn’t enough as FC Kansas City fell to Portland Thorns FC, 3-2 in overtime, in the NWSL semifinals on Saturday in Overland Park, Kan.

Henderson’s goal had given the hosts a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, but the Blues (who also featured Buczkowski among their starting XI) couldn’t hang on, as Portland rallied with goals in each half, plus the winner late in the first half of overtime to secure its place in the league’s inaugural championship match. Henderson came off for a substitute in the final 15 minutes of regulation, while Buczkowski played all 120 minutes in defeat.

Bock will be looking to carry the Notre Dame colors into the NWSL final, as she leads Sky Blue FC into the second league semifinal late on Saturday (8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 2) at Western New York. Bock, who has started five of seven matches she has played in this season in a campaign plagued by injury, is listed as probable on Sky Blue FC’s pre-match injury report.

The Fighting Irish will kick off play in the 22nd annual Notre Dame adidas Invitational at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when they play host to Oakland at Alumni Stadium. No. 14/13 Marquette and No. 5/3 UCLA will tangle in the tournament opener at 5 p.m. (ET), also at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame is 32-6-2 all-time in its home tournament, having won the title 14 times in the previous 21 seasons, most recently in 2011. Oakland and UCLA are making their first appearances in the adidas Invitational, while Marquette participated in 2009, finishing tied for second with Notre Dame after splitting outings with Milwaukee (2-0 win) and North Carolina (1-0 loss).

Season and single-match tickets for the 2013 Notre Dame women’s soccer campaign may be purchased through the University’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets. Groups wishing to attend Fighting Irish soccer matches also can receive a discounted ticket rate — contact Rita Baxter in the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office to learn more.

For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.

— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director