Nov. 20, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team continues its 2014 postseason march on Friday, taking on Texas in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Texas A&M’s Ellis Field in College Station, Texas. The Longhorn Network will televise the match (additional coverage on ESPN3), with Glenn Davis and 2001 Notre Dame All-American Monica Gonzalez (’01) on the call. Notre Dame and Texas will collide on the soccer pitch for the first time in their respective histories.
No. 4 seed Notre Dame (13-5-2) is making its 22nd consecutive NCAA Championship appearance this season, the second-longest active streak in the nation (North Carolina, 33 appearances, 1982-present). The Fighting Irish (three) and the Tar Heels (21) are the only teams to win three or more national championships since 1982.
Notre Dame advanced to College Station with a 1-0 win in frigid conditions last Friday over Valparaiso at Alumni Stadium. Sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted buried the lone goal of the night at 89:10 for the match-winner.
A win on Friday over Texas will vault Notre Dame into the third round of the NCAA Championship for the 18th time in program history, including nine of the past 10 seasons. The Fighting Irish last missed reaching the tournament’s third round in 2003, the year before winning the second of three women’s soccer national championships.
Texas (11-7-4), receiving votes in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire top 25 poll of the regular season, returns to the NCAA Championship for the 11th time in its history. The Longhorns have not earned a victory in the national tournament since 2008.
The winner of Friday’s contest advances to meet the winner of No. 1 seed Texas A&M (ranked fifth in the national polls) and Arizona on Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Championship at 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Ellis Field. Like Texas, Notre Dame and Arizona have never met in women’s soccer.
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.
Texas has outscored opponents by a 32-19 aggregate goal margin through 22 matches this season, adding a 373-270 shot advantage. The Longhorns are also a perfect 4-for-4 on penalty kick attempts in 2014.
Notre Dame and Texas have played two common opponents this season, with the Longhorns earning wins over Texas Tech (1-0, Sept. 26) and Baylor (2-1, Oct. 26). Texas advanced past Texas Tech on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship last weekend. Notre Dame dropped a 2-1 decision to Texas Tech on Aug. 29, but earned a solid 1-0 win over Baylor on Sept. 12 at Alumni Stadium.
Freshman forward Olivia Brook has enjoyed a stellar rookie season for Texas, logging a team-high seven goals and 16 points. Junior midfielder/forward Chantale Campbell ranks second on the Longhorns with 11 points (four goals, three assists), with junior midfielder Lindsey Meyer and senior defender Brooke Gilbert adding four goals and two assists (10 points) apiece.
Junior goalkeeper Abby Smith has appeared in all 21 matches this season for Texas, posting a 10-7-4 record between the pipes for the Longhorns. Smith has added a 0.87 goals-against average and .830 save percentage. Senior keeper Ava Vogel earned one win in her two match appearances during the regular season.
Head coach Angela Kelly is 36-23-8 (.597) in her third season at Texas, leading the program to its 11th NCAA Championship berth in 2014. Prior to arriving in Austin in the winter of 2011, Kelly posted a 160-84-20 (.644) record in 12 seasons at Tennessee, reaching the NCAA Championship nine times.
THE NOTRE DAME-TEXAS CONNECTION
Angela Kelly’s immediate predecessor was former Notre Dame head coach Chris Petrucelli, who led the Fighting Irish to the first national championship in program history in 1995 and was a two-time NSCAA National Coach of the Year (1994-95) in South Bend. Before departing to take over the women’s soccer program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 2012, Petrucelli compiled a 165-88-26 (.638) record with Texas from 1999-2011, leading the Longhorns to the 2001 Big 12 regular-season championship and 10 NCAA tournament appearances.
LAST TIME OUT: VALPARAISO (NCAA FIRST ROUND)
No. 12/11 Notre Dame improved to 8-0 all-time in home NCAA Championship matches at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish are now 14-2 (.875) in first round matches contested on their home field in NCAA play since 1993.
Notre Dame finished the contest with a dominant 25-1 shots edge over upset-minded Valparaiso, handing the Horizon League champion Crusaders their first loss in 19 matches. The Fighting Irish held a 9-0 shots on goal advantage, and attempted three corner kicks to none for Valparaiso.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: VALPARAISO
-Valparaiso managed only one official shot attempt during the match, the lowest opposing shot count allowed by Notre Dame over 20 matches in 2014. Conversely the Crusaders, who entered the NCAA Championship regarded as one of the top five defensive teams in the nation, surrendered 25 shots to the Fighting Irish attack.
-Goalkeeper Kaela Little earned her 12th shutout of the season over Valparaiso, extending what already was a career-high in her second season at Notre Dame without having to make a save. Of her 18.2 career clean sheets, Little has gone saveless on four occasions.
OLMSTED FINDS NEXT GEAR OVER THE PAST MONTH
Texas native Kaleigh Olmsted played perhaps her best match of 2014 just over one month ago in arguably the worst weather conditions that Notre Dame has been faced with this season. In a driving rain and forceful wind, Olmsted tallied an assist on the winning score and added an insurance goal in a 2-0 Fighting Irish win at Syracuse on Oct. 18. Since that performance, the sophomore attacker has not looked back.
Olmsted has added assists on the winning goal in a 1-0 decision against Louisville on Oct. 26 and in the semifinal round of the ACC Championship against Florida State (Nov. 7) before notching the lone goal in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Nov. 14. Olmsted’s 90th minute goal was her second career match-winner, and the first postseason goal of her young collegiate account, sparking Notre Dame’s hard-fought win.
THE IRISH MESS WITH TEXAS
Notre Dame is in search of its first ever win at Texas A&M’s Ellis Field, sporting an 0-2 mark in its first two neutral site tilts in College Station. Florida State outlasted the Fighting Irish 3-2 on Dec. 7, 2007 prior to North Carolina securing a 1-0 decision over Notre Dame on Dec. 4, 2009, with both contests taking place during the NCAA College Cup semifinals.
Two of Notre Dame’s three potential opponents at this weekend’s NCAA Championship stop would be first-time Fighting Irish foes. Notre Dame has never met Texas or Arizona in sanctioned varsity play.
NEXT UP FOR THE IRISH: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP THIRD ROUND