Sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little won 13 games and posted eight total shutouts during her first season at Notre Dame in 2013

#16 Irish Host Illinois State On Monday To Open Exhibition Schedule

Aug. 10, 2014

2014 ND Women’s Soccer — Exhibition 1
#16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-8-1 in 2013 / 7-5-1 ACC) vs. Illinois State Redbirds (14-7-1 in 2013 / 6-0-0 Missouri Valley)

DATE: August 11, 2014
TIME: 3 p.m. ET
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium – cap. 3,007)
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TICKETS: Free for exhibitions


  • Notre Dame is 13-3-3 in exhibitions vs. college teams since the start of the 1999 season, including an 8-0-2 record at home.
  • Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last six exhibition matches (5-0-1; 4-0-1 at home) dating back to 2011.
  • Monday’s match will be the first meeting (regular season or fall exhibition) between Notre Dame and Illinois State, as well as the first women’s soccer fall exhibition game played at Alumni Stadium since the facility opened during the 2009 season.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The wait is nearly over for the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team. A new era for the program is officially set to begin for the No. 16 Fighting Irish when the team travels to Illinois on Aug. 22 for the regular season opener, but fans can catch a first glimpse of the 2014 Notre Dame squad on Monday at 3 p.m. (ET) during an exhibition match against Illinois State at Alumni Stadium.

Admission for Monday’s exhibition game is free, and fans can purchase tickets for the 2014 Fighting Irish regular season schedule by calling (574) 631-7356 or going online to

Monday’s contest is the first of two exhibition games on this season’s Notre Dame schedule, and will be the first fall exhibition that the women’s soccer team has ever hosted inside of Alumni Stadium in the six-year history of the facility.

“Overall I am really happy with where we’re at, and we’ve been pushing them really hard,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “The scrimmage gives us a chance to get out there and play against someone other than ourselves early on, and someone (in Illinois State) that we don’t know that much about being that it’s the first game of the year. For us it’s going to be getting a look at different people, unique combinations on the field, to see where people will go.”

Notre Dame (13-8-1 in 2013) opened its 2014 fall camp last Wednesday, and have participated in seven training sessions on the ND Practice Field to kick-start the preseason. With less than seven days to prepare before the first scheduled fall exhibition the match with Illinois State will be a collective learning experience for the Fighting Irish, providing an opportunity to gauge early progress against fresh opposition.

“Monday’s game is a lot more about what we’re going to do, trying some different people on the field, to get ready for our season opener at Illinois,” Romagnolo said. “We will try to see what is and isn’t working, and also let the players learn on the fly.”

Romagnolo said that the exhibition games being on the schedule so early in fall camp are a positive in terms of getting a variety of players practical game experience. A detriment is that the early organized games shorten the amount of time a team has to evaluate its lineup and other personnel in fall camp, both points of interest that the Notre Dame coaching staff will analyze against Illinois State and at Northwestern on Aug. 16 in the preseason exhibition finale in Evanston, Ill.

“In a normal game you have your starting 11 that is pretty set going in, along with several substitutions planned over the course of the game,” Romagnolo said. “This is more of a situation where we are going to look at a lot of people in different positions. We want to see what everyone can do.

“It is really so early in the preseason that we want to give everyone an opportunity, they have all been working hard,” she added. “We want to put them in a game environment and see how they compete, with officials and being inside the stadium, everything that goes along with that.”

Romagnolo, who was named the fourth head coach in the 27-year history of Notre Dame women’s soccer in March, guided the Fighting Irish to four victories during the spring season to unofficially begin her tenure at the helm of the program. The anticipation of the start to the new season, now less than two weeks away, has the attention of both the team and its new mentor.

“It’s really exciting, we wait the whole year for the fall and we’re finally here,” Romagnolo said. “I am excited to see, since I didn’t recruit the freshman class, what they can do when thrown into that game environment. We also want our returners to continue doing the things that we have talked about them doing.”

Early Notre Dame training sessions thus far in fall camp have featured a number of positive traits, high intensity, crisp execution and continued improvement in all phases of the game. The intensity level has been so high that Romagnolo said she and assistant coaches Dawn Siergiej and Diego Bocanegra have adjusted practice plans to fall in line with the team’s output on the field.

“In some ways, maybe we haven’t played as much 11-on-11 in practice as I would have liked because they have exuded so much energy,” Romagnolo said. “I think we’ve had to actually pull back a little bit in terms of how much playing we are doing in our actual practices. For me (on Monday), it’s nice to have the chance to put the team out in a game setting and let them go.”

Illinois State, making its first appearance at Alumni Stadium, will meet Notre Dame for the first time in exhibition or regular season play. The Redbirds posted a 14-7-1 record in 2013 under head coach Drew Roff, including a perfect 6-0 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play, on their way to a third straight conference tournament championship triumph. Illinois State returns 17 players from last season’s roster that ultimately reached the second round of the 2013 NCAA Championship before falling to then No. 11 Michigan 3-0 on Nov. 22 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“We are looking for our attacking mentality to be very aggressive,” Romagnolo said. “We want to see the players go 1-V-1 when they have isolation, and we want to see the midfield continue to get involved when they have the ball. The back four also needs to be very strong in terms of denying shots and denying crosses, organizing the field for us. As a team we really want a great defensive effort, pressing the ball, forcing turnovers and looking to counter and go to goal.”


  • Notre Dame is ranked No. 16 in the preseason NSCAA poll.
  • Illinois State is not ranked in the preseason NSCAA poll.

News And Notes

  • Notre Dame enters its 27th season of varsity competition in 2014. The Fighting Irish have a 492-96-28 (.821) all-time record with 21 NCAA Championship appearances, including 12 trips to the Women’s College Cup, eight berths in the NCAA title match and three national championships (second-most in NCAA Division I history).
  • Notre Dame returns 18 monogram winners, including seven-of-11 starters, from last year’s team that posted a 13-8-1 record and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the 21st consecutive season, the second-longest active streak (and third-longest overall run) in tournament history. The Fighting Irish also logged a 7-5-1 league clip during the program’s first season of competition as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2013.
  • Notre Dame welcomes 11 freshmen to its 33-member roster for the 2014 season, and the Fighting Irish incoming class was ranked No. 3 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer in Feb. The Notre Dame Class of 2018 includes defender Paige Crowley (Los Gatos, Calif./Saint Francis), forward Meghan Doyle (Niskayuna, N.Y./Niskayuna), defender Monica Flores (Livingston, N.J./Livingston), defender/midfielder Sabrina Flores (Livingston, N.J./Livingston), forward Kaitlin Klawunder (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita), midfielder Taylor Klawunder (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita), midfielder Megan McCashland (Lincoln, Neb./Lincoln Southwest), defender Ginny McGowan (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest), forward Karin Muya (London, England/Burntwood School), goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley) and midfielder/defender Katie Uhler (San Antonio, Texas/Saint Mary’s Hall).
  • Notre Dame junior tri-captains Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) and Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) are currently competing for the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada, which began on Aug. 5 and runs through Aug. 24 in Canada. The U.S. U-20 WNT posted a 1-1 record in its first two matches to open play in Group B, with Roccaro (team captain for both matches) and Naughton playing the full 180 minutes on defense.
  • Along with Roccaro and Naughton, senior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) will serve as the third Notre Dame captain this season.

Scouting Illinois State
Illinois State returns 17 players from its 2013 team that went 14-7-1, won a third straight Missouri Valley Conference Championship and reached the second round of the NCAA Championship. Senior forward Rachel Tejada (15 goals, 12 assists, 42 points) and sophomore forward Hannah Leinert (16 goals, six assists, 38 points) lead all returning scorers for the Redbirds. Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Aryn Newsom was 14-6-1 with a 1.33 goals against average and seven solo shutouts in 2013.

Notre Dame Returns Bulk Of Offense From 2013
Returning Fighting Irish players accounted for 36 of the team’s 45 goals in 2013, with Notre Dame returners also logging an even 100 total points (of a possible 133 points) last season. In fact, four of the team’s top five goal scorers from a year ago, sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) and senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), seven; Cari Roccaro, five; and senior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke), four, are back for the Fighting Irish in 2014.

Andrews led all Notre Dame players with 19 total points (seven goals, five assists) in 22 starts as a freshman last season. Junior defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) paced all returners with six assists in 2013.

Familiar Goalkeepers Contending To Play In Net
Four of Notre Dame’s five goalkeepers on the 2014 squad have logged multiple career appearances between the pipes for the Fighting Irish during their respective careers, with freshman Lexi Nicholas being the only newcomer. Seniors Jennifer Jasper (Fort Worth, Texas/Trinity Valley School) and Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John’s Country Day School) return for their fourth seasons on the Notre Dame roster, while junior Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuiness) is expected to return after missing the entire 2013 slate due to injury. Hight was 10-5-1 with a 0.63 goals against average in 17 games (16 starts) as a freshman in 2012.

Sophomore Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) is the incumbent in net after logging a 13-8-1 mark in 22 starts as a freshman last season. Little added a 0.89 goals against average and eight total shutouts in more than 2,000 minutes of playing time during her rookie campaign.


— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant