Sept. 3, 2009
2009 ND Women’s Soccer — Game 3
#2/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0-0 / 0-0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #1/1 North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0-0 / 0-0-0 ACC)
DATE: September 4, 2009
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Alumni Stadium (2,500)
SERIES: UNC leads 10-4-2
1ST MTG: UNC 3-0 (10/15/93)
LAST MTG: UNC 2-1 (12/7/08)
AUDIO: UND.com (live) (Michael Scholl, p-b-p / Tom Staudt, color)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356 / UND.com/tickets
- Top-ranked UNC travels to second-ranked Notre Dame for just the third time (and first in a decade) as the Irish make their debut in the brand-new Alumni Stadium.
- The rivals last met in the 2008 NCAA College Cup Championship match, with UNC earning a last-minute 2-1 victory in Cary, N.C., to deny the Irish their first perfect season.
Second-Ranked Irish Host No. 1 North Carolina In High-Octane Alumni Stadium Opener
One — it’s the difference that separates No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Notre Dame in the national polls. It’s also the margin that has decided the past five games (and six of the last seven) between the two college soccer superpowers. On Friday at 7:30 p.m. (ET), the Irish and Tar Heels will square off once again, this time on the opening night of the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic, under the backdrop of last year’s NCAA title-game finish and the debut of Notre Dame’s state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium.
The Irish (2-0) last played on Aug. 28, defeating Loyola-Chicago, 2-0 in the final game at Alumni Field, the 19-year home of Notre Dame soccer located 500 yards east of the new facility. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson scored in the first half, and sophomore defender Molly Campbell added an insurance tally three minutes into the second half for the Irish, while senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander made three saves to preserve the shutout.
- Notre Dame is ranked second in the NSCAA poll and fourth in the Soccer America poll.
- North Carolina is ranked No. 1 in both polls.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
After driving all the way to the doorstep of history in 2008 with a magical 26-1-0 season that culminated just short of a national championship, Notre Dame returns many of the same players that helped propel the Fighting Irish to the top of the college soccer world for much of last year.
Not only does Notre Dame bring back 19 monogram winners and seven starters, but of those 19 returnees, 15 of them have starting experience under their belt. What’s more, the Fighting Irish have more than 60 percent of their goalscoring (52 of 83) back in the fold, along with many of the defenders that were responsible for registering 18 shutouts and a 0.44 goals-against average (both among the top five marks in school history).
Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (17G-2A in 2008) was tabbed the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is one of 45 preseason candidates for the Hermann Trophy after a stellar rookie campaign that included five gamewinning goals, the last coming in overtime of the BIG EAST Championship game against Connecticut.
Junior midfielders Rose Augustin (6G-2A) and Erica Iantorno (5G-7A) also likely will factor in Notre Dame’s offensive attack this season. Meanwhile, junior holding midfielder Lauren Fowlkes (1G), another preseason Hermann Trophy choice, and sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller (1G-1A) will anchor the Fighting Irish backline.
They will be supported by senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander, who set a single-season school record with 26 victories last season (and shared another record with 18 total shutouts). Lysander also ranked sixth in the nation last season with a 0.44 GAA and was named to the ’08 NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team.
Scouting The Tar Heels
North Carolina enters Friday’s clash as the top-ranked team in the country and boasts a 3-0 record to start its 2009 campaign. The Tar Heels opened the season with a 7-2 win over then-No. 3 UCLA on August 22. The following weekend, North Carolina blanked Central Florida, 4-0, and UNC-Greensboro, 1-0, in the Carolina Nike Classic. All three Tar Heel wins have come at home.
Thus far, eight Tar Heels have netted goals on the season, led by senior midfielder Tobin Heath, who has three goals. Heath also has two assists, giving her a team-best eight points. Sophomore forward Courtney Jones has registered two goals and three assists for seven points. Senior Ashlyn Harris has played the majority of the minutes in the Tar Heel net, posting a 3-0 record, recording one solo shutout and registering a 0.37 GAA to go along with two saves.
In North Carolina’s most recent game against UNCG, senior midfielder Nikki Washington scored the game-winning goal in the 57th minute off assists from Ali Hawkins and Meghan Klingenberg following a corner kick by Casey Nogueira at the 56:18 mark. The Tar Heel defense posted its second consecutive clean sheet, with Harris recording her first solo shutout since the 2007 season.
North Carolina is led by head coach Anson Dorrance, who is in the midst of his 30th season behind the Tar Heel bench. His teams have an all-time record of 648-32-19 (.941) and he has guided UNCÃ¢â‚¬Ë†to 19 national championships.
The Notre Dame-North Carolina Series
Notre Dame and North Carolina have played 16 times, with UNC holding a 10-4-2 edge in those games, although the Irish have won two of the past three series contests. Of the 16 all-time meetings, eight have come in NCAA Championship play, including five with the College Cup Championship on the line (1994, ’96, ’99, 2006 and ’08). Additionally, four of the 16 have gone to overtime (ND is 1-2-1 in those OT contests), while 11 of the 16 have been decided by one goal or fewer, including the past five (and six of the seven in the Randy Waldrum era from 1999 to present).
The teams met twice last season, with Notre Dame and North Carolina each earning a win. The Irish proved victorious on Sept. 5, when they knocked off North Carolina, 1-0, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Brittany Bock scored the game-winning strike at 50:21 on that day and Kelsey Lysander made three saves to preserve the win.
Three months later in the NCAA Championship match at Cary, N.C., the Tar Heels earned a come-from-behind 2-1 win to erase Notre Dame’s run at a perfect season. The Irish jumped out to an early lead when Kerri Hanks scored off a Courtney Rosen cross just 16 seconds into the match (the fastest score in NCAA finals history), but UNC’s Casey Nogueira netted goals at 51:08 and 87:54 to secure the win. Notre Dame returns seven starters from that championship matchup and four other players who came off the bench, while the Tar Heels return nine starters and three players who appeared as substitutes in that contest.
Notre Dame and North Carolina first met in Houston, Texas on October 15, 1993 when UNC came up with a 3-0 win. The Tar Heels will be making just their third visit all time to Notre Dame, having earned a win and a tie in their previous two visits (2-2 in 1997 and 3-2 in double overtime in 1999).
No. 1 vs. No. 2
Friday night’s matchup marks the first time in the 11-year tenure of head coach Randy Waldrum that his Irish squad will be involved in a clash of the top two ranked teams (according to the NSCAA poll) in the country — although Notre Dame and North Carolina met in the 2006 NCAA title game while each holding a No. 1 ranking in different polls (the Irish topped the NSCAA survey, while the Tar Heels led the others).
Notre Dame is 1-3-2 all-time in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups, with all six meetings pitting the Irish against UNC. What’s more, only once in those six prior contests has the top-ranked team emerged victorious (the most recent encounter on Sept. 13, 1998, when top-ranked North Carolina downed second-ranked Notre Dame, 5-1, in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Perhaps the most memorable of these 1-2 contests between the Irish and Tar Heels was one that didn’t feature a single goal — the 0-0 tie on Oct. 2, 1994 in St. Louis. Behind goalkeeper Jen Renola’s 11 saves, Notre Dame snaps UNC’s NCAA-record 92-game winning streak, the third time an Irish squad had broken an NCAA-record success string (joining football’s 1957 win at Oklahoma that ended the Sooners’ 47-game streak, and Digger Phelps’ 1974 men’s basketball team that stopped UCLA’s 88-game run).
It should be noted that on several others occasions, the Irish (when ranked either first or second in the NSCAA poll) have faced an opponent ranked either first or second in another poll (as was the case in the aforementioned ’06 NCAA final vs. UNC).
It’s Been A Long Time Coming
When North Carolina takes the pitch at Alumni Stadium Friday night, it will mark the Tar Heels’ first regular-season visit to Notre Dame in almost exactly a decade. The last time UNC played a meaningful game in South Bend was Sept. 3, 1999, when the Tar Heels edged the Irish, 3-2 in double overtime at Alumni Field (on Meredith Florance’s goal at 114:00) in what was the first game at the helm for new Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum.
UNC did come to town for an exhibition contest prior to the 2007 season, with the teams (both ironically ranked the same as this year’s contest) finishing in a 2-2 tie on Aug. 19, thanks to Kerri Hanks’ tying goal with less than 12 minutes remaining before a record crowd of 3,412 fans at a rain-soaked Alumni Field.
North Carolina’s first (and only other) trip to South Bend came on Sept. 19, 1997, when the two sides battled to a 2-2 draw in a match called due to lightning at the 71:16 mark. Jenny Heft tied matters for the Irish at 68:10, a mere three minutes before the contest was stopped.
Quite A Stretch
Since beginning the 2007 season with a tough 3-4-1 start, the Irish are 44-2-1 in their last 47 games overall, with the only losses coming to No. 14 Florida State (3-2) in the 2007 NCAA College Cup semifinals and to No. 5 North Carolina (2-1) in the 2008 NCAA College Cup final. The lone tie occurred at No. 12 West Virginia (1-1) in the ’07 BIG EAST tournament final (WVU won the title on penalty kicks, 5-3).
With a victory over Toledo in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Championship on Nov. 14, Notre Dame matched the best 40-game stretch in school history (38-1-1), previously set from Oct. 2, 2005-Dec. 1, 2006. The 40-game record cannot be improved upon unless the Irish roll off eight more wins in a row.
Dude, We’re Going Streaking
With its 3-0 win at home over South Florida on Oct. 3, 2008, Notre Dame set a new school record for consecutive regular-season victories, a winning streak that now stands at 30 games heading into the clash with North Carolina. The last time the Irish dropped a regular-season contest was Sept. 23, 2007, when they gave up two second-half goals in a 2-1 loss to 14th-ranked Penn State at Alumni Field.
Notre Dame’s 30-game regular-season unbeaten streak also is tied for the third-longest in school history.
Happy On The Homefront
Thanks to last week’s 2-0 win over Loyola-Chicago at Alumni Field, Notre Dame now has won 27 consecutive home games since a 2-1 loss to 14th-ranked Penn State on Sept. 23, 2007; the 27-game home winning/unbeaten streak is fourth-longest in school history — the winning streak standard is 32 games (Oct. 24, 2004-Nov. 24, 2006), while the unbeaten string record is 43 games (41-0-2 from Aug. 27, 2004-Sept. 14, 2007).
In fact, combine that school-record unbeaten streak with Notre Dame’s current run at home and the Fighting Irish have an astounding 69-2-2 (.959) record at home since the start of the 2004 season (both losses were by 2-1 scores to top-16 opponents Oklahoma State and Penn State a week apart on Sept. 16 & 23, 2007).
Beasts Of The BIG EAST
With a win over Connecticut in the 2008 BIG EAST title game (1-0 in OT), Notre Dame now owns a school-record 52-game unbeaten streak (50-0-2) against BIG EAST opposition (second-longest in NCAA Division I history) dating back to a 4-1 loss at No. 15 Marquette on Sept. 30, 2005. In that time, the only ties were a 0-0 draw at Connecticut (Oct. 13, 2006) and a 1-1 deadlock at No. 12 West Virginia in last year’s BIG EAST final on Nov. 11 (WVU won 5-3 on PKs, but the game is recorded as a tie).
Since joining the BIG EAST, the Irish are 123-8-4 (.926) all-time in regular-season conference games, 32-2-1 (.929) in the BIG EAST Tournament, and hold a 682-81 scoring edge dating back to that first league season in ’95.
What’s more, Notre Dame maintains a 13-year, 87-game home unbeaten streak (86-0-1) versus BIG EAST teams, with Connecticut the lone conference team ever to defeat the Irish at Alumni Field (5-4 in OT on Oct. 6, 1995).
The 2009 Irish senior class ranks as the second-most successful group in the country, with a four-year record to date of 72-7-3 (.896) that includes three consecutive trips to the NCAA College Cup and appearances in the 2006 and 2008 national title games.
The 72 victories compiled by the Notre Dame seniors also are second on the national rolls.
The Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic
This weekend marks the 17th edition of Notre Dame’s home tournament, currently called the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic. Since its inception in 1992, the event has been played almost annually (except for 1994), with the Irish posting a 26-4-2 all-time record and a 91-30 scoring margin in the tournament.
Notre Dame has won 12 of the previous 16 Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic titles, including last year’s crown by virtue of wins over Loyola Marymount (4-0) and Santa Clara (2-0). The other four tournament championships have gone to Stanford (1992), North Carolina (1999), Santa Clara (2002) and Washington State (2007).
UNC is making its third appearance in the event. The Tar Heels placed second (on goal differential) in the high-powered 1997 event (then termed the adidas/Lady Foot Locker Classic) that featured four of the nation’s top six teams, tying second-ranked Notre Dame, 2-2 and defeating No. 6 Portland, 1-0. North Carolina then won the 1999 tournament (then called the KeyBank/adidas Classic) with victories over seventh-ranked Notre Dame (3-2 in double overtime) and No. 4 Connecticut (3-1).
Both Marquette and Wisconsin-Milwaukee are competing in the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic for the first time. For a full historical recap of the tournament, please see pp. 98 in this year’s Notre Dame women’s soccer media guide.
Pick Three For The Hermann Watch
Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson, junior defender/midfielder Lauren Fowlkes and senior midfielder Courtney Rosen have been named to the 45-player watch list for the 2009 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, it was announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA).
The Hermann Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I women’s soccer player, with Notre Dame’s Kerri Hanks earning the prestigious crystal ball trophy last year. In the process, Hanks became the fourth Fighting Irish player to collect the award, not to mention just the fourth two-time Hermann Trophy honoree since the award debuted in 1988, as well as the first two-time national player of the year (in any sport) in the 122-year history of Notre Dame athletics.
Game #2 Recap: Loyola-Chicago
Melissa Henderson collected a goal and an assist, and Molly Campbell added an important insurance goal early in the second half as No. 2 Notre Dame picked up its second victory in as many tries this season with a 2-0 win over Loyola-Chicago at a waterlogged Alumni Field. It was a fitting farewell for the “grand old palace” of Fighting Irish soccer, as Notre Dame will open the new state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium this weekend following nearly two decades on the east campus pitch (and which saw the Fighting Irish post a 222-16-4 all-time record from 1990-2009, including 27 consecutive victories to close the facility).
The Fighting Irish outshot the Ramblers, 21-6 in the contest, including a 13-3 margin in shots on goal and a 7-3 edge in corner kicks. Kelsey Lysander went the distance for Notre Dame, earning her first solo shutout of the season (along with a shared clean sheet last Friday vs. Wisconsin). The veteran goalkeeper made three saves in recording her 11th career solo shutout and 29th career combined whitewash. Lysander’s opposite number, Loyola’s Katie Groesch, was stellar between the pipes, finishing with 11 saves.
To begin the sequence that led to the game-winning goal, Tereza Stastny settled a ball at the edge of the offensive third and sprang Julie Scheidler on an overlapping run down the right side. Scheidler angled towards the area, then cut a sharp low service back to Henderson, who was parked 10 yards out from the net. The Hermann Trophy candidate swiftly turned on her right shoulder and hammered a rising left-footed shot that beat a diving Groesch to the upper middle netting at the 13:24 mark.
The Henderson Effect
Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson has made quite an impact on the Notre Dame offense since arriving on campus last fall, netting 19 goals (including seven gamewinners) and adding three assists for 41 points in her first 29 games with the Irish.
In fact, through a season and two games, Notre Dame is 14-0 when Henderson scores a goal and 16-0 when she picks up a point.
In Notre Dame’s season-opening victory over Wisconsin on Aug. 21, four of the five active Fighting Irish freshmen made their collegiate debuts. Lindsay Brown, Leah Fisher, Jazmin Hall and Tereza Stastny all saw time on the pitch as Notre Dame blanked the Badgers, 3-0. A week later, Stastny made her first career start in the 2-0 win versus Loyola-Chicago, proving instrumental in the buildup to Notre Dame’s first goal, scored by Melissa Henderson.
Your 2009 Captains
The 2009 Notre Dame squad features three first-time captains, with seniors Michele Weissenhofer and Courtney Rosen and sophomore Jessica Schuveiller all selected via a vote of their teammates.
Schuveiller’s selection is noteworthy, in that she is the first non-senior to serve as a team captain since Amy Warner was one of Notre Dame’s three captains in 2002 (her junior season). This year’s triumvirate also marks the first time since 2004 (Mary Boland, Gudrun Gunnarsdottir and Melissa Tancredi) that the Irish have named three captains.
Schuveiller Goes To Camp
Sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller was among a group of 24 players invited by head coach Bill Irwin to compete at the United States Under-23 Women’s National Team Training Camp in suburban Cleveland this past summer (June 12-19).
Schuveiller made her first appearance at a U.S. National Team training camp, joining an extensive list of Notre Dame players who have competed for Team USA at the U-23 level. Most recently, three current Irish players — senior forward Michele Weissenhofer, junior defender/midfielder Lauren Fowlkes and sophomore forward Melissa Henderson — were part of the U-23 player pool, along with two recent Notre Dame graduates and current WPS players Brittany Bock (now with the Los Angeles Sol) and defender Elise Weber (competing for Saint Louis Athletica). Fowlkes also struck gold with the U.S. U-20 National Team at last December’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Chile.
Senior midfielder/tri-captain Courtney Rosen is out indefinitely after breaking her left foot during preseason training. Rosen underwent successful corrective surgery on Aug. 13 and is in the midst of rehabilitating her injury.
Our Fearless Leader
Eleventh-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum reached a career milestone with last season’s 3-1 win over No. 17/16 Penn State on Sept. 21. With the win, he became the eighth active Division I head coach to record 300 career wins. He now has a record of 320-80-20 (.786) in 20 seasons (including six at Tulsa and three at Baylor). His winning percentage ranks fourth among active coaches, while his 320 wins are fifth on the NCAA Div. I career list.
Three … Is The Magic Number
Scoring three goals has meant virtually an automatic win in Notre Dame women’s soccer history, with a 279-3-1 (.988) record in those games, including a 181-1-0 (.995) mark since Oct. 6, 1995. The Irish also are 376-9-15 (.959) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals.
Most impressively, Notre Dame is 304-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead and is unbeaten in its past 281 contests when going ahead 2-0 (dating back to a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati). In fact, just two of the past 192 Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have forced a tie, something achieved by four opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (Irish won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at Alumni Field (ND led 2-0, later tied 2-2 and 3-3, ND won 4-3), Duke on Nov. 30, 2007, in the NCAA quarterfinals at Alumni Field (Irish won 3-2), and most recently, Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (Irish won 3-2 in OT).
You Can Put It On The Board
Notre Dame has scored a goal in 54 consecutive games, dating back to a scoreless draw with Michigan to open the 2007 season. The current 54-game goal streak is the second-longest in school history, trailing only a 55-game run from Aug. 29, 1997-Sept. 17, 1999.
Golden Domers Golden In OT
Overtime has usually been the right time for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish are 18-3-8 (.759) all-time in the Randy Waldrum era (since ’99) when going to an extra period or two.
Notre Dame went to OT in three games last season and emerged victorious all three times. On Oct. 12, Rose Augustin potted the gamewinner at 6:58 of the first overtime for a 3-2 win at Villanova.
On Nov. 9, Melissa Henderson followed Augustin’s model and scored at 6:58 of the first OT to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 victory in the BIG EAST Championship final at Alumni Field. It was the first “golden goal” in BIG EAST postseason history.
On Nov. 21, Alumni Field was once again the site, as Kerri Hanks slotted home a penalty kick at 6:54 of the first overtime for a 1-0 win over No. 22/24 Minnesota in the third round of the NCAA Championship. It was the first “golden goal” for the Fighting Irish in the NCAA tourney since 2000, when Meotis Erikson’s goal at 4:59 of the first OT gave Notre Dame a 2-1 win over Santa Clara in the NCAA quarterfinals at Alumni Field.
Last season marked the first time Notre Dame had ever played multiple overtime games in the postseason (BIG EAST/NCAA Championship).
Our New Digs
Located just east of the Joyce Center and approximately 500 yards west of its predecessor, Alumni Stadium will be the new home for Notre Dame soccer when its doors open in September 2009.
A state-of-the-art facility built at a cost of $5.7 million, Alumni Stadium has a permanent seating capacity of approximately 2,500 fans, along with grass berm seating on the east end of the grounds. The stadium also offers upgraded and expanded restroom and concession areas, elevator access to the main concourse level, as well as numerous amenities for both Fighting Irish soccer programs (expansive locker rooms with custom-made wood lockers, spacious team lounges with flat-screen plasma TVs and high-speed Internet access, and a fully-equipped athletic training center).
What’s more, Alumni Stadium features an LED scoreboard (installed by industry leader Daktronics), enhanced lighting structures and top-of-the-line sod for the pitch (cultivated in Fort Morgan, Colo., at Graff’s Turf Farms, which also provided the turf for the new Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, home of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake).
In addition, media members will enjoy the spacious new air-conditioned press box, which includes power and high-speed Internet portals at every seat (along with wireless Internet capability), three individually-wired broadcast booths and an expansive, unblocked midfield vantage point, all of which make Alumni Stadium unlike any other on-campus facility in college soccer.
The construction of Alumni Stadium was made possible because of numerous generous donations, including those by lead benefactors Tom Crotty and Rob Snyder, both former Fighting Irish men’s soccer players.
Crotty was a three-year monogram winner from 1977-79, earning team MVP honors in 1979 before graduating the following spring with a degree in finance. He currently is general partner at Battery Ventures LP in Wellesley, Mass., while he and his wife, Shari, live in Southborough, Mass.
Snyder earned two monograms from 1980-83, piling up 23 goals and 22 assists (the latter figure ranking seventh in school history). He also potted a team-high 12 goals in 1981. A 1984 graduate of Notre Dame, Snyder went on to become founder and CEO of Stream Energy in Dallas, Texas.
Taking It To The Next Level
Notre Dame had 10 players appearing on opening-day rosters for the inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2009, ranking second among all colleges in that category. Four of those 10 (all members of the ’08 Fighting Irish NCAA runner-up squad) were selected in the league’s first-ever college draft back in January — Brittany Bock (first round, fifth overall, Los Angeles Sol), Kerri Hanks (first round, sixth overall, Saint Louis Athletica), Carrie Dew (second round, 12th overall, FC Gold Pride) and Elise Weber (third round, 21st overall, Saint Louis Athletica).
That quartet was joined by: Shannon Boxx (Los Angeles Sol), Jen Buczkowski and Christie Shaner (Sky Blue FC), Candace Chapman (Boston Breakers), and Amanda Cinalli and Melissa Tancredi (Saint Louis Athletica).
In addition, Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf was assigned to the Chicago Red Stars as part of the U.S. National Team draft, but sat out the ’09 season while on maternity leave (she gave birth to twins in June). Kelly Lindsey began the season as an assistant coach at Sky Blue FC, then took over as interim head coach at midseason before resigning late in the year.
Midseason trades saw Hanks sent to Sky Blue FC, while Shaner went out to Los Angeles. Shaner subsequently was sidelined for the season with a broken leg.
Of the 10 active Notre Dame alums in WPS, eight saw their teams advance to the league playoffs (all but Chapman and Dew). Led by arguably the world’s top defensive midfielder in Boxx and one of WPS’ top rookies in Bock (who played center back after never playing that position at Notre Dame), Los Angeles won the regular season title and the right to host the first-ever WPS Championship Game.
In the end, five Fighting Irish alums (tying North Carolina for the most representatives from one college) worked their way into the WPS final — Bock, Boxx and Shaner for L.A., along with Hanks and Buczkowski for Sky Blue FC. The New Jersey-based club then capped an amazing string of three playoff road wins in eight days with a 1-0 upset of Los Angeles to win the inaugural WPS Championship.
Boxx was subsequently named a starter for the first WPS All-Star Game, which took place at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in suburban St. Louis on Aug. 30.
Next Up: Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The Irish return to action on Sunday when they close out the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic with a 1:30 p.m. (ET) tilt versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The teams will be meeting for the first time since Notre Dame downed the Panthers, 1-0, in second round action of the 2006 NCAA Tournament (on a goal by current Irish senior forward/tri-captain Michele Weissenhofer 4:37 into the game).
UWM (2-0-2) opened the season with scoreless draws at Big Ten members Northwestern and Wisconsin, followed by a 6-0 win over Michigan and 1-0 blanking of Rice last weekend to win the Milwaukee Cup. The Panthers were slated to face crosstown rival Marquette Thursday night in their Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic opener at Milwaukee’s Engelmann Field.
Marquette will take on North Carolina at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday at Alumni Stadium to kick off the second day of action at the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic.
— ND —