Head coach Randy Waldrum will lead the #8 Fighting Irish into their inaugural ACC regular-season match at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C.

Challenging Schedule Awaits Irish For Silver Anniversary Season

May 14, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The three-time NCAA national champion Notre Dame women’s soccer team will play seven matches against NCAA Championship qualifiers, including home contests with North Carolina and Santa Clara that highlight one of the nation’s elite regular season tournaments, all as part of a demanding 2012 Fighting Irish schedule that was released Monday following approval by the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics.

The 20th annual Notre Dame adidas Invitational traditionally has been among the premier events on the national women’s college soccer schedule, and the 2012 edition should prove no different. Notre Dame and Santa Clara (which qualified for last year’s NCAA Championship, falling to California on penalties in the first round) will meet at 7 p.m. (ET) Aug. 31 at Alumni Stadium in the nightcap of the tournament’s opening round, following a 5 p.m. (ET) twilight contest between North Carolina (an NCAA third-round participant last season) and Connecticut, also at Alumni Stadium. The four teams return to the Fighting Irish home ground on Sept. 2, with Santa Clara and Connecticut squaring off at 11 a.m. (ET), and Notre Dame battling North Carolina in the event finale at 1:30 p.m. (ET).

Both Fighting Irish matches at this year’s Notre Dame adidas Invitational come against traditional rivals that Notre Dame has faced numerous times in recent years. The Fighting Irish are 10-6-1 all-time against Santa Clara in a series that has been played almost annually since 1999, including last year’s 1-1 draw in northern California. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will play UNC in the regular season for the fourth time in five seasons, although the teams also have been pitted against one another in NCAA Championship play with great regularity. Last season, the Fighting Irish and Tar Heels met at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., with UNC winning 2-1 in overtime.

The Notre Dame adidas Invitational will be the first of two tournaments on the Fighting Irish docket this fall, with Notre Dame heading across the country the following weekend for the Portland Invitational. The Fighting Irish will take on the host Pilots (who advanced to the second round of last year’s NCAA Championship) at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) on Sept. 7 at Merlo Field in Portland, Ore., before coming back to the UP campus at noon PT (3 p.m. ET) Sept. 9 to face Washington and close out the round-robin tournament.

Notre Dame’s match with Portland resumes one of the nation’s top intersectional rivalries, with the Fighting Irish holding a 7-4 series edge on the Pilots, including a memorable 1-0 triple-overtime win over UP in the 1995 NCAA national championship match. The teams last played on Nov. 25, 2005, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at Merlo Field, with Portland earning a 3-1 victory. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against Washington, with two of those wins coming in Portland, including the last series matchup on Sept. 16, 2000 (a 5-0 Fighting Irish win).

Among the other 2012 schedule highlights for Notre Dame are non-conference home contests with Big 12 Conference member Baylor (1 p.m. ET, Aug. 12 – free exhibition at the Notre Dame Practice Field) and first-time opponent East Carolina (home opener at 1 p.m. ET on Aug. 26), along with the traditional exhibition match with 2011 NCAA Championship quarterfinalist Virginia in Maple City, Mich. (1 p.m. ET, Aug. 10 at Myles Kimmerly Park).

For the first time since 2005, the Fighting Irish will open with a pair of matches away from home, starting at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) on Aug. 17 at Wisconsin. It will be the third time in four years Notre Dame has faced the Badgers, with the Fighting Irish opening last season with a 2-0 victory over UW at Alumni Stadium. This year’s visit to Madison, Wis., will be Notre Dame’s first since Oct. 27, 1999, when the Fighting Irish posted a 9-2 victory late in Waldrum’s first season at Notre Dame.

One week later, the Fighting Irish head back on the road to face Tulsa in a 7:30 p.m. CT (8:30 p.m. ET) at the Hurricane Soccer Stadium in Tulsa, Okla. Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum coached the TU men’s and women’s soccer programs from 1989-94, and squared off against his former employer for the first time last season, as Notre Dame registered a 7-1 victory over Tulsa at Alumni Stadium.

“I always believe in playing a difficult non-conference schedule in order to prepare our players for the BIG EAST season, and more importantly, for the NCAA tournament,” Waldrum said. “This year is no exception, as we play an extremely challenging schedule. The fans will be happy to know that our Notre Dame adidas Invitational includes games against perennial powers Santa Clara and UNC. In addition, we’ll have several huge games before conference play begins with exhibitions against both Virginia and Baylor, and then trips to Wisconsin and Portland. We will certainly get an idea early on as to where we are as a team, and what we need to improve upon before the NCAAs. This type of schedule is why young players want to come play at Notre Dame. They know they will play the best teams in the country, year in and year out.”

The Fighting Irish will kick off BIG EAST Conference play at home on Sept. 14 against Louisville (4 p.m. ET), in a rematch of a pair of tough one-goal losses to the NCAA third-round qualifying Cardinals last season (the latter coming in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals). This year’s Louisville match opens a season-long four-match homestand for Notre Dame that includes visits by conference foes Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sept. 16) and Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 21), as well as a non-conference match with reigning Summit League Tournament champion (and NCAA Championship participant) Oakland at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 23.

Notre Dame closes the regular season by playing five of its final seven matches on the road, starting with a weekend swing through New England to visit Providence (3 p.m. ET, Sept. 28) and Connecticut (noon ET, Sept. 30). The Fighting Irish return home briefly the following weekend for matchups with New Jersey conference rivals Seton Hall (7:30 p.m. ET, Oct. 5) and Rutgers (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 7), with the latter also serving as Senior Day for the Fighting Irish, as the program takes time to recognize the accomplishments of its departing veterans in a pre-match ceremony.

Notre Dame winds up the regular season with a mid-Atlantic road trip to Georgetown (3 p.m. ET, Oct. 12) and Villanova (noon ET, Oct. 14), before coming back to the Midwest for the regular season finale at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) Oct. 19 at DePaul.

After the first two rounds of the BIG EAST tournament are played at campus sites on Oct. 25 & 28, the University of Connecticut will be the host site for the BIG EAST Championship semifinals and title match on Nov. 2 & 4 at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. The NCAA Championship kicks off Nov. 9 at campus sites around the country, while the month-long tournament culminates Nov. 30 & Dec. 2 with the NCAA Women’s College Cup in San Diego, Calif., at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego.

A select number of Notre Dame’s matches this season may be televised, although those coverage plans have not yet been finalized. The complete Fighting Irish broadcast schedule for the 2012 campaign will be announced at a later date.

Notre Dame returns eight starters and 11 monogram winners from last year’s squad that posted a 10-8-3 record and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the 19th consecutive season. Led by Waldrum (who also heads up the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team program), 2011 all-BIG EAST Conference and U.S. Under-20 National Team midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit), 2010 all-conference midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and 2011 BIG EAST All-Freshman Team forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), the Fighting Irish recently completed their spring schedule with a 4-1-1 record, posting three shutouts, as well as a 2-1 victory over the full Haitian National Team on April 27 at Alumni Stadium.

Tickets for the 2012 Notre Dame women’s soccer season soon will go on sale at Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, which can be reached by phone (574-631-7356), in person through the ticket windows in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (located inside Gate 9) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets).

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

— ND —