July 29, 2006

Notre Dame women’s soccer fans who are planning to see the Irish in their Aug. 27 game at the University of Mississippi should arrive at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium an hour earlier than originally scheduled, as the game has been moved up an hour to a noon central start. The game marks a rare trip to the southeast for the Irish women’s soccer program and will be the first game between Notre Dame and Mississippi in the program’s history.

The game at Mississippi will produce just the fourth game versus a Southeastern Conference team in nearly 20 seasons of Notre Dame women’s soccer. Prior to last season’s 4-1 win over Florida at the 2005 Inn at Saint Mary’s Notre Dame Classic, the Irish had not faced an SEC team since the early 1990s. The program’s only other matchups versus SEC teams are a 1992 win over Kentucky (1-0, at ND) and a 3-3 game versus Vandebilt in a 1991 tournament at Cincinnati.

That tie with Vanderbilt represents a rare result in the history of Notre Dame soccer, as it remains the only time in the program’s history that the Irish have claimed a 2-0 lead and not gone on to victory (251-0-1) – including an active streak of 228 victories when securing the 2-0 cushion.

Mississippi returns all 11 of its starters and 20 of 22 letterwinners from its 2005 team that won the SEC West Division title before losing to Kentucky in the first round of the SEC Tournament (3-2, in overtime) and then dropping a 1-0 game versus Pepperdine in the NCAA Tournament first round.

Notre Dame is set to return eight players with significant starting experience and 17 letterwinners from its 2005 team that held the No. 1 ranking in the early part of that season before finishing 22-3-0 – with BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles preceding a 3-1 loss at eventual national champion Portland in the NCAA quarterfinal round.

Two of Notre Dame’s top returning starters likely will not play in the Ole Miss game, as rising sophomores Brittany Bock (midfielder) and Carrie Dew (central defender) are members of the United States Under-20 National Team that will be competing in Russia at the Under-20 World Championship. The USA’s third and final game in group play is slated for Aug. 24, meaning that Bock and Dew possibly would be back with the Irish only if the United States has an unlikely early exit from the U-20 tournament.

The Notre Dame women’s soccer program’s all-time roster includes players from 30 different states and three foreign countries, but none from Mississippi. The most noteworthy Notre Dame player who has hailed from the southeast is former standout midfielder/forward Jenny Streiffer, a native of Baton Rouge, La. Streiffer earned the rare double distinction of All-America and Academic All-America honors during her collegiate days and joined UNC great Mia Hamm as the only players in NCAA Division I women’s soccer history with 70-plus goals (70) and 70-plus assists (71) during their careers.

The Notre Dame program also has included eight players from the state of Florida, most notably mid-1990s forward Stacia Masters (a product of Tampa’s Leto High School).