Aug. 3, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — After officially reporting for the 2016 season on Tuesday, the Irish kicked off preseason camp with a pair of training sessions Wednesday to officially usher in the new year.
With initial move-in, gear pick-up, physicals and baseline movement screening in the books, Wednesday’s sessions marked the first of five two-a-days before the Irish welcome Northwestern to Alumni Stadium for the season’s first exhibition match next Tuesday.
“The main focus right now is just assessing where we’re at with everything,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “We return such a great core from the spring and we’re adding some great freshmen to the mix. We’re just trying to assimilate everyone at this point together, see where we’re at in terms of our fitness and get the chemistry going again on the field.”
Wednesday’s practices marked the first time since early June the Irish have participated in official training activities, and the first time the entire squad, including its four incoming freshmen, has competed together to begin preparing for the upcoming season (the fifth freshman, Jennifer Westendorf, was a January enrollee and played with the Irish through spring practices and matches).
It was also the first opportunity for this season’s Irish captains to flex their leadership muscles in a training capacity. Seniors Sandra Yu, Kaleigh Olmsted and Kaela Little will be taking on that mantle for the Irish this season.
“Our three captains are excited to be in that role,” Romagnolo said. “When you become a senior, you’re excited to have that responsibility that this is your team — a `this is your last season’ mentality. I think all of the seniors have that. They’ve done a great job as a class of making everyone feel like they have a voice on this team. They’re just excited to put their stamp on this team.”
The Irish will play two exhibition matches — at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday against the visiting Wildcats and 1 p.m. ET August 14 at Illinois — before officially opening the 2016 slate against Wright State on at 7 p.m. ET Friday, August 19, at Alumni Stadium.
IRISH ENTER AT NO. 13 IN NSCAA PRESEASON TOP 25
The National Soccer Coaches Association of American unveiled its national preseason rankings for Division I Women’s Soccer on Tuesday, with the Irish checking at No. 13.
Notre Dame closed out the 2015 season ranked 15th in the final NSCAA poll and were one of seven ACC schools to be included in the preseason scroll. The Irish, who finished last season with a 14-5-1 record and reached the second round of the NCAA Championship, join No. 1 Florida State, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Virginia, No. 9 North Carolina, No. 14 Clemson and No. 17 Virginia Tech in the rankings.
The Irish face six opponents this season who rank in the preseason poll — Santa Clara (No. 21, Sept. 9), Stanford (No. 5, Sept. 11), Clemson (Oct. 6), Virginia (Oct. 9), North Carolina (Oct. 14) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 20). Two other 2016 opponents, Wisconsin (Aug. 21) and Michigan (Aug. 25), are receiving votes.
TANCREDI CHASES OLYMPIC GOLD
Former Irish All-American Melissa Tancredi (’04) is making her third Olympic appearance this year in Rio, having helped Canada to the bronze medal at the 2012 Games in London and also participating in 2008 (Beijing). In 2012, she was Canada’s second-leading scorer with four goals.
The Ancaster, Ontario, native got things started in preliminary round action today in SÃƒÆ’Â£o Paulo as the Canadians defeated Australia 2-0. The Group F favorites scored the quickest goal in Olympic history with a tally 20 seconds into the match, then tagged on an insurance goal in the 80th minute to secure the shutout. They will continue preliminary play at 2 p.m. ET Saturday against Zimbabwe.
A veteran of Team Canada, Tancredi reached the 100-career games played plateau in May of 2015. This year, she helped Canada secure a place in Rio by scoring three goals in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying play. She first played with the senior national team in 2004 and scored her first international goal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio as Canada won the bronze.
Tancredi was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and was a key member of the 2004 national championship team. She was a co-captain on that NCAA championship team and also earned first team All-American honors that season. She was also named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year in 2003. In 62 career games, she totaled 12 goals and nine assists for 33 points.
Daily updates will be featured on UND.com. Complete schedules for when the athletes with Notre Dame ties will be competing can be found at UND.com/Rio. Join the conversation on social media and support the Irish using #OlympicND.
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Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.