Aug. 12, 2008
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-5-2 in 2007 / 11-0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Memphis Tigers (17-4-1 in 2007 / 7-1-1 Conference USA)
â€¢ DATE: August 12, 2008
â€¢ TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
â€¢ AT: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Field – 2,500)
â€¢ SERIES: First meeting
â€¢ WEBCAST: UND.com (live) (Michael Scholl, p-b-p / Tyler Profilet, color)
â€¢ LIVE STATS: Not available
â€¢ TICKETS: Free for exhibitions
Irish To Face Memphis In Exhibition Opener Tuesday Night
After a remarkable turnaround midway through last season that led to the program’s ninth NCAA College Cup semifinal berth, Notre Dame has its eyes on even bigger things in 2008. The Irish will kick off the ’08 campaign Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ET) with an exhibition game against defending Conference USA champion Memphis at Alumni Field.
Notre Dame posted a 19-5-2 record last season (11-0-0 in the BIG EAST Conference), fueled in large part by a 17-game unbeaten streak (16-0-1) during the final two months of the season. In that stretch, the Irish allowed just 10 goals and had nine shutouts, while averaging nearly three goals and 17 shots per game. Yet, the Irish weren’t at all satisfied with the way last year ended, with a 3-2 loss to Florida State in the national semifinals.
Notre Dame has 19 monogram winners, including nine starters, back from that club, and adds a highly-regarded nine-player freshman class that should give the Irish one of their deepest teams in years.
Rankingsâ€¢ Notre Dame was fourth in the final NSCAA poll last season (’08 preseason poll to be released Tuesday).â€¢ Memphis received votes in the final NSCAA poll last season.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Notre Dame should roll out one of its deepest teams in years, with 19 monogram winners (including nine starters) back from last season’s squad that went 19-5-2 (11-0-0 in the BIG EAST) and advanced to the NCAA College Cup semifinals for the ninth time in the past 14 years. The Irish also bring back a powerful offensive punch, with 83.3 percent of their goalscoring (55 of 66) returning.
As if that weren’t enough, Notre Dame welcomes a highly-regarded nine-player freshman class to campus, with three of those incoming players having earned multiple national All-America honors during their prep or club careers.
Leading the way for Notre Dame this season will be two of the country’s premier front-line players (and ’07 NSCAA first-team All-Americans) in senior forward Kerri Hanks and senior midfielder/forward Brittany Bock.
Hanks (14G-21A in 2007) continues to blaze new trails through the NCAA and Notre Dame record books, having led the nation in assists the past two seasons, and aiming to become the sixth Division I player ever to log 60 goals and 60 assists in her career (64G-58A entering this year). Among the nation’s most gifted players, she also can become the 23rd Division I player ever to collect four All-America citations, and she remains a prime candidate for the Hermann Trophy, an award she claimed as a sophomore in 2006.
Bock (16G-4A), one of the Irish co-captains in 2008, emerged as a genuine offensive threat last season, leading the team in goals and finishing second with 36 points. The reigining BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Bock could see time at either forward (where she has spent much of the past two seasons) or midfield (her natural position) depending on other personnel moves.
Junior Michele Weissenhofer (8G-3A) rounds out arguably the nation’s top forward line. After battling an ankle injury for much of the regular season, Weissenhofer continued to deliver her own special brand of postseason magic in 2007, tallying four goals in the NCAA Tournament, including a pair of strikes in Notre Dame’s round-of-16 win at No. 4 North Carolina. With a physical style, a powerful shot and her ever-dangerous flip throw, Weissenhofer looks to return to the form that made her the ’06 Soccer America National Freshman of the Year.
Another key player for the Irish this season will be senior center back and co-captain Carrie Dew (2G-3A), the 2006 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year who made a successful recovery from an ACL injury late in the ’06 regular season with a solid ’07 campaign. She also anchored a Notre Dame back line that allowed only 10 goals and less than three shots per game during a 17-game unbeaten string in the final two months of the season.
A Quick Look At Memphis
Memphis returns seven starters and 21 letterwinners from its 2007 team that went 17-4-1 (the best record in program history), won the Conference USA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Championship (losing to UNC-Greensboro, 1-0 in the first round). The Tigers also shared the C-USA regular-season title with Central Florida (identical 7-1-1 records) before defeating the Knights, 2-0 to win the conference tournament crown.
Memphis opens a two-game exhibition road trip with Tuesday night’s visit to Notre Dame; the Tigers will stop at Western Kentucky on Thursday afternoon before returning home to open their season Aug. 22 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Notre Dame-Memphis Series
Tuesday will mark the first-ever meeting (preseason or regular season) between Notre Dame and Memphis in women’s soccer.
Notre Dame is 7-1-1 in exhibition games against college teams under 10th-year head coach Randy Waldrum. Of those nine games, the Irish are 2-0-1 at home, taking wins over Iowa (3-1) in 2001 and Xavier (5-0) in 2006, while tying North Carolina (2-2) last year.
Defense also has been a key for Notre Dame in the preseason, as the Irish have allowed just 11 goals in those nine Waldrum-era exhibitions (with six scores coming at the hands of UNC, which defeated Notre Dame, 4-2 in 2002 in Fort Wayne).
It should be noted the Irish did not play any preseason games in 1999 (Waldrum’s first year), 2000, 2003 or 2004, with the ’00 and ’04 squads heading to Brazil for training trips. The ’04 team took full advantage of that trip, going 5-0-1 to set the stage for a 25-1-1 season and the program’s second national championship.
Due to ongoing construction within the Notre Dame Athletics Quad, parking for Irish soccer games this year is limited to the Eck Baseball Stadium and Joyce Center lots. Fans are asked to walk around the south end of Eck Stadium, then proceed north between the stadium’s right-field wall and the soccer practice field before entering at the south end of Alumni Field.
The Aug. 22 season opener vs. Michigan has been moved to Alumni Field due to a delay in renovations at UM’s home facility. The game also has been shifted one half-hour later and now will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Next Game: Virginia (exhibition)
Notre Dame will play its second and final exhibition Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET) against Virginia at the Keystone Soccer Complex in Traverse City, Mich. The Cavaliers went 13-4-6 in ’07, reaching the NCAA round-of-16 last year before dropping a 2-1 overtime decision at College Cup semifinalist UCLA.
— ND —