Aug. 1, 2003

The Notre Dame women’s soccer team has been picked by the BIG EAST Conference coaches to win the conference’s Mid-Atlantic Division title in 2003, with junior right back and 2002 All-American Candace Chapman (Ajax, Ontario) projected to repeat as the BIG EAST defensive player of the year. Senior forwards Amanda Guertin (Grapevine, Texas) and Amy Warner (Albuquerque, N.M.) joined Chapman among the 12 players that were named to the preseason all-BIG EAST team.

Notre Dame – which returns 12 of its top-13 players from the injury-plagued 2002 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 – led the way with three preseason all-BIG EAST selections, followed by Villanova and West Virginia with two each. (Note: the Irish open preseason camp on Monday, Aug. 11; look for preseason updates, including a feature on the highly-touted incoming class, in coming weeks.)

Chapman – considered one of the top young players in international soccer circles – is preparing for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, as starter at outside back and flank midfielder with the Canadian National Team. Guertin and Warner could emerge as one of the nation’s premier frontrunner tandems and have the chance to become the first pair of forwards from the same team to earn first team all-BIG EAST honors since Seton Hall’s Kelly smith and Courtney Wood did so in 1998. Guertin and Warner already have combined for 64 career goals, bested by just five previous pairs of Notre Dame classmates.

Notre Dame fifth-year defender Vanessa Pruzinsky (Trumbull, Conn.) – a two-time all-BIG EAST selection and the 2002 preseason BIG EAST defensive player of the year, before missing most of ’02 due to a nagging ankle injury – gives the Irish another all-star-caliber veteran.

West Virginia was picked to finish second in the BIG EAST Mid-Atlantic Division, followed by Villanova and Rutgers. Connecticut was tabbed to repeat as the Northeast Division champ, followed by Boston College, Miami and St. John’s.

Chapman started with the Irish during the 2001 and ’02 seasons, totaling six goals and seven assists while playing mostly at right and left outside back (in addition to being shifted at times to midfield and forward). Named to the 2001 Soccer America freshman All-America team, she later helped lead the Canadian Under-19 National Team to a runner-up finish at the 2002 Under-19 World Championship before earning NSCAA second team All-America honors with the Irish. She is one of 10 Notre Dame players ever named first team all-BIG EAST in multiple seasons – and one of just three ever so honored as a freshman and sophomore.

Warner also is a multiple all-BIG EAST performer, earning first-team honors as a freshman and junior and second-team in 2001. The speedy team co-captain also is one of 10 Irish players ever named to the NSCAA all-Great Lakes Region team three-plus times (second team in ’02, first team in ’00 and ’01), heading into her final season ranked 15th on the Notre Dame career scoring charts with 67 points (27 goals, plus 13 assists). She needs 16 more goals to crack that ND top-10 list, already ranks ninth in career game-winning goals (9) and is one of 13 players ever to post multiple hat tricks (2) in her ND career. She heads into ’03 having appeared in 49 consecutive games with the Irish, including 43 straight starts.

Guertin returns for her final season after becoming just the second player ever to lead Notre Dame in goals (11) and assists (11) during the same season, with her 33 points in 2002 finishing atop the team charts (Warner was second with 26, 9G-8A). She enters 2003 ranked 12th on the Notre Dame career goalscoring charts (37) and needs 40 points to crack that Irish top-10 list (currently with 95 points, including 21 assists). A proven big-game performer, Guertin totaled 50 points (20G-10A) in 33 games versus ranked and/or postseason opponents during the 2000-02 seasons, highlighted by goals in an ND-record seven consecutive postseason games spanning the ’01 and ’02 seasons. Her 15 career game-winning goals already rank sixth in the Irish record book and include three in overtime (an ND record), with Guertin also ranking fourth all-time among Notre Dame players with eight career goals in NCAA Tournament play. She also set a team record by scoring a goal in 10 consecutive games (third-best in NCAA history) during the 2001 season and appeared in all 67 games during the 2000-02 seasons, including an active streak of 36 consecutive starts.