March 23, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After advancing to its fourth consecutive NCAA Women’s College Cup, and fifth in the past six seasons, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team returns to the pitch at 6 p.m. (ET) Wednesday for a match against the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) at old Alumni Field (the home of Notre Dame soccer from 1990-2008). There will be no admission charged for Wednesday night’s contest, which is the first of five spring matches for the Fighting Irish, four of which will be played on the Notre Dame campus.
Wednesday’s match may have added significance for Notre Dame fans, as former Fighting Irish greats Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) and Michele Weissenhofer (’10) are expected to suit up for Chicago, and both could possibly start on the Red Stars’ back line.
“We are thrilled to be able to open our spring schedule against a top-flight franchise like the Red Stars,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Our early training sessions this spring have been promising and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to measure our progress at this point. I hope the South Bend soccer community will join us and take advantage of the free admission for Wednesday’s match to see some of the best women’s soccer players around.”
Markgraf, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was assigned to Chicago via a dispersal of U.S. National Team players and she will make her league debut this summer after missing last year’s inaugural WPS campaign while on maternity leave. During her Fighting Irish career, Markgraf started 97 of a possible 101 matches, anchoring the Notre Dame back line for four seasons. She earned National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America honors in her final three seasons with the Fighting Irish.
Weissenhofer was chosen by the Red Stars in the fourth round (33rd overall pick) of January’s WPS Draft in Philadelphia. as she became the seventh Notre Dame women’s soccer player to be selected in the two-year history of the WPS Draft. Weissenhofer battled injuries throughout portions of her Notre Dame career, but still played in 90 matches, starting 63 times as a forward. She amassed 88 points with the Fighting Irish, scoring 30 goals and dishing out 28 assists, highlighted by a freshman season that saw her pile up 18 goals and 17 assists (53 points) and earn National Freshman of the Year honors from Soccer America.
Since arriving in Chicago, Weissenhofer has shifted to the defensive third, playing primarily at outside back for the Red Stars and earning the starting nod next to Markgraf in both of Chicago’s preseason matches this spring — a 2-1 loss to the Washington Freedom in Vero Beach, Fla., and a 2-0 win at Notre Dame’s BIG EAST Conference rival South Florida.
Notre Dame is expected to have nine of its 11 starters returning next season, including several national and regional award winners such as forwards (and recent U.S U-23 National Team call-ups) Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) and Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy), midfielders Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West), defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) and goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate).
Following Wednesday’s match with Chicago, Notre Dame will head to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a 5 p.m. (ET) match Saturday against Michigan State at the University of Saint Francis. That contest will be played as part of a charity benefit for Camp Watcha-Wanna-Do, a week-long summer camp for children with cancer. For more information on this worthwhile event, please visit the camp’s web site at http://www.campwatchawannado.com.
— ND —