NOTRE DAME, Indiana — After an offseason filled with twists and turns, the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will hit the field Thursday night to begin the 2020 campaign. The Irish will travel south for a matchup against the Florida State Seminoles as they begin their eight-game, conference-only slate. Head coach Nate Norman enters his third season with the Irish and looks to continue the momentum built in 2019 as the Irish returned to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round.
KNOW THE OPPONENT: FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
- The Irish will open the 2020 slate against one of the top teams in the ACC, the Florida State Seminoles.
- FSU was picked second in the preseason coaches poll and are coming off an 18-6 campaign in 2019.
- Florida State advanced to the ACC semifinals before falling to No. 1 Virginia in Cary.
- In the NCAA Championship, the Seminoles earned one of the No. 1 seeds and made it to the quarterfinals before losing to UCLA.
- Florida State returns players that accounted for 75.5 percent of their goals (37 of 49) and 75 percent of their assists (33 of 44) from the 2019 season. The Seminoles return 15 of 21 players from a season ago.
- Florida State holds a 6-4 record all-time over the Irish but the teams are tied 2-2 in matches down in Tallahassee.
LAST TIME IN TALLAHASSEE
- The Irish will be making their first trip to Tallahassee since 2017 where one of their most thrilling regular season matchups occurred.
- The Irish broke through first in the 29th minute after a free kick goal from Jen Westendorf from 10-yards out of the box.
- Sammi Fisher notched the second goal for the Irish in the 44th minute after her initial shot went off the left post but she converted on the rebound opportunity.
- Florida State roared back in the second half, scoring three goals in the opening 15 minutes of the half to take a 3-2 lead.
- The Irish never backed down and Westendorf netted the equalizer off a free kick in the 83rd minute.
- Then in the waning minutes, Sammi Fisher was on the spot once again for the Irish. She scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to lift the Irish over the 18th-ranked Seminoles.
OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER RETURNS
- The Irish return a large portion of their offensive numbers from the 2019 season this year.
- Notre Dame returns 28 of its 31 goals (90.3%), 23 of its 25 assists (92%) and 81 of its 87 points (93%) from last season.
- Senior midfielder Sammi Fisher led the Irish in all three categories last season after tallying six goals, five assists and 17 points on the year.
- Following the regular season, Fisher was named to the All-ACC third team.
- Fisher notched a hat trick in the 3-0 win over Miami last season. She scored all three goals in the second half and was the first Irish hat trick since 2013.
- Senior forward Eva Hurm returns after recording five goals, three assists and 13 points during the 2019 campaign. Three of her five goals were game-winners.
- Hurm also joined Fisher on the All-ACC third team.
- After missing her first season in 2018 to injury, forward Luisa Delgado broke out on the scene in 2019. She scored four goals and four assists for 12 points on the year.
- She notched her first career goal and first career brace in the 4-0 home win over Northwestern
- Forward Kiki Van Zanten made a name for herself in her first collegiate season in 2019.
- She scored four goals on the year, including the game winner in the 87th minute in the 1-0 road win over Michigan and the game-winner in the first round victory over Saint Louis.
GOSAR AND WINEBRENNER ANCHOR THE BACK LINE
- The Irish return two mainstays on the back line from last season to begin the 2020 campaign.
- Senior Jenna Winebrenner and junior Jade Gosar bring a wealth of experience to the defense after both starting 19+ games last season.
- Winebrenner, mainly a right back, started all 21 games in 2019 and is third on the team in minutes returning (1,500) this season.
- Winebrenner notched her first career goal in 2019 and finished with two goals, one assist and five points.
- She played 90+ eight times and was on the field for all 10 of Notre Dame’s shutouts last season.
- Gosar, primarily a center back, started in 19 of 20 games in 2019 and is second on the team in returning minutes (1,562).
- Gosar tallied her first collegiate point on the assist to Olivia Wingate’s late equalizer in the 1-1 2OT draw against No. 9 Duke.
- Gosar also played 90+ minutes eight times in 2019, including being on the field in all 10 of Notre Dame’s shutouts.
YOUTH INFUSION FOR 2020
- In Nate Norman’s third season at the helm of the Fighting Irish, another strong class of freshmen will be joining the ranks in 2020.
- The Irish welcome nine freshmen to the team that has routinely had strong production from their incoming class in their first year on campus.
- The signing class, which consists of athletes from six states (Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Minnesota, California), includes three goalkeepers, two defenders, one midfielder and three forwards.
- Eva Gaetino was a two-time Adidas National Elite Soccer Program in Lyon, France and Portland, OR (2018-19).
- Caroline Gray was a two-time Georgia State Champion (2017 & 2019) and she played club with fellow freshman Lucy Mitchell.
- Lucy Mitchell was a two-time Georgia state champion (2016, 2018) and was the MVP of both games. Mitchell was one of four signees to play in the 2019 Allstate All-American Game.
- Ashley Naylor was a three-time team captain and guided her high school team to the state finals for the first time in school history. She was named team MVP during her sophomore season.
- Ellie Ospeck joined Lucy Mitchell in the 2019 Allstate All-American Game. She was named to the 2019 USA Today ALL-USA second team and is the sister of current senior Erin Ospeck.
- Paige Peltier joined Ellie and Lucy in the 2019 Allstate All-American Game. She was named Class AA Ms. Soccer Minnesota in 2019 and was the Pioneer Press Soccer Player of the Year. Paige was also an Esmark All-American in 2016 and 2018. Her dad played baseball at Notre Dame and currently holds the school record for career batting average.
- Kaylin Slattery was the North Carolina US Youth Soccer State Cup champions in 2015 and her dad graduated from Notre Dame in 1990.
- Eva Wirtz was the 2018 Georgia state champion and state runner-up in 2017. She was named defensive MVP in both her sophomore and junior seasons.
- Mary Votava joined Lucy, Ellie and Paige in the 2019 Allstate All-American Game. She is a three-time Oregon state champion and was named to the 2019-20 USA Today All-USA Preseason Girls Soccer Team.