The Notre Dame women's soccer team - fresh off winning the BIG EAST Tournament title - embarks on its annual quest for an even bigger prize, as NCAA Tournament action will return to Alumni Field this weekend (Nov. 11 and 13).

Irish To Open Defense Of NCAA Title At Home Versus Valparaiso (Nov. 11; 7:30 EST)

Nov. 7, 2005

The Notre Dame women’s soccer team (19-2-0) will open defense of its NCAA championship this weekend at Alumni Field, which will serve as the site of first and second-round games on November 11 and 13.

The Irish will face Mid-Continent Conference champion Valparaiso in the second game on Friday, Nov. 11 (7:30 p.m. EST), with Michigan State and Bowling Green set to meet in the earlier 5:00 p.m. game. The winners then will advance to Sunday’s second-round game at 1:00 p.m. (Nov. 13). Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children, students and senior citizens – with the first 100 students admitted free of charge.

See the below link for the complete 64-team bracket:

The NCAA has shifted to a different seeding system for the 2005 tournament, abandoning the format where there were 16 national seeds (listed 1-16). The new format has four seeds (listed 1-4) in each of the four quadrants of the bracket. Notre Dame is a No. 2 seed in its portion of the bracket, with Portland (18-0-1) the top seed, Duke the No. 3 (13-5-1) and BYU (15-2-3) the 4th seed in that quadrant of the bracket.

Should the top-seeded teams advance to the third round (played Nov. 18, 19 or 20), Duke then would head to Notre Dame with a bid to the quarterfinals on the line. If Notre Dame and Portland each advance to the quarterfinals, that game would be played at UP’s Merlo Field on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25-27) and would serve as a rematch of the 2004 quarterfinal won by Notre Dame at Alumni Field (3-1).

Teams from the same conference cannot play each other in the first round but second-round conference matchups were permissible in the formation of the bracket. When pairing teams, the committee was restricted by geographic proximity and sites were selected for the first and second rounds to create the fewest number of flights; therefore, only 10 of the top 16 seeds will be hosting first- and second-round competition.

Notre Dame is the only seed in its quadrant that will be playing on its home field this weekend, as Portland must travel to Nebraska, Duke will visit Yale and BYU will play at the nearby University of Utah.

The other quadrant on Notre Dame’s side of the bracket includes (seeds 1-4): Penn State, Santa Clara, Connecticut and Texas A&M.

The other side of the bracket features one quadrant with (1-4) UCLA, Virginia, Cal State Fullerton and Marquette while the top four seeds in the final quadrant are North Carolina, Florida State, California and Pepperdine.

The other three seeded teams that will not be playing at home this weekend also were placed in the same quadrant (along with UNC): California (at Texas), Florida State (at Florida) and Pepperdine (at Vanderbilt).

The 24th annual NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup will be played December 2 and 4 at Aggie Soccer Stadium in College Station, Texas.

Valparaiso (12-7-1) finished second in the Mid-Con regular-season standings but knocked off top seed Oakland in the tournament championship game (3-1).

Michigan State (11-5-5) lost a 2-1 game to 7th-seeded Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament , after finishing third in the Big Ten regular-season standings.

Bowling Green (14-6-2) won the Mid-American Conference regular-season title and then earned an automatic berth in the NCAAs after edging 7th-seeded Kent State in the MAC Tournament title game (0-0; 3-2 in PKs).

Notre Dame takes a 10-game winning streak into the NCAAs, having outscored its opponents 46-1 during that five-game stretch while amassing a season goal total (95) that is three more than its opponents’ combined shots (92) versus the Irish this season. The nation’s top-scoring team (4.52 goals/gm) lost just twice all season – on the road versus NCAA seeded teams Santa Clara (2-1, with the Irish missing a first-half penalty kick in that game) and Marquette (4-1, as the Golden Eagles cashed in all but one of their five total shots in the game).

The Irish avenged that loss to Marquette last weekend in the BIG EAST semifinals, posting a 3-0 win over homestanding MU at Valley Fields.

Notre Dame won all four of its other games versus teams that qualified for the 2005 NCAAs, topping Florida (4-1), Gonzaga (4-1) and another NCAA seeded team, Connecticut (4-0 regular season; 5-0 in BIG EAST title game), by a combined score of 17-2.

When including the games versus SCU and Marquette, the Irish went 5-2-0 in games vs. the 2005 NCAA field (by a combined margin of 22-8). All but two of the 10 goals allowed by Notre Dame this season were scored by teams that have advanced to the ’05 NCAAs.

Notre Dame owns a 32-10-1 all-time record (.756) in NCAA Tournament play, including 25-3-0 (.893) in NCAA games played at Alumni Field. The Irish have claimed NCAA titles in 1995 and ’04, joining UNC as the only repeat winners in the history of the tournament.

Check back to throughout the week for continuing coverage of the Irish women’s soccer team.