Oct. 24, 2005

The 2005 Notre Dame women’s soccer team – now ranked as high as 5th in the national polls – will open its postseason as the host team for a BIG EAST quarterfinal, to be played at Alumni Field on Sunday, Oct. 30 (1:00 p.m. EST kickoff). The Irish will face the winner of an earlier “play-in” first-round game between Georgetown at Syracuse (that game will be played on Oct. 27).

Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Division B title after compiling a 10-1-0 record in regular-season conference games. It marks the 13th time in 15 years of conference play that the Irish have been a conference regular-season champion (in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from ’91-’94 and in BIG EAST seasons from ’95-’97, ’99-’01 and ’03-’05). Notre Dame now has compiled a 111-7-3 record (.930) in conference regular-season games, including 96-8-3 (.911) in regular-season games vs. BIG EAST teams.

The Irish have experienced similar success during conference tournament play, going 26-2-0 (.929) while winning nine conferent tournament titles (two MCC, seven BIG EAST) from 1993-2001. The Irish are 21-2-0 all-time in BIG EAST Tournament play (87-13 scoring edge), narrowly missing the ’02 BIG EAST Tournament and then losing to Boston College in the ’03 semifinals and Connecticut in the ’04 BIG EAST final.

If the home teams hold form in Sunday’s quarterfinals, Notre Dame will earn a rematch with the host team Marquette in the BIG EAST semifinals (to be played Nov. 4, on the Milwaukee campus). The Golden Eagles cashed in all four of their shots on goal en route to a 4-1 home win over the Irish on Sept. 30. Since that loss, Notre Dame has rattled off seven straight wins while outscoring the opposition 32-1 in those games . The Irish also have amassed a 186-26 shot edge (avg. 26.7-3.7) during the seven-game win streak, plus a 103-7 margin in shots on goal (14.7-1.0) and 59-17 in corner kicks (8.4-2.4).

Most impresseivly during the win streak, Notre Dame owns nearly a 5-to-1 ratio of goals scored (32) versus opponent shots on goal (7) in that seven-game stretch.

Notre Dame will be looking to maintain its strong play on Sunday this season, as the Irish are 9-0-0 with a 45-2 scoring edge during Sunday games in ’05 (compared to a 7-2-0 record and 36-8 scoring margin in Friday games). The past three Sundays have seen the Irish beat Seton Hall (7-0), Providence (6-0) and Georgetown (6-1) by a 19-1 combined score.

The BIG EAST first-round matchups both will be played on Thursday, Oct. 27 (each at 7:00 p.m. EDT) and will feature: Georgetown (4-6-1; Div.-B 5th-place team) playing at Division-A 4th-place team Syracuse (3-5-3) while Rutgers (5-6-0; Div. B #4) will play host to Pittsburgh (3-6-2; Div. A #5).

All four of the quarterfinal games will be played on Sunday, Oct. 30. Two games are slated for 1:00 p.m. EST starts: West Virginia (7-2-1; Div. A #3) at Villanova (6-1-3; Div. B #2) and the RU/Pitt winner at Div.-A champion UConn (10-1-0). The start time for the final quarterfinal – Louisville (6-5-0; Div. B #3) at Marquette (9-2-0; Div. A #2) – is yet to be announced.

The semifinal games from Marquette’s Valley Fields will be telecast live by CSTV on Nov. 4 (2:30 and 5:00 CST) while the championship game on Nov. 6 (11:00 a.m. CST) also will be aired live by various BIG EAST affiliates (TBA). The semifinal games will not be placed into time slots until after the quarterfinals are completed.

The updated Soccer America national poll has been released and the Irish now stand 5th in those rankings, behind Penn State, Portland, North Carolina and UCLA. Connecticut is 7th and Marquette 11th in the SA poll, making the BIG EAST one of two conferences with three-plus teams currently among the top-12 of those rankings.

Notre Dame senior forward Katie Thorlakson will be looking to resume the postseason magic that saw her score or assist on 18 of the 22 Irish goals during the 2004 postseason run. She set Notre Dame record in 2004 for: points in one postseason (27), goals in one postseason (9), assists in one postseason (9), gamewinning assists in one postseason (3), points in one NCAA Tournament (14), assists in one NCAA Tournament (6) – and points (13), goals 95) and assists (3) in one BIG EAST Tournament.

Thorlakson’s previous showing in a BIG EAST quarterfinal set another Notre Dame record, as she totaled 10 points while becoming the first Irish player ever to score four goals in a postseason game (in that 7-0 quarterfinal win over St. John’s). The eventual All-American scored or assisted on the first six goals in that game, becoming the first Notre Dame player ever to factor into the first six goals of any game.

Thorlakson enters the ’05 postseason as one of 17 players in the 24-year history of Division I women’s soccer ever to reach 50 goals (51) and 50 assists (62) during her career. With nine goals in the ’05 postseason, she would become just the sixth player ever to reach the 60-60 milestone – joining the likes of former ND greats Jenny Streiffer and Cindy Daws, plus former standouts from UNC (Mia Hamm), Santa Clara (Mandy Clemens) and UC Santa Barbara (Carin Jennings).

If Georgetown wins its first-round game at Syracuse, the Hoyas will be hoping for a more competitive game when they return to Alumni Field next Sunday. Notre Dame faced a similar scenario in 1996, beating Villanova in the final regular-season game of ’96 (10-1) and then besting the Wildcats six days later in the BIG EAST semifinals (7-0) at Alumni Field (the quarterfinal round did not begin until ’98).