June 6, 2003
Plenty of challenges will await the Notre Dame women’s soccer team during its 2003 fall schedule, headlined by nearly half of the regular-season games (nine of 20) versus teams that competed in the 2002 NCAA Championship.
Most notable among those games is a pair of West coast matchups versus fellow national powers Stanford and Santa Clara (Sept. 19 and 21, at the SCU Adidas Classic), plus season-opening tests vs. Hartford and Wake Forest at the University of Connecticut Adidas Classic (Aug. 29 and 31).
The Irish again will welcome top-level competition to Alumni Field for the Notre Dame Classic presented by St. Andrew’s Products, with ND facing Arizona State (Sept. 5) and Oklahoma (Sept. 7) during the weekend corresponding with the football team’s season opener vs. Washington State (Rutgers will round out the four-team field at the ND Classic).
Other dates on the ’03 scheduled vs. teams that competed in the ’02 NCAAs include home games vs. BIG EAST Conference foes West Virginia (Oct. 3), Villanova (Oct. 5) and Connecticut (Oct. 17), plus the annual Midwest showdown with Michigan (Oct. 29, at ND’s Alumni Field).
In addition to the above games, Notre Dame’s 12-game home slate includes matchups vs. Western Kentucky (Sept. 13), North Texas (Sept. 28), Indiana State (Sept. 30), Butler (Oct. 7), Georgetown (Oct. 10) and Miami (Oct. 12). The Irish also will play BIG EAST Mid-Atlantic Division road games at Pittsburgh (Oct. 19), Rutgers (Oct. 24) and Seton Hall (Oct. 26) and a cross-divisional game at St. John’s (Sept. 11).
The BIG EAST quarterfinals will be played on campus sites (Nov. 1 or 2) while the semifinals and championship game will be held at Rutgers Yurcak Field (Dec. 7 and 9).
NCAA tournament play begins with first and second-round games on campus sites (Nov. 14-16), followed by the third-round games on Nov. 21-23 and the quarterfinals on Nov. 28-30 (all on campus sites).
The 2003 Women’s College Cup semifinals and final will be played at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C., on Dec. 5 and 7.
Santa Clara lost the 2002 NCAA championship game versus WCC rival Portland (2-1 in OT, after winning the ’01 title) while three other ND opponents advanced to the 2002 NCAA quarterfinals: Stanford (lost to Portland on PKs, after being ranked No. 1 for most of ’02), UConn (lost to Penn State) and Michigan (lost to SCU).
Three others – WVU (vs. Virginia), WFU (vs. UNC) and ASU (vs. SCU) – lost second-round NCAA games in 2002 while Hartford lost to Nebraska in the opening round and Yale advanced past Villanova on PKs.
Notre Dame – which advanced to the 2002 NCAA round of 16 before losing to top-ranked Stanford on a late goal – is set to return nearly all of its ’02 starting lineup, with the exception of gaduated midfielder Ashley Dryer, while welcoming a highly-touted freshman class (see www.socceramerica.com for rankings). Three other players who missed the bulk of the 2002 season due to injuries – defender Vanessa Pruzinsky (has applied for fifth year of eligibility), rising junior defender Gudrun Gunnarsdottir and sophomore-to-be midfielder/defender Annie Schefter – also are slated to return to an Irish lineup that could be one of the deepest in the program’s history.