June 20, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will once again balance a rigorous non-conference schedule with an always-robust Atlantic Coast Conference slate when the Irish kick off the 2016 season.
The Irish announced the 2016 schedule Monday, highlighted by six-of-18 opponents who finished last season ranked within the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) Top 25, and seven that qualified for last year’s NCAA Championship.
“Every game poses unique challenges,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “We want to grow over the course of the season and we’ve got good games to prepare ourselves. We want to grow with each game that we play.
“I’m really excited about what I’ve seen from this group [during a 4-1 spring campaign] and this is a great schedule that will prepare us to do well heading into the postseason.”
The 2016 itinerary includes 10 regular-season matches at Alumni Stadium, including a marquee stretch in October that features ACC match-ups against Clemson (October 6), Virginia (October 9) and North Carolina (October 14). All three foes finished within the NSCAA Top 15 last season.
First, however, the Irish will tackle a tough non-league schedule, featuring Big Ten Conference opponents Wisconsin (at home, August 21) and Michigan (at Ann Arbor, August 25) and SEC foe Missouri (at home, September 4) in the early portion of the season. They will cap non-conference play with a West Coast trip to visit Santa Clara (September 9) and Stanford (September 11), both 2015 NCAA qualifiers and year-end top 20 squads.
“We always looks to schedule a competitive non-conference to prepare ourselves for ACC play,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “We have a lot of great opponents and a great road trip to play Santa Clara and Stanford. We play a host of midwest teams and teams in the top 50 of the RPI. It’s going to be great prep heading into the ACC.”
The first ACC test will come on the road when the Irish swing through Syracuse (September 18) and NC State (September 22). Then, they return home to face Pittsburgh (September 25) before heading to Louisville to kick off October. After meeting Clemson, Virginia and UNC at home, the Irish will visit Virginia Tech (October 20) and Wake Forest (October 23) before wrapping up the season at home against Miami (October 27).
New this season will be an expanded ACC Championship, set to take place over the course of a week from October 30-November 6. Eight teams — increased from four — will compete for the league title, with quarterfinal matches taking place at campus sites and the semifinals and finals scheduled at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Romagnolo said. “It’s more teams that get to participate and great prep for the NCAA tournament. To have that dress rehearsal for the NCAA is a great thing.”
The 35th annual Women’s College Cup will also take place at WakeMed Soccer Park, replacing Orlando’s to-be-completed Orlando City Soccer Club Stadium. With construction on the Orlando facility not slated to finish until 2017, this year’s NCAA Championship was moved back to Cary, which has hosted the College Cup in seven of the last 13 years.
The Irish finished last season with a 14-5-1, including a 6-4-0 conference mark. They qualified for their 23rd consecutive NCAA Championship and advanced to the tournament’s second round. In matches against teams the Irish will again meet in 2016, they went 5-3-1. They return 21 veterans and three newly minted captains in seniors Sandra Yu, Kaela Little and Kaleigh Olmsted. Little and Olmsted were named captains on June 16 alongside Yu following the team’s foreign tour in France.
Season tickets for the 2016 Notre Dame women’s soccer campaign are available through the Murnane Family Ticket Office. Early bird pricing of $30 for an adult season ticket, $22 for a youth/senior season ticket and $75 for a fan pass four-pack of season tickets ($100 value) is currently being offered. Contact the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 or visit UND.com/tickets.
2016 Notre Dame Women’s Soccer Schedule
All Times ET
9 — Northwestern (Exhibition), 3 p.m.
14 — @ Illinois (Exhibition), 11 a.m.
19 — Wright State, 7 p.m.
21 — Wisconsin, 3 p.m.
25 — @ Michigan, 7 p.m.
28 — Western Michigan, 5 p.m.
2 — Illinois State, 7 p.m.
4 — Missouri, 5 p.m.
9 — @ Santa Clara, 10 p.m.
11 — @ Stanford, 2 p.m.
18 — @ Syracuse*, 12 p.m.
22 — @ NC State*, 7 p.m.
25 — Pittsburgh*, 1 p.m.
1 — @ Louisville*, 7 p.m.
6 — Clemson*, 7 p.m.
9 — Virginia*, 1 p.m.
14 — North Carolina*, 7 p.m.
20 — @ Virginia Tech*, TBD
23 — @ Wake Forest*, 12 p.m.
27 — Miami*, 7 p.m.
October 30-November 6 — ACC Championship
Opponents’ 2015 NSCAA Postseason Rankings
No. 5 Virginia
No. 6 Stanford
No. 13 Clemson
No. 14 UNC
No. 15 Notre Dame
No. 18 Virginia Tech
No. 20 Santa Clara
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.