June 15, 2007
The Notre Dame women’s soccer team again is set to face a challenging schedule in 2007, with several games versus some of the nation’s top programs – headlined by preseason exhibitions versus North Carolina and Virginia, plus regular-season matchups with top teams Santa Clara, Penn State, Florida, Connecticut, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Michigan and Villanova. The Irish will play at Alumni Field during the first four 2007 home football weekends (corresponding with the football games vs. Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Boston College and USC) and likewise could be playing postseason home games during the weekends of the ND-Navy and ND-Duke football games.
Twelve of the 20 teams on Notre Dame’s 2007 schedule (including both exhibition opponents) advanced to the 2006 NCAAs, with North Carolina edging the Irish in the title game while Penn State lost to Notre Dame in the earlier quarterfinal round of the ’06 NCAAs. Three other teams on Notre Dame’s 2007 schedule – Florida, Stanford and Virginia – all advanced to the round-of-16 in the 2006 NCAA Tournament while UConn, Oklahoma State, Villanova and Rutgers all made it to the second round and three others (Santa Clara, Michigan and Louisville) also were 2006 NCAA entrants. One noteworthy change throughout Division I women’s soccer in 2007 will feature the season starting one week later and all of the postseason rounds thus shifting back – with the BIG EAST championship game on Nov. 11 while the NCAA final will be played on Dec. 9 (those games were on Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 in 2006).
Notre Dame – which will play the home exhibition versus North Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 19 (1:00), in a rare early-season rematch of the previous season’s national champonship game – will enjoy a 10-game slate of regular-season home games in 2007, including another rarity with an August game in the annual meeting with Michigan (Aug. 31, 7:30) on the Friday night before the football opener versus Georgia Tech (the Irish and Wolverines typically have played closer to the end of the season). Notre Dame also will serve as the host team for the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic in early September, with the Firday-night action on Sept. 7 to feature Oklahoma State versus Washington State (5:00) and Notre Dame versus Princeton later that night (7:30). The tournament then will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 16, with the Princeton-WSU game game at 11:00 while Notre Dame and Oklahoma State will meet at 1:30.
Note that normal admission prices will be in effect for the exhibition game versus North Carolina, with that game expected to attract a large crowd to see the nation’s two winngest programs over the past four seasons (UNC went 97-3-3 from 2003-06 while the Irish were 92-8-3; in the past three years, from 2004-06, ND went 72-5-2 while UNC was 70-3-3). Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance for the ND-UNC game. Season packages and single-game tickets will go on sale in early July – with online purchases available at und.com (or call 574-631-7356, or stop by the Joyce Center ticket office during regular business hours).
Notre Dame – which ranked fourth nationally in average home attendance during the 2006 season (1,901; trailing only Texas A&M, Portland and BYU) – will be focused on continuing its impressive play at home during the 2007 season. The Irish own the third-longest home winning streak (32 games, dating back to 2004) in NCAA Division I women’s soccer history, spanning all regular-season and postseason games. North Carolina (84; 1986-95) and Penn State (39; 2001-04) are the only D-I teams ever to compile longer home winning streaks than Notre Dame, which also owns the third-longest home unbeaten streak at 41 games (40-0-1, dating back to the start of ’04; UNC has the top spots, with the 84-game home unbeaten streak from ’86-’94 and a 56-game home unbeaten streak from ’99-’04).
The Irish will be looking to keep rolling in 2007, led by seven returning starters, their top-four scorers from 2006 and an overall veteran group that accounted for nearly 90 percent of the goalscoring in the NCAA runner-up season (74 of 85). Junior forward Kerri Hanks returns after becoming the first sophomore (male or female) ever to win college soccer’s prestigious Hermann Trophy player-of-the-year award, with other returning starters including senior F/M Amanda Cinalli, senior outside back/midfielder Ashley Jones, senior goalkeeper Lauren Karas, junior center back Carrie Dew, junior M/F Brittany Bock and sophomore forward Michele Weissenhofer (sophomore center back Haley Ford had an impressive 2006 postseason while starting in the place of the injured Dew).
The 2007 home schedule also includes a split pair of games versus conference (DePaul) and non-conference (Penn State) opponents on Sept. 21 (7:30) and 23 (12:30), plus a Sunday game with Cincinnati on Sept. 30 (1:00) and four straight home games against BIG EAST teams in mid-October (Fri./Sun.), versus: Georgetown (Oct. 12, 7;30), Villanova (Oct. 14, 1:00), Providence (Oct. 19, 7:30) and Connecticut (Oct. 21, 11:00 a.m.). The DePaul and PSU games correspond with the Michigan State football weekend while the GU and VU games fall on the same weekend when the ND football team will take on Boston College, followed by the PC and UConn games flanking the annual football showdown with USC. The Irish also could play host to a BIG EAST quarterfinal on the weekend of the Nov. 3 football game versus Navy and likewise could be home for NCAA first- and second-round action during the weekend of the Nov. 17 football game with Duke.
The Irish are slated to play nine total road games – coast-to-coast, in six different states – with those matchups including another trip across the state of Indiana to participate in the annual IPFW Soccer Showcase (Thur., Aug. 23 vs. Virginia, at Heffern Field Stadium in a 6:00 game). The regular-season road challenges include an early test at Florida on Sunday, Sept. 2 (1:30) and participation in the Santa Clara Classic, with the Irish and Broncos set to renew one of women’s soccer’s greatest rivalries on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7:30. Notre Dame then will face another familair Bay Area foe, Stanford, on Sunday, Sept. 9 (11:00 a.m.; also at SCU’s Buck Shaw Stadium). The team’s first BIG EAST road game will be at Louisville on Friday, Sept. 28, followed by Friday/Sunday road weekends at Syracuse (Oct. 4, 7:00) and St. John’s (Oct. 7, 1:00), and Seton Hall (Oct. 26, 7:00) and Rutgers (Oct. 28, 1:00).
The 16-team BIG EAST alignment again will include two divisions, with each team playing the others in its division and four from the other division (the Irish will not play Marquette, South Florida, Pittsburgh or West Virginia in the 2007 regular season). The 10-team BIG EAST Championship will open with a pair of first-round games to be played on Oct 31 or Nov. 1. Those games will feature the 4th-place finishers from each division vs. the respective 5th-place team from the other division, with the winners advancing on to the quarterfinals (the top three teams in each division will fill out the quarterfinal field).
The BIG EAST quarterfinals are slated for Nov. 3 or 4, with the top two finishers in each division serving as the host teams. The BIG EAST semifinals (Nov. 9) and championship game (Nov. 11) will be held at West Virginia’s Dick Diesk Stadium – marking just the second time since 2000 that the BIG EAST championship weekend has not been held at UConn or Rutgers (the event is scheduled for a return to Alumni Field in 2008, which will provide Notre Dame its third time as the host school and first since 2000).
NCAA Tournament first- and second-round games will be played Nov. 16 and 18 at campus sites. Third-round NCAA games then will be contested the following week on campus sites (Nov. 23-25) while the campus-site quarterfinals are set for Nov. 30-Dec 1. Thanksgiving weekend traditionally has corresponded with those key “final-8” showdowns but teams now will structure their holiday break around the third-round games (final-16).
The NCAA semifinals (Dec. 7) and championship game (Dec. 9) will return to an on-campus site in 2007, at Texas A&M’s Aggie Soccer Complex.
See the schedule link at und.com for the complete schedule (also will be linked to this release, as will a PDF schedule link at a later date; be sure to check back to the schedule page for any changes that may occur).