May 16, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The reigning NCAA national champion Notre Dame women’s soccer team will play nine regular-season matches against NCAA Championship qualifiers, highlighted by a rematch of last year’s NCAA title contest against Stanford and a visit to perennial rival North Carolina, as part of a challenging 2011 Fighting Irish schedule that was released Monday following approval by the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics.
The Stanford match (set for 7:30 p.m. PT on Sept. 9 at Stanford’s Laird Q. Cagan Stadium) is part of Notre Dame’s bi-annual trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, with the Fighting Irish also traveling to Santa Clara two days later (11:30 a.m. PT), reprising a pair of 1-0 victories along the way (vs. SCU at the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic; vs. Stanford in the NCAA final at Cary, N.C.). Both of this year’s Bay Area contests are part of the Santa Clara adidas Classic, the last of three tournaments on Notre Dame’s upcoming schedule.
For the second time in four seasons, the Fighting Irish will head to Chapel Hill, N.C., to participate in the Carolina Classic, hosted by UNC at Fetzer Field. The marquee match of the tournament could be the opener, as Notre Dame squares off with the Tar Heels at 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 26. A year ago, the Fighting Irish eliminated North Carolina from the NCAA Championship with a 4-1 third-round victory at Fetzer Field, handing the Tar Heels their first multi-goal loss in 25 years and the largest home defeat in program history.
Notre Dame also will take on Duke at the Carolina Classic (1 p.m. ET, Aug. 28), facing a Blue Devils’ squad that likewise advanced to the third round of the 2010 NCAA Championship before falling at Oklahoma State (the same OSU team the Fighting Irish would defeat in the next round of the tournament).
Another of the cornerstones of this year’s Notre Dame schedule will be the 19th annual Notre Dame adidas Invitational (formerly known as the Inn at Saint Mary’s Soccer Classic) at Alumni Stadium. In their first tournament match at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 2, the Fighting Irish will face Tulsa (head coach Randy Waldrum’s former employer from 1989-94) after Indiana and Western Michigan do battle in the night’s first contest at 5 p.m. ET. The matchups will switch on Sept. 4 for the second day of the tournament, with WMU facing Tulsa at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Notre Dame and Indiana at 1:30 p.m. ET — the latter match will mark the first time in a decade that the two in-state rivals have met in the sport of women’s soccer (the Fighting Irish earned a 2-1 overtime victory in their most recent encounter on Sept. 7, 2001, at old Alumni Field).
Other 2011 schedule highlights for Notre Dame include non-conference home contests with Big Ten Conference members Nebraska (noon ET, Aug. 9 – free exhibition) and Wisconsin (season opener at 5:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 19), and the traditional exhibition match with Virginia in Traverse City, Mich. (Aug. 12). The Fighting Irish kick off BIG EAST Conference play at home on Sept. 16 against Louisville (5 p.m. ET), before embarking on a three-match road trip that features a demanding weekend swing to last year’s BIG EAST Championship runner-up (and NCAA Championship second-round qualifier) South Florida (7:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 23) and the reigning BIG EAST American Division champion and NCAA Championship third-round participant Marquette (1 p.m. CT, Sept. 25).
Notre Dame closes the regular season by playing five of its final seven matches at home, most notably welcoming Connecticut (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2), Georgetown (7:30 p.m. ET, Oct. 14) and DePaul (7:30 p.m. ET, Oct. 21) to Alumni Stadium. The UConn match will be the first meeting between the Fighting Irish and Huskies since Connecticut snapped Notre Dame’s NCAA Division I-record 77-match unbeaten streak (and 99-match home unbeaten streak) against BIG EAST opponents with a 2-0 victory in last year’s BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Alumni Stadium.
Meanwhile, Georgetown is coming off a trip to the 2010 NCAA Championship quarterfinals, where the Hoyas narrowly lost to Ohio State. Notre Dame wound up eliminating the Buckeyes, 1-0 in the NCAA Women’s College Cup semifinals at Cary, N.C.
The DePaul match on Oct. 21 also will serve as Senior Night for the Fighting Irish, with the program taking time to recognize the accomplishments of its departing veterans in the traditional pre-game ceremony.
After the first two rounds of the BIG EAST tournament are played at campus sites on Oct. 27 & 30, West Virginia University will be the host site for the BIG EAST Championship semifinals and title match on Nov. 4 & 6 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The NCAA Championship kicks off Nov. 11 at campus sites around the country, while the month-long tournament culminates Dec. 2 & 4 with the NCAA Women’s College Cup in Kennesaw, Ga., at KSU Soccer Stadium (home of Kennesaw State University and Women’s Professional Soccer’s Atlanta Beat).
It’s expected that a handful of Notre Dame’s matches this season will be televised, although those coverage plans have not yet been finalized. The complete Fighting Irish broadcast schedule for the 2011 campaign will be announced at a later date.
Led by Waldrum, the reigning National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Mondo National Coach of the Year, the Fighting Irish will return seven starters (plus three others with previous starting experience) and 20 total players from their national championship team, led by senior forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) — the 2010 Hermann Trophy runner-up/Honda Sports Award recipient/NSCAA first-team All-American and United States Under-23 National Team forward, as well as 2010 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player/co-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) and 2009 NSCAA first-team All-America midfielder/Hermann Trophy semifinalist Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West). Notre Dame also welcomes a stellar six-player incoming freshman class that includes five players ranked among the top 60 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.
Tickets for the 2011 Notre Dame women’s soccer season will soon go on sale at Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, which can be reached by phone (574-631-7356), in person through the ticket windows in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (located inside Gate 9) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women’s soccer news Twitter page (www.twitter.com/NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women’s soccer page at UND.com.
— ND —