Aug. 7, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame women’s soccer team was a popular selection as the favorite to win the 2012 BIG EAST Conference National Division title, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 15 head coaches released Tuesday morning. The Fighting Irish, who have been picked first in each of the past 17 preseason BIG EAST coaches’ polls dating back to 1995, earned 109 points, including 12 of a possible 14 first-place tallies (coaches may not vote for their own teams), in the balloting, as they seek their 15th BIG EAST regular-season crown — 10 of the previous 14, including the past six, have been divisional championships (1999-2001, 2003, 2005-10), while the other four were overall regular-season titles (1995-97, 2004).
Notre Dame, which also was receiving votes in the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll released Tuesday, returns 10 monogram winners, including six starters, from last season’s team that posted a 10-8-3 record and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the 19th consecutive season, the second-longest active streak (and third-longest all-time) in tournament history. The Fighting Irish also went 6-3-2 in the BIG EAST a year ago, finishing third in the National Division and reaching the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
“It says a lot about our program and the amount of success we have been able to achieve that we would be voted first in our division this year,” 14th-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “The BIG EAST continues to get better and better and it’s going to be another challenging season. None of us were pleased with how last year turned out, and we’re working hard to get back to the high level of success we expect to reach every year.”
Junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) was the lone Fighting Irish player to make the 2012 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Laddish was a second-team all-conference selection last year and has started all 46 Fighting Irish matches in her career, collecting three goals and eight assists to date, including a career-high seven assists in 2011. She will miss the first three weeks of this season while competing for the United States at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.
Louisville, the reigning BIG EAST National Division champion, earned two first-place votes and 98 total points in the preseason coaches’ balloting, as the Cardinals look to build upon last year’s NCAA third-round appearance, where they were eliminated by Florida State, 2-0. Georgetown was tabbed third in the National Division with 83 points, while Rutgers collected the other first-place vote and was a close fourth with 78 points.
Marquette earned top honors in the BIG EAST American Division with 97 points (13 first-place votes), easing past Connecticut (84 points, two first-place votes), according to Tuesday’s preseason coaches poll. Marquette advanced to the second round of last year’s NCAA Championship before falling to Penn State, 4-1. Meanwhile, Connecticut will play host to this year’s BIG EAST Championship semifinals (Nov. 2) and final (Nov. 4).
Notre Dame opens its 25th anniversary season at 1 p.m. (ET) Friday with an exhibition match against No. 7 Virginia, followed by a second preseason match at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Baylor — both contests to be played at the team’s practice field, located behind the outfield wall of Frank Eck Baseball Stadium. Admission is free, with fans asked to park in the Gold Lot adjacent to Eck Stadium and follow the access road behind the outfield wall to the practice field.
After opening the regular season on the road with matches at Wisconsin on Aug. 17 (7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET) and Tulsa on Aug. 24 (7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET), the Fighting Irish kick off their 2012 regular season home schedule at 1 p.m. (ET) Aug. 26, welcoming East Carolina to Alumni Stadium for the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
A week later, Notre Dame will play host to the 21st annual adidas Invitational, one of the nation’s top nonconference tournaments, with the Fighting Irish squaring off against No. 17 Santa Clara (7:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 31) and eighth-ranked North Carolina (1:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 2), while another BIG EAST member, Connecticut, completes the tournament field.
To purchase a season pass or single-game tickets for the 2012 Notre Dame women’s soccer season, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on match days.
For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDSoccer or @NDsoccernews), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
— ND —