Notre Dame will enter the 2005 season with the top ranking in the coaches poll for the first time, after being No. 2 in five preveious NSCAA preseason polls.

Notre Dame Women Earn NSCAA Preseason No. 1 Ranking For First Time In Program's History

Aug. 16, 2005

The Notre Dame women’s soccer team has earned the No. 1 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll for the first time, after being No. 2 in five previous NSCAA preseason polls. Notre Dame joins North Carolina and Santa Clara as the only teams ever to be ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA preseason poll.

The Irish return nine starters and 13 of the top-15 players from the 2004 national championship team that went 25-1-1 while outscoring its opponents 70-14. Notre Dame allowed just 71 shots on goal in the ’04 season, nearly matching the Irish goal output for the season.

The team’s 20 returners accounted for 68 of the 70 goal (97%) and 73 of the 77 assists (94%) during the historic 2004 season. The Notre Dame veterans include three – versatile fifth-year player Candace Chapman, senior forward Katie Thorlakson and junior midfielder Jen Buczkowski – who previously have earned NSCAA All-America honors, marking the first time since 1999 that the Irish have entered a season with three or more former All-Americans on the roster (the ’99 players who previously had earned All-America honors included forward Jenny Streiffer, midfielder Anne Makinen, defender Jen Grubb and goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene).

Notre Dame previously was No. 2 in the NSCAA preseason poll every year from 1995-98 and again in 2000, also opening as the No. 3 team in the 1994 and 2004 NSCAA preseason polls. Every Irish team since 1994 has been ranked 7th or higher in the NSCAA preseason poll (also 4th in ’01, 6th in ’03 and 7th in both ’99 or ’02).

Santa Clara ended UNC’s long run as the NSCAA preseason No. 1 by claiming the top spot to start the 2002 and ’03 seasons.

The top two spots in the past 11 NSCAA preseason polls have featured some combination of Notre Dame, UNC and SCU – with the only exception being in 2001, when UCLA claimed the No. 2 spot. (See full 2005 preseason poll at end of this release.)

Despite never previously earning the NSCAA preseason No. 1 ranking, the Irish have gone on to earn the NSCAA top ranking in four of the past 11 seasons (1994, ’96, ’00 and ’04).

Notre Dame returns to action on Thursday, Aug. 18, in an exhibition game vs. 4th-ranked Virginia at The Plex facility in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Irish then will face several teams from the NSCAA preseason poll during the 2005 regular season, most notably Santa Clara (5th), Connecticut (9th) and Florida (19th). Two other Notre Dame opponents, Villanova and Maryland, are among the 35 teams that received votes in the preseason poll.

Four BIG EAST Conference teams received votes in the preseason poll, with West Virginia checking in at No. 15 (WVU and ND will not meet in the unbalanced ’05 BIG EAST schedule).

The BIG EAST placed three teams (ND, UConn and WVU) in the top-15 of the NSCAA preseason poll, matching the most teams from any conference among the top-15.

Notre Dame is one of just five schools to have both its men’s and women’s teams ranked in the top-16 of the NSCAA/adidas preseason polls, with the Irish men checking in at No.16. Other teams with that distinction include Duke (men-3rd, women-12th), Virginia (men-6th, women-4th), UCLA (men-9th, women-3rd) and Boston College (men-15th, women-16th).

The Notre Dame women’s other returning starters include senior Erika Bohn, the 2005 preseason pick for BIG EAST Conference goalkeeper of the year. Bohn received NSCAA all-Great Lakes Region second-team honors as a sophomore in 2003 (when she also was second team all-BIG EAST) but she somehow was left off the postseason honors lists in 2004, despite ultimately leading the nation with a 0.41 goals-against avg. (she was honored at the end of the ’04 NCAA, as defensive MVP of the College Cup).

Sophomore forward Amanda Cinalli – a Freshman All-American and first team all-BIG EAST performer in 2004 – returns up front alongside Thorlakson while senior Annie Schefter (who has the option for a 5th year in ’06) and junior Jill Krivacek are back along with Buczkowski, as the Irish forward and midfield starting units return intact (Chapman played mostly as a forward in ’04 but also has starred as an outside back, earning All-America honors in that role during the ’02 season).

The Irish must replace their graduated central defenders – two-time All-American Melissa Tancredi (like Thorlakson and Chapman, a member of the Canadian National Team) and Icelandic National Team standout Gudrun Gunnarsdottir. Junior outside backs Christie Shaner (left) and Kim Lorenzen (right) return as the veterans of the defense, with each owning some experience playing at the central spots.

Other top returners who have served as starters at times with the Irish include junior midfielder/forward Lizzie Reed, sophomore midfielder Ashley Jones, sophomore midfielder/forward Jannica Tjeder and senior outside back/midfielder Jenny Walz.

Notre Dame’s newcomers include five highly-regarded players fresh out of high school, in addition to a pair of 2004 signees – forwards Kerri Hanks and Susan Pinnick – who did not play with the Irish in the ’04 national championship season. Hanks was rated the nation’s No. 4 recruit in ’04 before training all fall with the U.S. Under-19 National Team that ultimately competed in Thailand at the Under-19 World Championship (she enrolled at Notre Dame in the spring of ’05). Pinnick was unable to play last fall due to injuries suffered in a 2004 summer van accident with her club team – but she made an inspiring return by joining the Irish last spring and playing on a high level this summer with her Carmel Commotion club team. Pinnick and Hanks, who starred for the Dallas Texans, were on two of the four teams that battled for the USYSA girls-19 national title last month.

Notre Dame’s five “true” freshmen include four who signed with the Irish women’s soccer team and lacrosse signee Beth Koloup, who starred in both sports in her hometown area of Bethesda, Md.

Each of the four signees has been rated among the nation’s top recruits, led by midfielder Brittany Bock and defender Carrie Dew (a top candidate to fill one of the open starting spots). Their classmate Kerry Inglis is a promising option at either midfielder or outside back while midfielder Becca Mendoza is a product of the Dallas Sting club who currently is touring South America with the Mexican National Team (she will join the Irish next week).

See the following link for additional preseason info. on the Irish women’s soccer team (also check back to in upcoming days for complete preseason coverage):

2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer – Preseason Poll

Rank – School (2004 Record; Final ’04 ranking)
1. Notre Dame (24-1-1; 1)
2. North Carolina (20-1-2; 5)
3. UCLA (18-7-0; 2)
4. Virginia 17-3-2; 7)
5. Santa Clara (18-5-2; 3)
6. Texas A&M (18-6-0; 15)
7. Portland (20-4-0; 6)
8. Penn State (19-3-1; 9)
9. Connecticut (18-7-1; 13)
10. Ohio State (19-4-3; 8)
11. Tennessee (17-5-2; 11)
12. Duke (15-8-0; 11)
13. Illinois (16-6-2; 14)
14. Stanford (13-6-3; 19)
15. West Virginia (15-6-0; RV)
16. Boston College (15-7-1; 17)
17. Nebraska (14-9-0; 22)
18. Arizona (5-6-0; 25)
19. Florida (16-4-3; 21)
20. Washington (17-5-1; 10)
21. Princeton (19-3-0; 4)
21. Wake Forest (10-7-2; NR)
23. Kansas (18-5-0; 18)
24. California (11-6-3; RV)
25. Wisconsin (16-6-1; RV)

Also receiving votes: Clemson, Auburn, Colorado, Villanova, San Diego, Yale, Dayton, Texas, Maryland, Colgate