Aug. 17, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 18 University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team is prepared to kick off its 30th season with a matchup against intrastate foe Butler at 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Alumni Stadium. The match will be broadcast by the ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN.
Riding a regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, the Irish return nine starters as well as a few familiar faces that spent the 2016 season competing with national teams.
Notre Dame returns a back line that limited opponents to just nine goals and tallied 15 shutouts last season. The Irish, which played two exhibition matches this preseason, saw signs of its 2016 defense, particularly during the second half of its match at Northwestern on Sunday.
The Irish defense will feature a new leader and voice in goal as they turn to one of their goalkeepers to fill the shoes of four-year starter Kaela Little.
Irish co-captain and senior defender Ginny McGowan said the team is excited to get the season started on Friday.
“We do have a new keeper since Kaela graduated, but our confidence in our goalie has not changed. We put in a lot of work in the spring to gel as a defensive unit,” McGowan said. “From the first game on, we want to make a statement and work toward being the best defense in the country.
“We have experience as a back line, and for me, it’s important to keep using my voice and providing that leadership. Really, we all need to work together in order to get that shutout that we strive for in every game.”
WHAT: Butler vs. No. 18 Notre Dame
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on August 18, 2017
WHERE: Alumni Stadium
LIVE STREAM: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
LIVE STATS: Click .
Out of the Gates
In the program’s 30-year history, Notre Dame owns a 25-3-1 (.862) record in season openers. The Irish own a 15-1-1 (.882) record on the road and a 10-2-0 record at home (.833).
Since 1999, the Irish control a 15-2-1 (.833) record in season openers, outscoring the opposition by an 81-11 margin in those 18 matches (31-4 in the past 11 matches).
Notre Dame is undefeated in the all-time series with Butler, entering Friday’s match with a 10-0 record, including a 6-0 mark at home. Notre Dame has outscored the Bulldogs, 43-6, in the previous 10 meetings.
The Irish last faced the Bulldogs on October 7, 2003, when Notre Dame defeated Butler, 3-0.
Notre Dame women’s soccer celebrates its 30th anniversary during the 2017 campaign. The Irish have gone 533-110-36 (.811) in the program’s history with 24 appearances in the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame has made 12 appearances in the College Cup, and the Irish have won three national titles.
TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI
TopDrawerSoccer.com released its Preseason Best XI on Monday, and sophomore Jennifer Westendorf received a spot on the second team. A 2016 All-ACC Freshman Team and 2016 All-ACC Second Team selection, Westendorf led the team in goals (six) and tied for the team lead with 13 points.
Flores Sisters Reunited
Junior Sabrina Flores returns to the college soccer conversation a year after competing with the U-23 Women’s National Team. Sabrina rejoins her twin sister, Monica, who is a senior on the Irish roster.
Monica competed with Mexico in the U-20 FIFA World Cup in 2016 but continued to play with the Irish throughout part of the 2016 NCAA season. In 2016, Monica started 14 matches and tallied four points on four assists before competing with Mexico.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.