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What To Watch For: Illinois State

Sept. 1, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will commence a new series Friday when the No. 23 Irish meet the Illinois State Redbirds for the first time in program history.

WHAT: Match 5
WHO: No. 23 Notre Dame (3-1-0) vs. Illinois State (1-3-0)
WHERE: Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. (ET) – Sept. 2, 2016
LIVE STREAM: ACC Network Extra

Scouting Illinois State
The Redbirds enter Friday’s game with a 1-3-0 record, having snapped a three-match losing streak their last time out in a 4-0 win over Eastern Illinois. Illinois State dropped their first three matches to Wisconsin, Illinois and Marquette.

The Redbirds, who were picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference during the preseason, have four one-goal scorers in Brianne Richards, Lauren Koehl, Abby Basler and Kelli Zickert. Koehl, who was a First-Team All-MVC pick in 2015, is the team points leader with an additional assist. Joining Koehl on the all-conference scrolls were returning senior defender Paige Jarsombeck (second team), senior midfielder Brooke Ksiazek (honorable mention), and sophomore defenders Riley Ebenroth and Megan Kozlow (All-Freshman team).

The Irish and Redbirds have never met. Illinois State is a 10-time Missouri Valley Conference Champion, six-time MVC Tournament Champion and six-time NCAA Championship participant.

The Last Time Out
The Irish dropped their first game of the season Thursday on the road at Michigan, but got back in the win column on Monday against Western Michigan to remain undefeated at home.

Two defensive miscues led to goals for Michigan in an otherwise even match-up Thursday. The Wolverines led just 4-3 in shots at the half, while the teams tied at 2 in first-half shots on goal. The final stats were similarly close, as Michigan led 9-7 in shots and 5-3 in shots on goal and both teams managed to earn two corner kicks.

The Irish found their offensive attack against Western Michigan in a lightning-postponed match that was moved from Sunday to Monday. The Irish got on the board via a Bronco own goal — the second own goal that has benefitted the Irish this season — as Kaleigh Olmsted dribbled behind the WMU defense and struck a cross that careened off a defender into the goal. Notre Dame got its first credited goal from junior forward Karin Muya on a well-placed through ball from senior midfielder Cindy Pineda to give the Irish a 2-0 lead at the half. Junior forward Meghan Doyle wrapped the scoring with a rebound goal off a shot from Muya that was batted away by WMU goalkeeper Stephanie Heber.

Stacking Up
At No. 23, the Irish are one of seven Atlantic Coast Conference teams to appear in the final regular season NSCAA Division I Women’s Soccer poll, along with No. 1 Florida State, No. 3 Virginia, No. 6 Clemson, No. 7 Duke, No. 8 North Carolina, and No. 16 Virginia Tech. All of those teams earned seeds in the 2015 NCAA Championship, while Boston College (receiving votes) also earned a bid to round out ACC representation.

The (Almost) 2-0 Guarantee
Notre Dame is a combined 366-1-1 (.996) all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead, and has won 339 of its last 340 contests when going ahead 2-0 (since a 3-3 draw with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati). The only loss in that span was a 3-2 defeat in double overtime against North Carolina (9/20/14).

In fact, just three of the past 247 Fighting Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have won or even come back to tie, something achieved by five opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (ND won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at old Alumni Field (ND led 2-0, later tied 2-2 and 3-3, ND won 4-3), Duke on Nov. 30, 2007, in the NCAA quarterfinals at old Alumni Field (ND won 3-2), Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (ND won 3-2 in OT), and most recently, North Carolina on Sept. 20, 2014 at Alumni Stadium (UNC won 3-2 in 2OT).

— ND —

Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.