Junior Kaela Little ranks sixth in the nation in goals against average (0.47).

What To Watch For: Oakland, NCAA First Round

Nov. 13, 2015

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the 23rd consecutive season, the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer program will embark on what it hopes will be a long run through the NCAA Championship, en route to its first College Cup appearance since 2010.

But first, the Fighting Irish will need to go through Oakland:

WHAT: NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship First Round
WHO: No. 10/7 Notre Dame (13-4-1, 6-4-0 ACC) vs. Oakland (8-5-7, 7-2-3 Horizon League)
WHERE: Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. (ET) – November 13, 2015

Below is all you need to know ahead of Friday’s postseason clash with the Golden Grizzlies:

Irish In The NCAA Championship
Notre Dame is making its 23rd consecutive appearance in the in the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, the second-longest active streak to North Carolina, which has never missed a tournament since its genesis in 1982. It will be the 22nd time in that span that the Irish have hosted a preliminary round game.

The Irish own a 64-22 record in the NCAA Championship, including a staggering 44-3 mark while playing in tournament games at home. The last time the Irish dropped an NCAA Championship game as a host was November 16, 2003, when they lost a second-round match to Michigan, 1-0. The Irish have claimed three national championships, second only to North Carolina’s 21 titles.

Scouting Oakland
The Golden Grizzlies earned their eighth NCAA Championship appearance, winning the Horizon League Championship with a 1-0 victory over Wright State on Saturday. After losing or tying in its first eight games this season, Oakland went unbeaten in its final 11 games, with eight wins and three draws in that span. In that time they outscored opponents 15-2 with seven straight shutouts. The Golden Grizzlies are 0-6-1 all-time in the tournament.

Oakland is led by four All-Horizon League selections, with first-teamers Joan Sieja (forward) and Alice Palmer (midfielder) and all-freshman honorees Emily Zweng (goalkeeper) and Maria Zandi (defender) highlighting the roster. Sieja leads the Golden Grizzlies with 14 points (3G-8A), while Palmer’s five goals (11 total points) are a team-high. Zweng has posted a 7-0-3 record and has posted a 0.17 GAA in 12 games played.

The Last Time They Met
The Irish and Grizzlies last met in the 2014 Notre Dame home opener, in which the Irish earned a 3-0 victory. Notre Dame was lifted by then-senior Lauren Bohaboy, who scored two goals, while current sophomore Kaitlin Klawunder tallied the game-winner in the 27th minute on an empty-net shot from close range.

Bohaboy scored her two goals in the span of 12 minutes in the section, the first in the 63rd minute on a rebound shot, then in the 75th minute on a turn-around shot off the feed from current senior defender Brittany Von Rueden. The Irish held a dominant 27-2 shot advantage on the Golden Grizzlies, including a 12-0 margin in shots on goal.

Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against Oakland, with all four meetings occurring at home. The teams’ first meeting was also their only other NCAA Championship showdown, which the Irish won 7-1 on November 10, 2006. Notre Dame has outscored Oakland 17-1 in the series.

Last Time Out: Virginia Tech
Notre Dame closed out the regular season with arguably its most impressive win of the season with a 3-0 victory over thenNo. 5/4 Virginia Tech on October 30. The Irish outshot the Hokies 21-8, including a 13-5 margin in shots on goal.

The Irish dominated from the outset, outshooting the Hokies 9-0 in the first half, though the score remained 0-0 at halftime. They didn’t break through until the 73rd minute, when the Irish quickly tallied a pair of goals within 19 seconds of each other. Sophomore Ginny McGowan notched the first goal of her career (and eventual game-winner) off a volley from Brittany Von Rueden, while Anna Maria Gilbertson followed with a goal off a free kick just outside the penalty box when Virginia Tech’s Sydney Curtis was issued a yellow card. Gilbertson capped the Irish scoring in the game’s final minute when she charged in on a pass from Sabrina Flores and punched it in from eight yards out.

Stacking Up
At No. 10, the Irish are one of seven Atlantic Coast Conference teams to appear in the NSCAA Division I Women’s Soccer poll, along with No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Florida State, No. 7 Clemson, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 20 Duke. All of those teams earned seeds in the NCAA Championship, while Boston College also earned a bid to round out ACC representation.

  • The Irish rank sixth in the nation in goals against average (0.482) and 11th in shutout percentage (0.611).
  • Individually, Anna Maria Gilbertson ranks eighth in the country and leads the ACC in shots (94) and shots per game (5.22). She also ranks 11th nationally in shots on goal per game (2.33).
  • Gilbertson comes in fifth place in the conference in goals (11) and tying for second in gamewinning goals (5).
  • Kaela Little ranks sixth in the nation and first in the league in goals against average (0.47), and is third in the league in save percentage (.829) and shutouts (7). She also sits in first in shutouts per game (0.50).

ACC Honors Roll In
The Irish recieved a bevy of accolades following the close of the regular season last week, with players garnering weekly and season honors.

They opened the week with the announcement of both offensive and defensive players of the week on Tuesday, as senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson was named the conference co-Offensive Player of the Week after her two-goal performance against Virginia Tech, while Kaela Little earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording five saves against the Hokies.

On Thursday, the Irish added four allACC selections to the list, as Gilbertson and senior defenders Cari Roccaro and Katie Naughton were named to the AllACC Second Team and forward Natalie Jacobs was selected for the All-Freshman Team. It was the first all-conference honor for Gilbertson and Jacobs, while it became Naughton’s third and Roccaro’s fourth (BIG EAST and ACC).

For the latest Fighting Irish women’s soccer coverage, be sure log on to UND.com, follow @NDSoccer on Twitter and like Notre Dame Women’s Soccer on Facebook.


Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant 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 and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.