Nov. 12, 2001
The Notre Dame women’s soccer team (16-2-1)-winners of eight of its last nine games-will open play in the 2001 NCAA Championship by playing host to first and second-round games at Alumni Field, on Friday, Nov. 16 and Sunday, Nov. 18, with the 2001 NCAA field expanding from 48 to 64 teams.
Friday’s first game will feature the University of Cincinnati versus Oakland (Mich.) University at 5:00 p.m. EST, followed by Notre Dame vs. Eastern Illinois University at 7:30. The winners then will play in Sunday’s second-round game, at 1:00 p.m.
Notre Dame was the seventh of eight national seeds, meaning that the Irish also would host third-round action (Nov. 23-25) should Notre Dame advance past the first two rounds. The winner of this weekend’s games at Notre Dame will face the winner of the games at Virginia, featuring Wake Forest versus William & Mary and Liberty vs. UVa.
The other portion of Notre Dame’s bracket is led by No. 2 seed Santa Clara, the only seeded team that will open NCAA play on the road. SCU will face Evansville in a first-round game at the University of Illinois, with the host Illini facing Syracuse. The winner of that foursome will play a third-round game vs. the winner of games being played at Marquette (Dartmouth vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Michigan vs. Marquette)-with that winner then advancing to the quarterfinals (Nov. 30-Dec. 2) versus the team that wins the matchup of the winners from the ND and UVa sites.
Eastern Illinois (14-5-0) won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, beating Southeast Missouri 1-0 in the OVC title game. Cincinnati (18-3-0) claimed the Conference USA tournament title with a 1-0 victory over Marquette in the title game.
Oakland (16-3-1) captured the Mid-Continent Conference title with a 3-0 win at Oral Roberts in the Mid-Con. title game. The Golden Grizzlies also own noteworthy non-conference wins over Marquette (2-1) and Purdue (2-0) while playing to a scoreless tie with Michigan and losing 3-1 at USC.
“We are a little disappointed that we weren’t able to secure one of the top four seeds but after that you just have to take the challenge as it’s presented to you,” said Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum, whose first three Irish teams have combined for a 60-7-3 record.
“We have tried to look at this postseason as truly a second season and hope to play with a lot of emotion and consistency throughout the NCAAs. We’ve struggled to put together a string of strong games all season and this is as good a time as any. I fully expect this team to go out and contend once more for the national championship. That’s the standard for this program and this group is up to the task, so we’re ready to get started in the NCAAs.”
Eastern Illinois and Oakland are two of 16 teams that qualified for the NCAAs for the first time and neither school previously has faced Notre Dame in women’s soccer.
Notre Dame leads its all-time series with Cincinnati (4-0-1), including a 23-4 scoring edge and a 7-1 Irish win in the 1997 NCAA first round.
The national top-eight seeds were led by North Carolina and Santa Clara, followed by UCLA, Portland, Stanford, Florida, Notre Dame and Connecticut.
The BIG EAST led the nation’s conferences with eight teams selected, led by ND and UConn, plus: West Virginia (selected as host site), Boston College, Rutgers, Villanova, Miami (Fla.) and Syracuse.
The 20th annual NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup will be played Dec. 7 (semifinals) and 9 (final) at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA semifinals in six of the previous seven seasons, including the 1995 national championship campaign and NCAA runner-up showings in 1994, ’96 and ’99 (the Irish also advanced to the quarterfinal round in 1998).