April 24, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s soccer team will cap off its 2009 spring schedule on Sunday with a pair of games in the inaugural KICKS Against Breast Cancer Tournament, a seven-team, seven-game single-day tournament that will be played in Chicago at Soldier Field, the legendary lakefront home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears.
The Irish will take on Northern Illinois at 11 a.m. (CT) Sunday, then will return to the pitch at 5:05 p.m. (CT) to battle Illinois in the tournament’s final game. Two other BIG EAST Conference schools (DePaul and Marquette) also are taking part in the event, as are Big Ten Conference members Northwestern and Wisconsin. Illinois and Northwestern will play the first match of the day at 8:30 a.m. (CT), with contests continuing approximately every 75 minutes throughout the day. Only the tournament finale (Notre Dame-Illinois) will be a regulation 90-minute match, while the others will be 70 minutes in length.
Tickets for the tournament are available on game day at the stadium for $10 per person (general admission seating), with the ticket including access to the Soldier Field Fan Zone, which will give fans of all ages the opportunity to interact with participating coaches, players, sponsors, and other spokespersons. A “Soccer Moms” clinic also will be held to teach the basics of soccer and provide inside tips to parents, aspiring coaches and players.
Founded by Louise Waxler, the KICKS Against Breast Cancer Tournament honors the memory of Claudia Mayer, who died of breast cancer at the age of 47 in 1996. The KICKS tournaments are held in several locations around the country on an annual basis in April of each year, attracting top collegiate soccer teams from throughout the United States. This will mark the first time one of these tournaments has been held in Chicago.
As part of the event, players and teams also are contributing off the field by accepting a challenge to raise money, on a per-team basis, to help in the fight against breast cancer by selling KICKS merchandise (t-shirts, pins, balls and hats), and other on-campus activities prior to the tournament. The Soldier Field KICKS Against Breast Cancer has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 that will be achieved through the efforts of the student athletes and the generous support of sponsors like adidas. Children’s Memorial Research Center of Chicago will share in the proceeds from Soldier Field KICKS Against Breast Cancer event. For more information and/or to make a donation, visit the tournament web site at: http://www.active.com/donate/Kicksbc/SoldierField.
“We are incredibly honored and proud to have been invited to play in the first KICKS Against Breast Cancer Tournament,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Not only will we have the opportunity to see some top-flight competition and play in a historic stadium like Soldier Field, but more importantly, we will be raising money for a tremendously worthwhile cause. Nearly all of us have been touched by cancer in some form, and I hope everyone will make it a point to come on out this Sunday to help us reach our fundraising goal and enjoy some exciting college soccer.”
NIU posted a 9-6-5 record last season and finished sixth in the Mid-American Conference with a 5-4-2 league record. The Irish have never played the Huskies in the regular season. Meanwhile, Illinois went 12-9-2 last fall (5-5-0, tied for fifth in the Big Ten) and advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship before falling at North Carolina, 3-0. The only time Notre Dame faced the Fighting Illini in a meaningful match came just two seasons ago (Nov. 18, 2007) in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Field, with the Irish downing Illinois, 2-0 on the strength of a 27th-minute goal by rising senior forward Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) and an own goal less than two minutes before halftime.
Following a memorable 26-1-0 season in 2008 and a run to the NCAA national championship match, Notre Dame is 2-1-0 this spring, coming back from an opening 3-1 loss to Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) franchise Saint Louis Athletica with victories over Michigan State (2-0 in Fort Wayne on April 4) and Iowa (2-1 on April 18 at the Alumni Practice Field on campus). In their three spring games thus far, the Irish have continued to display the exceptional offensive balance that was their trademark last year. Rising senior defender/midfielder Amanda Clark (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) scored against Saint Louis Athletica, before a pair of rising sophomores — forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) and midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) — found the back of the net in the win over MSU. Rising junior forward Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) chalked up both goals in Notre Dame’s most recent victory over Iowa last weekend.
— ND —