Nov. 11, 1997
Notre Dame Women's Soccer To Face Cincinnati In NCAA First Round
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Notre Dame's second-ranked and 20-0-1 women's soccer team will face Conference USA champion Cincinnati in the first round of the 1997 NCAA women's soccer on Sun., Nov. 16, at Alumni Field at 1:00 p.m. Finalists in each of the last three championships, the Irish earned the second of eight seeds in the 32-team tournament.
Notre Dame won the BIG EAST championship to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA championship while Cincinnati won the Conference USA crown and beat Trans America Athletic Conference champion Georgia State 2-1 in overtime in a play-in game to earn a bid. The first three rounds of the championship will be held on campus sites with the semifinals and finals to played at UNC-Greensboro Dec. 5-7.
The Irish and Bearcats have met four times with the last meeting coming in 1995, a 2-2 tie in Cincinnati. Notre Dame won the first three meetings 4-0 in 1991, 3-0 in 1992 and 7-1 in 1994. The Irish and Bearcats have two common opponents in 1997. Notre Dame beat Indiana 8-0 and Michigan State 7-0 while Cincinnati lost to Indiana 2-1 and beat Michigan State 2-1 in overtime.
The Bearcats are led by Tina Matlock who scored both goals in the win over Georgia State. She has scored 13 goals and recorded 10 assists to lead Cincinnati. Goalkeeper Christy Hoffman has played allowed just 0.95 goals per game while making 88 saves and registering nine shutouts.
"Cincinnati will be a tough opponent for us," said Notre Dame head coach Chris Petrucelli. "Traditionally, they are one of the best teams in the midwest. They tied us in the regular season in 1995 when we won the national championship. We're playing very well right now, as opposed to last year when we peaked a little too early."
Notre Dame has appeared in each of the last four NCAA championships, advancing to the final in each of the last three. The Irish claimed their first NCAA title in 1995 and lost to North Carolina in the 1994 and 1996 finals. Notre Dame lost to George Mason in the first round in its first appearance in 1993, the only loss for the Irish before the championship game.
For Notre Dame to make its fourth straight NCAA semifinal appearance, the Irish would have to beat Cincinnati and then beat two of the other six ranked opponents in their quarter of the draw, with three of those six teams ranked among the top eight teams in the country by Soccer America and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
A possible second-round opponent for the Irish would be sixth-ranked Nebraska or 18th-ranked Michigan. A possible third-round opponent could be fourth-ranked Texas A&M or eighth-ranked Portland.
Of the 20 teams ranked by Soccer America, seven were placed in Notre Dame's eight-team quarter of the draw with the other three quarters containing five, four and four ranked teams each. Of the 25 teams ranked by the NSCAA, seven are in both Notre Dame's and top-seeded North Carolina's quarters.
Notre Dame is 5-0-1 against the field with two wins over third-seeded Connecticut and win over fifth-seeded Duke, seventh-seeded Portland and Michigan. The Irish tied the Tar Heels 2-2.