Nov. 25, 1997
Captains Help Put Irish Women's Soccer on Top
A national title, two-time run-ner-up to the national championships, four NCAA tournament appearances, three BIG EAST Championships, one Midwest Collegiate Conference championship and a 90-5-4 record. When a freshman soccer player begins her first season of play she never imagines that by the time she is about to close out her career these numbers would reflect her accomplishments. For Notre Dame women's soccer captains Holly Manthei and Kate Sobrero neither did they.
"I knew we would be good throughout my stay here, but I never thought we would achieve the status we have now," says Sobrero.
While at Detroit Country School, Sobrero excelled throughout her career. She earned United States Youth Soccer Association All-America laurels, three-time all-area choice, as well as three-time all-state choice. As the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native began to be recruited, she was quickly offered a scholarship by Notre Dame, a team that had just reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in the six years of the programs existence.
"I decided to attend Notre Dame because it offered me the chance to get a great education as well as a place to develop my Catholic background," says Sobrero. "Notre Dame was a place that I could see myself fit in."
Notre Dame was a great place for her to thrive. As a freshman, Sobrero stepped right into head coach Chris Petrucelli's starting lineup as a defender. She quickly became known as one of the best marking backs in the country. In the 1994 national semifinals, she found the back of the net with a header from fellow freshman Holly Manthei's corner in the 1-0 victory over Portland. Sobrero was rewarded for her play by being named All-America by Soccer News, and all-freshman by Soccer America.
Her sophomore year was no different. Sobrero continued to shut down the nation's top forwards, helping the Irish defense record 18 shutouts during the season including all five opponents on their run to the national championship. Sobrero once again was rewarded for her good play by being named defensive player of the tournament and All-American for the second straight year.
Last year she anchored a defense that allowed only 0.20 goals a game in BIG EAST competition. She earned defensive MVP in two different tournaments during the season and was selected an All-American for the third straight year.
This season has been nothing different for the three-year starter. Sobrero anchored the United States under-20 team's defense to the gold medal this past summer. Her cat-like reactions on defense garnered her with the BIG EAST defensive player of the year. Her teammates also recognized her leadership skills and choose her to be captain with Manthei and fellow senior Julie Maund.
"Kate leads on the field as well as off the field," says Irish freshman Meotis Erickson. "When I was battling during my slump at the beginning of the year, Kate came over and talked to me and helped me through that rough time."
While Sobrero controls the backfield, her partner Manthei controls the midfield. Manthei like Sobrero earned All-America honors as well as three-time all-state selection in high school. Manthei joined the Irish team in the fall of 1994 and quickly made an impact starting in all 25 games that season. She aided on 30 percent of the 100 goals scored by the Irish that year and helped her receive All-American honors.
She was instrumental in the NCAA championship game. Her placement of a cornerkick allowed Sobrero to head it past Portland's goalie for a 1-0 victory and a spot in the national championship game.
Known to most soccer aficionados as the best ball-handling midfielder in the collegiate ranks, Manthei recorded 44 assists, the most by anyone in college woman's soccer history. During last year's run in the NCAA tournament, she totaled five assists giving her 10 assists for her career. Once again she was rewarded for her outstanding play by being named to the All-American team for the third straight year.
This year has been no different for Manthei. She once again leads the team in assists, as she has done for four years..
As these two continue their final journey, hosting UCLA in the third round. A national championship, the greatest class record in the history of Notre Dame, and four-time All-American honors are just a few of their many accomplishments. But for Sobrero and Manthei these may not be the things they remember most.
"When I look back an my career I will remember the incredible friends I have made here and all the good times we had," stated Sobrero. "Championships may come and go, but friendships will always remain."
For four years, these two have been the ones to watch at their positions, and the players that fill those spots next year will have big shoes to fill both on and off the field.