Images from Notre Dame's 2010 women's soccer season that saw the Irish claim their third NCAA title.
Former Baylor All-American and veteran professional goalkeeper Dawn Siergiej (pronounced SIR-gay) enters her 12th season as an assistant coach on the Notre Dame women's soccer staff in 2014, continuing her work with the Fighting Irish goalkeepers, while also coordinating the team's recruiting, equipment and travel needs, and serving as one of the directors of the wildly-popular Notre Dame girls' soccer summer camps.
"Dawn has been a staple of the Notre Dame program the last 11 years and I am excited to work with her as we head into the 2014 season," first-year Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. "She has been a part of building two national championship teams and she knows what it takes to achieve this level of success. She holds the highest level of expectation for our players and her knowledge of the game is invaluable. She will be integral to the development of our goalkeepers and the team as a whole."
Siergiej joined the Notre Dame women's soccer staff in 2003 as an assistant coach, and in that time, she has helped Notre Dame earn two of its three NCAA national championships (2004 and 2010), as well as six NCAA Women's College Cup berths, nine conference regular season titles and four conference tournament championships during her first 11 seasons under the Golden Dome.
Siergiej also has been instrumental in molding some of the top goalkeepers in program history, with her pupils registering six of the top 10 single-season goals-against average (GAA) marks in the Notre Dame record book, including five seasons when Siergiej tutored Fighting Irish goalkeepers to a 0.49 GAA or better. In addition, Notre Dame has recorded double-digit shutouts in nine of 11 years on her watch, including a school-record 19 clean sheets in 2006 (tied for seventh-most in one season in NCAA history).
The NCAA statistical rankings also remain littered with marks set by Fighting Irish goalkeepers who sharpened their craft under Siergiej's watchful eye. In 2003, Notre Dame finished fifth in the nation with a 0.49 GAA, and was fourth with 15 shutouts, while compiling a 956-minute shutout streak that ranks fifth in NCAA history (longest since 1999). The 2004 national championship season then saw the Fighting Irish lead the nation with 18 shutouts while nearly reclaiming the GAA title (4th, 0.51). During that 25-1-1 season, the fighting Irish played from behind for a total of just 108 minutes, limiting 24 of the 27 opponents to one goal or fewer (including just one in the final 23 outings).
Siergiej has provided valuable instruction and insight for some of the greatest goalkeepers in program history including 2006 graduate Erika Bohn (who went on to be one of two goalkeepers on the U.S. U-21 National Team at the 2005 Nordic Cup) and 2008 graduate Lauren Karas. Bohn - a rare three-time Academic All-American - earned NSCAA all-region honors in 2003 and then was an all-BIG EAST Conference selection in 2005. She ranks fourth in the Notre Dame record book with a 0.69 career goals-against average (GAA) and is third in Irish women's soccer history with 6,788 career minutes played. While under the tutelage of Siergiej, Karas posted the second highest career winning-percentage among Irish goalkeepers (.902) and the third-best GAA (0.65).
Following the 2004 NCAA title-match win over UCLA, Bohn quickly credited Siergiej when asked about her clutch performances in that pressure-packed contest. Bohn's six saves that day included three in penalty-kick situations, one coming late in regulation to preserve the 1-1 tie while her final save (in the shootout) clinched the title.
Siergiej also tutored Kelsey Lysander (`10) and Nikki Weiss (`11) to a string of standout seasons from 2008-10. During the 2008 campaign, the Irish netminding duo combined for 18 shutouts (second-most in school history) with an 0.44 GAA (fourth-lowest in program annals). Individually, Lysander set or tied school records for wins (26), winning percentage (.963, 26-1-0) and total shutouts (18) while ranking sixth in the nation in GAA (0.44) and being named to the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team.
The following two seasons (2009-10), it was Weiss' turn, as she stepped in as the starter midway through `09 and wound up posting a 14-2-1 record and seven solo shutouts (part of the team's 16 clean sheets), helping spark Notre Dame's 19-match unbeaten streak during the final two months of the season. Weiss also set a new BIG EAST record with a 0.15 GAA in regular-season league play, allowing just one goal in 597 minutes.
In 2010, Weiss backstopped the Irish to their third national title, starting all 25 matches (21-2-2 record) and logging a 0.49 GAA with 10 solo shutouts and an .876 save percentage (second-best in school history).
Most recently, Siergiej has been charged with molding a young Irish goalkeeping corps that includes Kaela Little, who started all 22 matches in 2013 (the first Notre Dame netminder to start every contest as a rookie since future All-American Jen Renola in 1993) and posted a 0.89 GAA with eight shutouts (six solo/two shared). Little also played 98 percent of the team's minutes in goal (2,020:31) last season, second only to another All-American, LaKeysia Beene, who played every minute in the Irish nets during the 1997 season.
Under her maiden name of Dawn Greathouse, Siergiej - who trained with the U.S. Under-20 National Team in 1998 - played with the Washington Freedom in the first two seasons of the Women's United Soccer Association (2001 and 2002), also playing for the San Jose CyberRays in 2002 and `03. She made eight career starts in the WUSA while backing up U.S. National Team players Beene (San Jose) and Siri Mullinix (Washington). During that 2002 WUSA season in San Jose, Siergiej and Romagnolo were teammates (the latter then playing under her maiden name of Theresa Wagner).
As a collegian, Siergiej logged 7,121 minutes (sixth in NCAA history at the time) in her four-year Baylor career while posting a 1.20 GAA, an .802 save percentage and 28 shutouts. The three-time All-Big 12 Conference and three-time Big 12 All-Academic Team honoree turned in her best season as a sophomore in 1998, earning National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) second team All-America honors after ranking 12th in the nation with a 0.69 GAA. She helped the 1998 team win Baylor's first Big 12 title in any sport - before a knee injury sidelined her from Baylor's second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship.
Siergiej's remarkable college career has not gone unnoticed by her alma mater. In 2011, she was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame, becoming the first soccer player in school history to earn that prestigious honor.
An NSCAA and Parade All-American at Allen (Texas) High School, Siergiej helped the Texas Longhorns club program place second nationally and trained with the U.S. U-16 and U-17 national teams.
During her youth soccer days, Siergiej played goalkeeper for her club team but also was a skilled forward with the Allen High School squad. She set the school record for career goals and also held the single-season goals record that later was broken by former Notre Dame All-American and two-time Hermann Trophy recipient Kerri Hanks.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Siergiej graduated from Baylor in 2001 with her bachelor's degree in health fitness. She also currently holds a premier coaching diploma from the NSCAA. She and her husband, Nick (Notre Dame's director of hockey operations) were married in May 2014 and make their home in South Bend.