April 2, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame women's soccer team will play seven regular-season matches against NCAA Championship qualifiers, including a first-ever trip to perennial powerhouse UCLA, as part of a rugged 2010 schedule that was released Friday following approval by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics.
As usual, one of the cornerstones of this year's Fighting Irish docket will be the Inn at Saint Mary's Soccer Classic, highlighted by a 7:30 p.m. (ET) battle on Sept. 3 under the lights at Alumni Stadium against Santa Clara, which defeated Notre Dame, 2-0 in SCU's tournament last season on the way to an appearance in the third round of the NCAA Championship. Mississippi (which also earned a berth in last year's NCAA tourney) and Big 12 Conference member Texas Tech will comprise the other two teams in this year's Inn at Saint Mary's Classic field -- those two clubs will meet at 5 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 3 at Alumni Stadium, before the matchups will switch on Sept. 5 for the second day of the tournament (Mississippi vs. Santa Clara at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Notre Dame and Texas Tech at 1:30 p.m. ET).
The following weekend, the Fighting Irish will head to Los Angeles for a two-match swing through southern California. On Sept. 10, Notre Dame will make its first visit to UCLA's Drake Stadium, as the Fighting Irish and Bruins meet in a 7 p.m. (PT) match. Although Notre Dame and UCLA both have been regular participants at the NCAA Women's College Cup in recent years, including each of the past four seasons and five of the last six years, the two sides have not met on the pitch since the 2004 NCAA national championship match, which the Fighting Irish won on penalty kicks, 4-3, after a 1-1 overtime draw in Cary, N.C.
Two days later, Notre Dame will travel to Loyola Marymount for a noon (PT) contest with the host Lions at Sullivan Field. The Fighting Irish last played LMU in 2008, earning a 4-0 victory in South Bend.
Other 2010 schedule highlights for Notre Dame include non-conference home contests with Big Ten Conference members Minnesota (Aug. 20) and defending Horizon League champion/NCAA Championship qualifier Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Aug. 22). Once they dive into BIG EAST Conference play, the Fighting Irish will play host to five matches at Alumni Stadium in a six-match span from late September through early October, with the marquee contests being an Oct. 3 BIG EAST Championship semifinal rematch with St. John's (Notre Dame won last year's tourney match, 2-1 in overtime at Storrs, Conn.) and an Oct. 10 Senior Day match with Rutgers, which reached the second round of last year's NCAA Championship.
The Fighting Irish will close the regular season with a four-match road swing that includes stops at NCAA Championship participants Connecticut (Oct. 15) and Villanova (Oct. 22), as well as perennial BIG EAST challenger Georgetown (Oct. 24).
This season, Rutgers will be the host site for the BIG EAST Championship semifinals and title match on Nov. 5 & 7 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. The NCAA Championship kicks off Nov. 12 at campus sites around the country, while the month-long tournament culminates Dec. 3 & 5 with the NCAA Women's College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
It's also expected that a handful of Notre Dame's matches next season will be televised, although those coverage plans have not yet been finalized. The complete Fighting Irish broadcast schedule for the 2010 campaign will be announced at a later date.
"We are definitely going to be challenged by this schedule," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "There are a variety of different teams from some of the strongest conferences in the nation, so we'll see several different types of play and strategies that should benefit us as the season goes on. Our trip to UCLA will be particularly challenging and give us a good early indication of the progress we've made during the off-season. We also have a very strong home schedule this season and playing in one of the nation's best college soccer facilities, we're looking forward to having the Notre Dame and South Bend soccer communities join us for another great year."
Notre Dame will return 19 players, including nine starters from its 2009 squad that compiled a 21-4-1 record (10-0-1 in the BIG EAST National Division), winning its 11th conference title and advancing to the NCAA Women's College Cup for the 11th time in program history. The Fighting Irish also bring back more than 85 percent of their offensive production from that club, led by two-time all-BIG EAST and 2009 first-team all-Northeast Region junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner), as well as fellow '09 first-team all-region selections, junior midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) and versatile senior forward Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy), and a pair of returning second-team all-Northeast choices, senior midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and junior defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West).
Notre Dame kicks off the 2010 season at 1 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 13 with an exhibition match against Virginia (an `09 NCAA Championship third-round participant) in Traverse City, Mich., before starting things up for real at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 20 against Minnesota at Alumni Stadium. It will be the first matchup between the Fighting Irish and Golden Gophers since Notre Dame earned a memorable 1-0 overtime victory in the third round of the 2008 NCAA Championship at old Alumni Field.
Tickets for the 2010 Notre Dame women's soccer season will soon go on sale at Notre Dame's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, which can be reached by phone (574-631-7356), in person through the ticket windows in the new Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (located inside Gate 9) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets).