April 13, 2001
The Notre Dame men's and women's soccer teams will play a pair of exhibition games on Saturday night, April 14, at South Bend's School Field, as the Irish women will face the Mexican Women's National Team at approximately 7:00 p.m., following the 5:00 p.m. game between the Notre Dame and Bethel College men's teams.
Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for children, with Notre Dame and Bethel students admitted free of charge (with student ID). There will be just one ticket for both games while a free youth clinic also will be hosted by the Notre Dame and Mexico women's teams, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning at School Field (which is located adjacent to Jefferson High School, on the east side of Eddy Street between Mishawaka and Jefferson streets).
Notre Dame senior Monica Gonzalez-a founding member of the Mexican national team-is expected to play with her Irish teammates on Saturday after spending the 2001 spring semester studying at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. Gonzalez-who is expected to return to Notre Dame next fall to complete her fifth year of eligibility-was a starter at marking back for the Irish during most of the 2000 season. She has played mostly midfield during her career with the Mexican national team but was used as a sweeper in the team's 2-2 tie at Fresno State on April 8.
"Anytime you have a chance to play international competition, it presents a challenge for your team that is on a whole different level," said Irish women's head coach Randy Waldrum, whose 2000 squad played six preseason games in Brazil versus local professional teams.
"We will be a little bit shorthanded due to injuries and not having most of our seniors, but it still will be an important developmental experience for the team. In particular, we will want to start developing better understanding on the attacking side of the ball and Mexico will give us a great challenge in that regard. They played the U.S. national team tough last December, losing 3-2 after jumping ahead 2-0, and we will expect a tough and physical game from them on Saturday night."
Mexico's top players in their 4-4-2 formation are the dangerous forward duo of Iris Mora and Maribel Dominguez, who scored both of her team's goals in the tie at Fresno State.
The Notre Dame women return many of the key members from their 2000 team that posted a 23-1-1 overall record and held the nation's No. 1 ranking for most of the season, before losing in the NCAA semifinals.
Top Irish players who are expected to play in the Mexico game include junior defender and South Bend native Lindsey Jones, junior goalkeeper Liz Wagner, sophomore defender Vanessa Pruzinsky, junior midfielder Mia Sarkesian and freshman forward Amanda Guertin.
Freshman forward Amy Warner will not play in the Mexico game (she still is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery) while sophomore forward Ali Lovelace likely won't play due to a foot injury. Notre Dame fans may get their first look at forward Melissa Tancredi-who missed all of her freshman season in 2000 due to an ACL knee injury.
Irish freshman Randi Scheller is expected to step into the starting midfield spot vacated by national player of the year Anne Makinen. Scheller will be joined in Notre Dame's unique formation of three central-based midfielders by Sarkesian and sophomore Ashley Dryer, who is returning from a knee injury that held her out of the NCAA semifinal game. Senior defender Kerri Bakker also is expected to play for the Irish in the exhibition.
The Notre Dame men likewise return the bulk of their roster for head coach Bobby Clark, the former Stanford coach who will be embarking on his first full season with the Irish next fall. Bethel has developed into one of the nation's top teams on the NAIA level, with a large part of the team's roster including natives of Mexico.
MEXICO TEAM NOTES: The Mexican Women's National Team was founded in 1997-98 and has included several United States residents and U.S. college players who have Mexican citizenship ... those players include Gonzalez (a native of Richardson, Texas) and two other current members of the team: starting goalkeeper Linnea Quinones (San Diego State) and marking back Martha Moore (Texas A&M) ... two other former Mexican national team members-former Notre Dame forward Monica Gerardo (Washington Freedom) and former Santa Clara defender Lisa Nanez (Bay Area CyberRays)-currently are preparing for the upcoming debut season of the Women's United Soccer Association (as are three senior members of ND's 2000 squad: Makinen, Kelly Lindsey and Meotis Erikson) ... the Mexico women are coached by Leo Nardo Cuellar, a member of Mexico's men's soccer team that competed in the 1972 Olympics in Munich (he also played for Mexico in several World Cups and played for the popular Pumas professional team, based in Mexico City) ... Gonzalez played with Mexico during the 1999 World Cup, in matches vs. Brazil, Germany and Italy ... Mexico will complete its tour of the U.S. with games versus the University of Illinois (April 16 in Chicago), at Baylor (April 18), at SMU (April 20) and vs. Texas A&M (April 21, at SMU) ... other games on the horizon for Mexico include two games vs. Canada in Mexico (in May), a tentative series of games vs. the Bay Area CyberRays in May, two games in Mexico vs. the U.S. under-21 team and a tour of Scandinavia.
NOTRE DAME SPRING SCHEDULES: The Irish women have two other games on their spring schedule, both at the Notre Dame Eck Practice Field: April 21 vs. the Carmel Cosmos (2:00 p.m.) and April 25 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (4:00 p.m.) ... the Irish men have spring games remaining vs. Indiana and Akron (both on April 21 in Columbus, Ohio), vs. the Indiana Invaders (April 24 at ND's Eck Practice Field, 5:30 p.m.) and at the University of Cincinnati (April 28).