July 7, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame women's soccer team will play five regular-season matches against NCAA Tournament qualifiers, including matchups with two of the other participants in last year's NCAA Women's College Cup, as part of a rugged 2009 schedule that was released Tuesday following approval by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics.
As usual, the cornerstones of this year's Fighting Irish docket will be a pair of non-conference tournaments in the season's first three weeks -- Notre Dame's own Inn at Saint Mary's Soccer Classic, highlighted by a Sept. 4 battle under the lights at the brand-new state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium against North Carolina in a rematch of the 2008 NCAA Women's College Cup final (won by the Tar Heels, 2-1, on a goal with a little more than two minutes to play). Fellow BIG EAST Conference member Marquette and defending Horizon League champion Milwaukee will comprise the other two teams in this year's Inn at Saint Mary's Classic field -- those two clubs will meet Sept. 4 in Milwaukee before venturing to South Bend on Sept. 6 for the second day of the tournament (North Carolina vs. Marquette at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Notre Dame and Milwaukee at 1:30 p.m. ET).
The following weekend, the Fighting Irish will head to the West Coast for their biannual participation in the Santa Clara adidas Classic. Notre Dame will tangle with the host Broncos on Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. PT at Buck Shaw Stadium (also home to FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer and the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer), before returning to the pitch Sept. 13 for an 11 a.m. PT match against Stanford in a replay of last year's classic College Cup semifinal won by the Fighting Irish, 1-0, on a 15th-minute goal by midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) and a career-high seven saves from goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo).
Other 2009 schedule highlights for Notre Dame include non-conference home contests with Big Ten Conference members Wisconsin (Aug. 21) and Northwestern (Sept. 20), as well as rising Horizon League power Loyola-Chicago (Aug. 28). Once they dive into BIG EAST play, the Fighting Irish will play host to conference tournament runner-up Connecticut (Oct. 16) to kick off a four-match homestand that closes out the regular season. Notre Dame also is slated to travel to defending BIG EAST American Division champion West Virginia (Oct. 2), which advanced to the second round of last year's NCAA Championship, and Rutgers (Oct. 9), which surged to the round-of-16 in the '08 NCAA tourney.
This season, Connecticut will be the host site for the BIG EAST Championship semifinals and title match on Nov. 6 & 8 at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. The NCAA Championship kicks off Nov. 13 at campus sites around the country, with the month-long tournament culminating Dec. 4 & 6 with the NCAA Women's College Cup at Aggie Soccer Stadium in College Station, Texas.
It's expected that a handful of Notre Dame's matches this season will be televised, although those coverage plans have not yet been finalized. The complete Fighting Irish broadcast schedule for the 2009 campaign will be announced at a later date.
"I'm very pleased with the schedule we've set up for the upcoming season," 11th-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We've got a great blend of national and regional rivals in our non-conference season, and the BIG EAST just continues to get stronger every year, so we're going to have a challenge on our hands each time we take the field.
"The North Carolina match should be particularly special, not only because it's a rematch from last year's national championship match, but also because we're going to have the chance to showcase our new stadium against a quality opponent the night before our football team kicks off its 2009 season (vs. Nevada). Of course, with 11 home games this season, our wonderfully loyal and supportive fans will be able to catch some tremendous college soccer action night-in and night-out. All of us in the Notre Dame women's soccer program are anxious to get on the field and get started training for another great season."
Notre Dame retains 23 players (19 monogram winners) and seven starters from its 2008 squad that compiled a school-record 26-1-0 mark (11-0-0 in the BIG EAST National Division), winning its 10th conference title and advancing to the NCAA Women's College Cup for the 10th time in program history (making the title match for the seventh time and third in five seasons). The Fighting Irish also bring back more than 60 percent of their offensive production from that club, led by the reigning BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and an '08 first-team freshman All-American in forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner), as well as '08 first-team all-Great Lakes Region selection, senior midfielder Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown).
Notre Dame kicks off the 2009 season Aug. 11 with a 7 p.m. (ET) exhibition match against the Ireland National Team at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis. The Irish then will take on Virginia (an `08 NCAA Tournament third-round participant) in a second exhibition contest on Aug. 14 in Traverse City, Mich. (1 p.m. ET kickoff), before starting things up for real on Aug. 21 with a 7:30 p.m. ET match at home against Wisconsin.
Tickets for the 2009 Notre Dame women's soccer season now are on sale by contacting the Fighting Irish Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), stopping by the Gate 1 ticket windows on the second floor of the Joyce Center 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).