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    Six Notre Dame Soccer Players Earn Invitations To Under-20 Women's National Team Camps

    FIGHTING IRISH Notre Dame sophomore forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro, the lone holdover from the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team that won the U-20 World Cup title last September in Japan, is one of six Fighting Irish players who will compete with their respective U-20 national teams (five with the United States, one with Mexico) in the next two weeks.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Notre Dame sophomore forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro, the lone holdover from the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team that won the U-20 World Cup title last September in Japan, is one of six Fighting Irish players who will compete with their respective U-20 national teams (five with the United States, one with Mexico) in the next two weeks.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    July 29, 2013

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second time in as many months, Notre Dame sophomore defender Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove), sophomore forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) and sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy), along with incoming freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) and rookie goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley), have been invited to a United States Under-20 Women's National Soccer Team camp, this time scheduled for Aug. 4-12 at the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center) in Carson, Calif.

    In addition, Notre Dame incoming freshman midfielder Cindy Pineda (Bolingbrook, Ill./Plainfield East) has joined the Mexico Under-20 Women's National Team in Colombia for a nine-team tournament that got underway July 27 and will continue through Saturday. Pineda scored both goals for her national side in Sunday's 2-1 group-stage win, the second victory in two days for the Mexicans, who will play one more group match on Tuesday before advancing to the semifinals Thursday and potentially the championship on Saturday.

    As was the case when the same Fighting Irish quintet attended the U.S. U-20 camp last month in Portland, Ore., Notre Dame easily has the largest contingent among the 23 invitees at next week's American training sessions (UCLA is second with three participants). The eight-day camp, which is designed to continue the U-20 team's preparation for qualifying for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, will feature a pair of friendlies against Japan on Aug. 8 (4 p.m. PT) and Aug. 11 (noon PT) at David Vanole Field (Field No. 3) at the StubHub Center. Admission and parking for both exhibitions are free to the general public.

     

     

    Andrews, Naughton and Roccaro (pronounced row-CAH-row) have been mainstays in the U-20 camp through 2013, highlighted by their participation with the American side in March for three matches in La Manga, Spain, at the 12 Nations Tournament. The United States went 0-1-2 at the event, earning draws with Norway (1-1) and Sweden (0-0), while falling to Germany (3-0).

    Roccaro served as the American captain and started all three matches in Spain, playing the full 90 minutes each time. Andrews, who was making her international debut at the U-20 level, also started all three contests, going the distance against Norway and Sweden, while coming off midway through the second half against Germany. Naughton, who also was in her first international U-20 tournament, started and went the distance against Sweden, while coming on as a second-half substitute in the first two matches (replacing Andrews in the Germany contest).

    Naughton and Roccaro also competed with the U-20s on a two-match trip to Sweden in late May/early June, defeating the Scandinavian U-23 side twice (3-1 and 1-0). Both Fighting Irish sophomores got the start in each of the Sweden matches, with Roccaro playing every minute in both contests, while Naughton departed at halftime of the second match. Andrews would have joined her future Notre Dame teammates in Sweden, but was excused from the trip to attend to a prior family commitment.

    Thomas made her first appearance with the U-20 National Team at last month's camp, although she has prior U.S. youth national team camp experience, having taken part in the U-23 training sessions back in May at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

    Little, who is one of only three goalkeepers slated to attend next week's U-20 camp, has earned her third invitation of the year, coupled with last month's stint in Portland and a prior training session with the U-20 program back in February at the then-named Home Depot Center. Little originally caught the eye of U.S. U-20 head coach Michelle French and her staff through her performance at the inaugural U.S. Soccer Women's National Team youth Goalkeeper Identification Camp (Dec. 7-10, 2012) in Chula Vista, Calif.

    Roccaro is the lone holdover for the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup last September in Japan. The Long Island native, who has 20 caps and 16 starting nods during her U-20 career (the most of any current player in the U-20 pool), teamed up with Notre Dame senior midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) to play key roles in the Americans' run to their third U-20 World Cup title. Roccaro appeared in five of the United States' six matches, starting four times, and helping the U.S. to a 4-1-1 record that included three shutouts, most notably over Nigeria (2-0) and Germany (1-0) in the semifinals and championship match. The Stars & Stripes also had to battle through a 2-1 extra-time victory over North Korea in the quarterfinals.

    While still a relative newcomer at the U-20 level, Naughton has extensive experience with other U.S. youth national teams since 2009, most notably teaming with Roccaro to help the 2010 U.S. U-17 National Team to the U-16 Nordic Cup title in Denmark, outscoring its four opponents by a combined 13-1 margin.

    Andrews is no stranger to the U.S. Soccer kits, having emerged as one of the rising stars in the American youth system since her debut in 2008 with the U-14 Girls' National Team. Prior to the start of this calendar year when she moved into the U-20 system, Andrews was a major contributor for the U.S. U-17 Women's National Team, earning 20 caps and starting 15 times while logging two goals and two assists. Her biggest role came as U.S. captain for the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship in Guatemala and FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan, with the Americans winning the CONCACAF title in dominating fashion (26-0 aggregate) and finishing in a three-way tie for first in their group at the World Cup (only to be eliminated on goal differential).

    Naughton, Roccaro and Thomas were three of the important young contributors last season for Notre Dame, which posted a 16-6-2 record, earned a share of the BIG EAST Conference National Division title (8-1-1 record), and advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the 15th time in program history.

    Naughton was a third-team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST All-Rookie Team selection in 2012 as a cornerstone of Notre Dame's defense at center back. She started all 23 matches she played in, helping the Fighting Irish hold their opponents to 18 goals all season (a 0.73 goals-against average) while recording 10 shutouts. On the offensive end, Naughton scored three goals and added one assist, most notably scoring what proved to be the match-winning goal in the first half of a 5-1 win over Seton Hall on Oct. 5 at Alumni Stadium. She also netted the tying goal in the 44th minute of Notre Dame's 3-1 victory over Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Nov. 9, also at Alumni Stadium.

    The versatile Roccaro was named the 2012 Soccer America Freshman of the Year and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) third-team All-American despite missing Notre Dame's first seven matches while competing in the U-20 World Cup. She started all 16 matches she played in and ranking third on the team in goals (6), points (13), total shots (41) and shots on goal (21) while earning three conference honors -- BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, All-BIG EAST First Team and All-BIG EAST Rookie Team.

    Upon her return from Japan, Roccaro immediately stepped in the starting lineup, beginning with Notre Dame's 2-1 win over Louisville on Sept. 14, and helped the Fighting Irish go unbeaten in 14 of their final 17 matches while playing all three field positions (forward, midfielder and defender) at various times.

    Roccaro also played a pivotal role in her team's postseason success, scoring the match-winning goal for the Fighting Irish in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals against Syracuse (a 1-0 victory on Oct. 28 at Alumni Stadium) and netting the tying goal early in the second half of Notre Dame's 2-1 comeback win over No. 10/12 Wake Forest in an NCAA Championship second-round match on Nov. 16 in Gainesville, Fla.

    Thomas became the first Fighting Irish player since 2008 to register double-digit goals, finishing with a team-high 10 goal and two assists while pacing Notre Dame with 25 shots on goal. The talented striker earned second-team all-BIG EAST honors and was a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team after tying for third in the conference in goals and sharing seventh in the loop in points (22). Thomas also was responsible for one of the signature moments in the 2012 Fighting Irish season, scoring the winning goal in the Nov. 16 Wake Forest match with 19:35 remaining.

    Andrews is the nation's No. 1-ranked player in the Class of 2013, having recently been named the 2013 recipient of the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, just the second incoming Notre Dame student-athlete to be so honored (after women's basketball standout Skylar Diggins in 2009). Andrews also twice earned Gatorade National High School Girls' Soccer Player of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013, becoming the first soccer player of either gender and ninth student-athlete in any sport to be a two-time recipient of the honor.

    Andrews just returned home from Elk Grove, Calif., after helping the New England Mutiny reach the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) semifinals (she scored the match-winning goal in overtime and assisted on the tying goal in second-half stoppage time of the 3-2 win over ASA Chesapeake Charge in the WPSL Eastern Conference final). She is a three-time Gatorade New Hampshire High School Player of the Year and three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Youth All-America Team selection, having piled up 114 goals and 53 assists (both school and conference records) during her four-year career at Milford High School.

    A two-time NSCAA Oklahoma High School Player of the Year, Little also earned 2012 Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year honors and was a two-time NSCAA High School All-America selection, as well as a two-time Tulsa World All-Metro Player of the Year choice. She recently completed her prep career at Bishop Kelley by leading her team to a 17-0-1 record and its second consecutive Class 6A state championship, logging 11 shutouts along the way.

    Pineda, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico, moved up to join the Mexico U-20 Women's National Team roster during the 2013 cycle after suiting up for that nation at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan (the same competition Andrews and the United States competed in, although the Americans and Mexicans did not play). Pineda started all three matches for Mexico at the U-17 Women's World Cup, earning the assist on her team's lone goal in the competition (coming in a 1-0 group-stage win over New Zealand).

    Pineda also played for Mexico at last year's CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Guatemala (won by the United States). She appeared in five matches (starting four) at the tournament, and scored a goal against the Bahamas during the group stage, as Mexico finished third and qualified for the U-17 Women's World Cup.

    Back home, Pineda graduated earlier this year from Plainfield East High School in Plainfield, Ill., where she helped her high school team to a regional title in 2011-12 and had her best season as a sophomore in 2010-11 (21 goals, 11 assists). In addition, she played club soccer for Sockers FC Chicago (the same program that produced Naughton and Thomas), and previously with the Chicago Fire Juniors club. Her brother, Victor, has been a regular with the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team, and currently plays for the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer (MLS).

    Naughton, Roccaro and Thomas are among 10 starters and 21 veterans returning for the Fighting Irish this fall. Collectively, this returning group accounted for all 46 goals and 126 of a possible 127 points scored by Notre Dame during the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Andrews, Little and Pineda lead a stellar incoming freshman class that was ranked third in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.

    Following its annual "Meet The Teams" free barbecue and fan appreciation event with the Fighting Irish men's soccer team on Aug. 11 (4-6 p.m. ET at South Bend's Kroc Center), Notre Dame will kick off the 2013 season with exhibition matches against Xavier (Aug. 14, 1 p.m. ET) and Baylor (Aug. 17, 1 p.m. ET) at the Notre Dame Practice Field (east of Eck Baseball Stadium), with admission free to the general public (parking also is free in the Eck Stadium lot, with fans asked to enter the soccer practice field via the service road behind the left-field wall). The Fighting Irish open the regular season at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Aug. 23, playing host to Illinois at Alumni Stadium.

    Ticket packages for the 2013 Notre Dame women's soccer season may be purchased through the University's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets. Groups wishing to attend Fighting Irish soccer matches also can receive a discounted ticket rate -- contact Rita Baxter in the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office to learn more.

    For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccer or @NDsoccernews), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.

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