NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The regular season may be more than a full week away from beginning, but soccer is already in the air on the University of Notre Dame campus. The Fighting Irish women's soccer team's 4-0 win over Illinois State on Monday at Alumni Stadium highlighted what was the first organized fall match for this year's Notre Dame squad.
Despite not counting as an official game in the record column for the Fighting Irish, Monday's victory was the inaugural fall game on campus for head coach Theresa Romagnolo, giving the first-year Notre Dame mentor a chance to assess her roster in a live match setting.
A total of 19 Notre Dame players earned significant minutes in Monday's match, including eight freshmen that took the field in a Fighting Irish uniform for the first time. Notre Dame controlled the offensive tempo of the contest throughout, outshooting Illinois State 26-6 on its way to a solid initial showing.
"The nice thing about a scrimmage is that you go into it with the idea that you are going to try different things and give different looks," Romagnolo said following the exhibition victory. "I'm more focused on getting to know the team rather than the result. (But) we talk about creating good habits, and one good habit is winning, so we definitely want to come out and win these games. For me, my motivation is to really get to know my team heading into Illinois (on Aug. 22)."
The team enjoyed its first "off day" from fall training on Tuesday, taking a group retreat away from campus at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford to break the monotony of the practice schedule. Stepping away from soccer for a day to engage in team building exercises, Romagnolo said, was something she and her coaching staff felt was a perfect way to provide a change of pace during the preseason.
"It's good to mix it up and get them off campus, have them hanging out and becoming more comfortable with each other," Romagnolo said. "The more comfortable the team is off the field, the better they are going to play together on the field."
The Fighting Irish will resume training at the ND Practice Field on Wednesday night in preparation for Saturday's exhibition finale at 5 p.m. (CT) against Northwestern at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill.
SPREADING THE WEALTH IN THE GOAL COLUMN
Four different players tallied goals during Monday's exhibition win over Illinois State, with junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis), senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and junior forward Mary Schwappach (Denver, Colo./Mullen) finding the back of the net for Notre Dame.
Only twice during the entire 2013 season (22 matches) did the Fighting Irish have four different players score a goal during the course of a single match.
NICHOLAS STANDS TALL IN GOAL DURING PRESEASON OPENER
Freshman goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley) earned the start in net against Illinois State, posting a shutout in her unofficial Notre Dame debut. Illinois State did not record its first shot on goal until the 62nd minute, when Nicholas corralled a Redbird header that was momentarily loose in the box.
Nicholas logged a total of two saves during the full 90 minutes to secure the clean sheet in the first Fighting Irish exhibition tilt of 2014.
U.S. U-20 WNT MARCHES TO THE QUARTERFINALS AT THE U-20 WWC
The United States Under-20 Women's National Team advanced out of the group stage of the 2014 FIFA Women's World Cup on Tuesday, defeating China 3-0 in its final match of Group B play in Moncton, Canada. Notre Dame junior tri-captains Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) and Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) started all three games on defense for the U.S., helping lead the team's back line in consecutive clean sheet victories over Brazil (1-0) last Friday and China on Tuesday.
Roccaro served as the team captain in all three U.S. matches during group play, wearing the captain's armband in the stage's opening match against Germany (Aug. 5) as well as both U.S. wins. Roccaro and Naughton have each played the full 270 minutes thus far in the tournament.
The U.S. U-20 WNT is scheduled to face Korea in its first match of the second stage on Saturday at 5 p.m. (ET) at the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto, Canada.
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2014 Notre Dame women's soccer season, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on match days.
For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDSoccer), 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.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant