Aug. 15, 2014#16 Irish Travel To Northwestern Saturday For Exhibition Finale
2014 ND Women's Soccer -- Exhibition 2
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A characteristic that emerged almost instantly from the early sessions of fall training for the University of Notre Dame women's soccer team was the collective intensity exhibited by Fighting Irish players on the practice field. Now two weeks into fall camp in preparation for the 2014 season, No. 16 Notre Dame will compete in its second and final exhibition match of the preseason on Saturday at 5 p.m. (CT) against Northwestern at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill.
"Throughout the course of a preseason people start dealing with injuries, so you might see a bit of a different lineup out there (on Saturday)," Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. "That's the point of a scrimmage, we are trying to give people a bunch of different looks. We also want to make sure we are healthy going into Illinois (Aug. 22) and the rest of our season. The energy has been great, and they have been working really hard, I've been very proud of the effort. We just want to keep that going."
Traveling away from the Notre Dame campus during the exhibition slate, especially for true road contests, has been a rarity for the Fighting Irish in recent seasons. In fact, Saturday's match at Northwestern will be the first preseason meeting at an opponent's home stadium since Notre Dame claimed an 8-1 victory at Butler on Aug. 14, 2005.
"It's really important, because we are going to be playing on the road over the course of the season," Romagnolo said. "We want to make sure we play just as well away from home as we do at home. It's all about becoming comfortable in a different environment, especially with Northwestern being the first time we will be on turf this season. Being in a totally different environment with unique field conditions are things we are going to face all season."
Unlike its first-time opponent in last Monday's exhibition opener Illinois State, Notre Dame and Northwestern have a relative level of familiarity with one another. The Fighting Irish are 5-0 all-time against the Wildcats during in-season competition, including a 4-1 win last season at Alumni Stadium that was sparked by two goals from now senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita).
For Notre Dame, previous knowledge of an opponent's playing style is one of many factors that go into game preparation.
"For the most part, we usually are more concerned about our plan against an opponent," Romagnolo said. "We might talk about certain things an opponent does but at the end of the day, if we do what we need to do we are going put ourselves in a good position against anybody. For me, it's about what we are going to do."
Among the highlights of the 4-0 exhibition win over Illinois State was the offensive pressure put forth by the Notre Dame attack, as evidenced by its 26-6 shot advantage over the Redbirds. While proud of the team's ability to stretch the field during the contest, Romagnolo has tried to impart different scenarios for possessions based on what the game situation might dictate.
"I am trying to get them to recognize what's on, so there's times we want to go to goal in transition and other times we want to possess a little bit and build up the field," Romagnolo said. "Over the course of any game you will have to do both, so I am trying to get them to recognize and play what's on."
Saturday's game at Northwestern might be the final real time opportunity for Notre Dame players to cement positions in the team's lineup, but that evaluation process will continue for the duration of fall camp. Still, practical on-field experience and execution, Romagnolo said, will be beneficial to all in uniform at Lakeside Field.
"We are constantly re-evaluating lineups and players, so I look at Northwestern as another opportunity for those who step on the field to make a case for themselves," she said. "That also happens every day in training, too. The great thing about a game is you get to see who is going to show up in that competitive environment."
Notre Dame held a 26-6 shot advantage over Illinois State for the contest, including a 15-2 edge in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also managed six corner kicks to the two of the visiting Redbirds. Junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis), senior forward Lauren Bohaboy, sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and junior forward Mary Schwappach (Denver, Colo./Mullen) all tallied goals in the Notre Dame victory.
Freshman goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas made two saves in net to earn the shutout for the Fighting Irish.
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.