Aug 16, 2013
#10 NOTRE DAME "Fighting Irish" (1-0-0 exhibition/16-6-2 in 2012) vs. #13 BAYLOR "Lady Bears" (0-0-0 exhibition/19-1-5 in 2012)
DATE: Aug. 17, 2013
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Notre Dame Practice Field - cap. 1,000)
SERIES: ND leads 1-0-0 (regular season)/Series tied 0-0-1 (exhibition)
LAST MEETING: Tie 1-1 (8/12/12 at ND)
LIVE STATS: Not available
TEXT ALERTS: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: Admission is free for exhibitions (fans should park in the Gold Lot adjacent to Frank Eck Stadium and walk down service road behind outfield wall to arrive at Notre Dame Practice Field entrance)
For more than a decade, head coach Randy Waldrum and assistant coach Dawn Greathouse have been the common threads behind Notre Dame's success, a pedigree that includes two national championships (2004 and 2010), four title match appearances and six NCAA Women's College Cup berths, not to mention a combined 13 BIG EAST Conference titles (nine regular season, four tournament) since Greathouse joined the Fighting Irish staff in 2003.
However, their partnership actually extends beyond their days at Notre Dame, beginning in 1997 on an uneven practice pitch (that doubled as the outfield of a Little League baseball park) in Waco, Texas, when Waldrum was in his second season as head coach at Baylor University, one year before taking the reins at Notre Dame, and Greathouse was a rookie goalkeeper for the Lady Bears. In Waldrum's final season of 1998, they would help BU win its first Big 12 Conference title and make the program's first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in just its third year of existence.
Now more than 15 years removed from the first time they crossed paths on the soccer pitch, Waldrum and Greathouse lead Notre Dame against that same Baylor program, as the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish and No. 13 Lady Bears square off at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday in an exhibition match at the Notre Dame Practice Field. It's the second preseason contest for the hosts, who downed Xavier, 5-1 on Wednesday afternoon, while BU is playing its lone exhibition of 2013.
As this year's teams prepare to meet, Waldrum recalls how much things have changed since his successful tenure in Waco, which saw him build the Baylor program entirely from scratch and help the Lady Bears post a 46-14-3 (.754) record in his three seasons.
"We had quite a few challenges with those early teams," he said. "At first, we didn't even have a stadium to play in, just a nice field with not much around it. There was also a small wooden press box that looked more like a deer stand. We didn't have the equipment budget of others, so we had one set of practice gear (t-shirt and shorts) and we couldn't provide the players their shoes or anything else."
Greathouse went on to earn second-team All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) during that 1998 season and was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011, becoming the first Lady Bear soccer player enshrined in the Hall. She remembers some of the ups and downs she and her teammates went through during the early years of the Baylor program's existence.
"Our game field was a little old, but the surface itself was immaculate, and part of the reason was we'd see Randy walking around it all the time pulling weeds," Greathouse said. "We used to get these really ugly gray men's polo shirts to travel in and mine was about two sizes too big, but it's all we had. We also didn't have a big meal budget, so we usually ended up eating fast food or the coaches would go to the grocery store for Lucky Charms and milk that they'd leave in the hallway for us to gather and eat. It was a big deal if we had enough to eat at Outback (Steakhouse) and usually we as players would pool our money together for a nice meal there.
"On the field, we actually made waves in the program's second year, my first, when we beat Texas A&M when they were ranked third in the country," she added. "Admittedly it was a little controversial, so it was nice to beat them again in 1998. We also beat Duke that year and a number of other ranked teams, and it was one of those turning points where we really believed we belonged as one of the top contenders in the country. When we won the first Big 12 title, it was a huge deal because it was the first for the school in any sport. You would have thought we won the national title, and in a way we did, because at first, they accidentally engraved `National Champions' on our conference championship rings. Unfortunately, they made us give those back so we could get them fixed."
After Waldrum left to take over at Notre Dame in 1999, Greathouse and her Baylor teammates continued to build their program, returning to the NCAA Championship again. A former member of the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team program, she went on to log 7,121 minutes (sixth in NCAA Division I history at the time) during her four-year career, posting a 1.20 goals-against average, .802 save percentage and 28 shutouts. She also was a three-time all-conference and Big 12 All-Academic Team selection before graduating from Baylor in 2001 with her bachelor's degree in health fitness.
Fast forward to this past season, when both Notre Dame and Baylor proved to be two of the top young teams in the nation. After facing off in the preseason (a 1-1 draw at the Notre Dame Practice Field), the Fighting Irish advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals with a 16-6-2 record, while the Lady Bears went 19-1-5, won the Big 12 Tournament title and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history before bowing out on penalties to eventual champion North Carolina.
Both teams return a great deal from last year's squads, with Notre Dame having 10 starters and 20 veterans back on the roster from its Elite Eight team, while Baylor brings back 22 players from its Sweet 16 club. Each side also has received its due in the preseason national polls, with the Fighting Irish ranked 10th and Baylor checking in at No. 13 in the first NSCAA poll (the longest-running survey among current polls, dating back to 1982 and its original incarnation conducted by the Intercollegiate Soccer Coaches Association of America or ISAA).
"I'm not sure exactly how they will play this year, but last year's Baylor team was much more direct than they were possession-oriented, which is more of the style we prefer to play," Waldrum said. "We know they are going to be very good and a very difficult opponent for us. It should be a great game for the fans featuring two teams with completely different styles of play."
LAST TIME OUT
Notre Dame got its 2013 season going in the right direction on Wednesday with its 5-1 exhibition victory over Xavier at the Notre Dame Practice Field. Sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) scored twice to lead the charge, logging the first multi-goal match for a Fighting Irish player in the preseason since 2011 and Melissa Henderson's four-goal outing against Virginia. Notre Dame also picked up a goal and an assist from junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), who scored a point in her third consecutive exhibition match dating back to last year, and two assists from junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke).
Gilbertson's 27th-minute goal helped the Fighting Irish erase an early one-goal deficit and start the hosts on their way. Bohaboy then put Notre Dame ahead for good less than five minutes later and the Fighting Irish iced the victory with three goals in a seven-minute span early in the third period (the teams played three 30-minute sessions).
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND BAYLOR MET
Bohaboy scored on a penalty kick 8:56 into the match, but Baylor's Bri Campos answered by netting the equalizer with 2:07 left as Notre Dame settled for a 1-1 exhibition draw with the Lady Bears on Aug. 12, 2012, at the Notre Dame Practice Field.
The Fighting Irish controlled play for long stretches of the first half before the flow evened out after the break, with Notre Dame outshooting Baylor, 15-10. The match also took on a physical turn, with the Lady Bears picking up 16 of the 25 fouls (and the lone yellow card) handed out during the afternoon.
Notre Dame is 12-3-3 overall (7-0-2 at home) against college opponents since Waldrum arrived in 1999, going unbeaten in its last five outings (4-0-1) following a 2010 loss to Virginia (4-1 in Maple City, Mich.) ... Notre Dame tends to have a great deal of offensive success in the preseason, averaging 2.72 goals per match in college exhibitions under Waldrum ... 19 of the 27 players on the Fighting Irish roster saw action in the Xavier match ... five of the eight who did not play coming from the Notre Dame contingent that participated in the U.S. Under-20 National Team camp Aug. 4-11 in Carson, Calif. -- some or all of those five (sophomore defender Katie Naughton, sophomore forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro, sophomore forward Crystal Thomas, freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews and freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little) are expected to play against Baylor ... for those attending Saturday's match, don't be surprised if you see Little on the pitch wearing jersey #31 -- it's only temporary as she is waiting on delivery of her regular #18, which is not a common number for a Fighting Irish goalkeeper and had to be ordered separately, so it's a bit tardy in its arrival from the manufacturer (#17 Jen Renola from 1993-96 and #13 Kelsey Lysander from 2006-09 are the only Notre Dame netminders to see significant action while wearing a jersey number in the teens).
Notre Dame then opens the 2013 regular season with a five-match homestand, starting at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Aug. 23 against Illinois at Alumni Stadium. It will be the longest regular season home stretch for the Fighting Irish since 2006, and the first match between Notre Dame and Illinois since 2011, when the Fighting Illini ended Notre Dame's season (and reign as national champion) with a 1-0 victory in the first round of the NCAA Championship in Champaign, Ill.
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 (@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.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director