Another spring has transitioned to summer, and soon summer will officially make the inevitable turn to fall. As the seasons change, one is able to evaluate where he or she has come from, and where the path may ultimately lead.
It may still be summer on the University of Notre Dame campus, but the focus is firmly pointed toward the autumn months for the women’s soccer program. Just as the leaves and conditions change as seasons pass, so too have the Fighting Irish entering the 2014 season.
New Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo brings a successful coaching pedigree to the program after spending the last three seasons molding Dartmouth College into a consistent contender in the Ivy League. The 2012 Big Green posted a 13-4 record, the most wins for the program in a single season in over 10 years, and nearly qualified for the NCAA Championship for the first time since the 2005 under Romagnolo’s tutelage.
Prior to her arrival in New Hampshire, Romagnolo helped lay the foundation for the first national championship team in the history of the Stanford University women’s soccer program. In Romagnolo’s three seasons on Paul Ratcliffe’s staff in Palo Alto, the Cardinal compiled a 70-4-3 record from 2008-10, including NCAA College Cup berths in both 2009 and 2010. That string of success set the stage for Stanford’s first NCAA Championship victory following a 25-0-1 season in 2011, Romagnolo’s first as the head coach at Dartmouth.
After beginning her collegiate coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Stanford in 2002, Romagnolo made her mark in the profession during a five-year tenure as the top assistant at the University of San Diego from 2003-07. The Toreros reached the NCAA Championship three times during that span, highlighted by a 15-3-3 finish and a No. 9 final national ranking at the end of the 2007 campaign.
For Romagnolo, success has followed along every rung of the coaching ladder during her decade-long journey to Notre Dame. Reaching the hallowed grounds of both university and soccer program, a program that has been one of the most consistent in the history of the NCAA, is the latest professional challenge for the Fighting Irish mentor.
Notre Dame welcomes back a total of 22 players, including 18 monogram winners, from the 2013 roster that finished its first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season with a 13-8-1 (7-5-1 ACC) record, reaching the NCAA Championship for the 21st consecutive year. In fact, the Fighting Irish women’s soccer and softball programs (both entering their 27th year of varsity competition, respectively) are the only two active Notre Dame athletic teams to have never logged a losing season in program history.
Of the 22 veterans expected to return in 2014 are seven regular starters from last season’s lineup, while a total of 15 current Notre Dame players have started at least one career match. A total of 36 of the 45 team goals scored in 2013 were by current Fighting Irish players, as were 100 of the team’s 133 points. Back as well is every minute in goal for Notre Dame from one year ago, and all but 37 minutes in total since the start of 2012.
Added to the fray for the Fighting Irish is an 11-member freshman class of 2018 that was ranked as the third-best incoming class nationally by Top Drawer Soccer. The additions at all positions with players hungry to compete has raised the level of depth across the field in meshing with the Notre Dame returning cast.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the Notre Dame women’s soccer team, including key returners and newcomers, looking to make a mark on the 2014 roster.
NOTRE DAME FORWARDS
An essential key to the game of soccer is being able to push the tempo in the offensive zone of an opponent, especially with goals so often coming at a premium. A great front line leads to more chances, more chances lead to more goals and, inevitably, more goals yield more victories.
Seven players from last season’s Notre Dame team that saw considerable time in the attacking third are back in 2014 looking to make an impact for the Fighting Irish offense. Of Notre Dame’s 45 team goals that were scored during 2013, primary forwards scored 22 of those goals.
Senior Lauren Bohaboy remains the most experienced fixture on the Notre Dame front line, bringing 67 match appearances (53 starts) into her final season with the Fighting Irish. Bohaboy is the active Notre Dame career leader in goals (20), points (51), shot attempts (158) and shots on goal (66), while ranking second on the current roster with 11 assists.
Bohaboy’s ability to create has not only generated quality chances during her first three seasons with the Fighting Irish, it has also led directly to wins. Of her 20 career goals in a Fighting Irish uniform, the Mission Viejo, Calif. native has recorded eight match-winning tallies, including seven in the past two seasons alone.
Emerging from the pack in each of the last two seasons has been rising junior Anna Maria Gilbertson, currently third on the active Notre Dame list with nine career goals in 43 matches. A strong and skilled striker from any distance on net, Gilbertson has already scored a number of highlight reel goals from all over the attacking zone, proving to be a threat from virtually anywhere.
As she begins her third year at forward for the Fighting Irish, Gilbertson will look to expand her role in the team’s offensive game plan. Having already showcased a keen ability to score, Notre Dame will rely on the Davis, Calif. native’s powerful finishing acumen up front.
Senior Karin Simonian returns for her final season at Notre Dame fresh off the most successful year of her collegiate career, scoring four goals and adding three assists for a personal-best single-season point total of 11 in 19 games played (12 starts). The biggest goal of 2013 for the Fighting Irish forward was her match-winning tally in the 27th minute at North Carolina State on Sept. 12, securing Simonian’s first career game-winning goal and Notre Dame’s first ACC victory.
Now established as one of the veteran leaders among the Notre Dame forward group, Simonian brings a steady influence at the top and as an attacking midfielder. The Westbury, N.Y. native possesses strong dribbling skills in tight spaces, and like Gilbertson and Bohaboy, can finish from distance if the situation dictates.
A breakout performer as a true freshman in 2013, Kaleigh Olmsted looks to have an encore in her sophomore season for Notre Dame. It took Olmsted less than one game to make an impact during her rookie campaign one year ago, scoring a goal and adding an assist in her collegiate debut against No. 25 Illinois last August at Alumni Stadium.
Olmsted, who closed last season with two goals and four assists in 19 appearances (nine starts), missed three games early in the year due to injury and diligently worked back to full speed in the Fighting Irish lineup. The Woodlands, Texas product will look to recapture the spark of her early run as a newcomer when Notre Dame kicks the season off at Illinois on Aug. 22.
Junior Mary Schwappach and sophomores Rilka Noel and Emily Geyer will provide additional veteran depth at forward, with Noel and Geyer able to double in the midfield. Schwappach has made 25 career appearances in her first two seasons at Notre Dame, picking up a pair of assists as a freshman in 2012. Noel saw action in 17 games last season, scoring her first career goal in an ACC home showdown against Duke (Oct. 20). Geyer logged action in only five games of her rookie campaign but made an impact almost immediately, scoring her first career goal in her second game in a Notre Dame uniform against Detroit at Alumni Stadium (Sept. 8, 2013).
Four players who could easily join the forward rotation comprise Notre Dame’s freshman class. Meghan Doyle (Niskayuna, N.Y.), Kaitlin Klawunder (Coto de Caza, Calif.), Karin Muya (London, England) and Katie Uhler (San Antonio, Texas) all bring stellar prep backgrounds to the table.
Doyle was a four-year starter for Niskayuna High School, tallying 65 goals and 38 assists in leading her alma mater to a 51-12-1 overall record. She was selected as an NSCAA Girls High School All-American in 2013, and was the New York State Class AA Co-Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. Doyle also competed with the 2012-13 Region I ODP and Eastern New York ODP teams during her prep career.
Klawunder, who along with sister Taylor make up one set of Notre Dame’s two sets of twins, was a standout at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, winning three Trinity League championships from 2011-13. Klawunder also appeared with the Cal South ODP team from 2009-13, winning U.S. Youth Soccer ODP National G96 championships with Cal South in 2012 and 2013, while playing on the club circuit with the So Cal Blues.
The lone international player on the 2014 Notre Dame roster, Muya was a member of England’s Under-19 team camp this past January that helped select the roster for the 2014 UEFA European U19 Qualifiers in April. On the club circuit, Muya graduated from the Chelsea Ladies Football Club’s Centre of Excellence and ultimately earned caps with the Chelsea Ladies of the FA WSL, the top women’s soccer division in England.
Uhler, who is also expected to see time in the Fighting Irish midfield, was a three-time NSCAA High School All-American (2012-14) at Saint Mary’s Hall, and was the 2014 NSCAA Texas High School Player of the Year. She scored 72 goals and added 45 assists as a four-year letterwinner during her prep career, serving as team captain over her final three seasons. Uhler also played for the Lonestar 96 ECNL in each of the past six seasons from 2009-14, leading various clubs to a 238-35-48 (.816) combined record during that span.
NOTRE DAME MIDFIELDERS
A solid midfield, regardless of the tactics a team chooses to employ, can be the essential position group for any great soccer team. For Notre Dame, an abundance of talent in the midfield is a problem that the team does not mind having.
Leading the way is 2013 all-ACC first team selection and 2013-14 Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy Watch List selection Cari Roccaro. Roccaro, one of three tri-captains on this season’s Notre Dame squad, has emerged as one of the most complete players in the nation in her first two seasons with the Fighting Irish, scoring 11 goals in her first 37 career games
Roccaro was the most recent Notre Dame All-America choice after being tabbed to the NSCAA third team as a freshman in 2012, a season in which she scored six goals in only 16 starts after missing time early in the season while competing in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. She and fellow junior tri-captain Katie Naughton recently returned from competing with Team USA at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada, and Roccaro was selected as a 2014 Soccer America Preseason Women’s All-American earlier this week.
Roccaro’s accolades through two seasons on the collegiate level, as well as her experience as the captain of the U.S. U-20 squad during the past Women’s World Cup run, has the East Islip, N.Y. native primed for success in her third year at Notre Dame.
Another top ACC award winner from 2013, the creative Morgan Andrews, also looks to follow up on the success of her freshman campaign. Ranked among the top players in the country after arriving at Notre Dame as the 2013 Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year, Andrews showed her mettle by taking home ACC Freshman of the Year and Soccer America All-Freshman first team honors last season.
Andrews, who added all-ACC second team and ACC All-Freshman team accolades to her rookie resume, paced all returning Notre Dame players with seven goals and 19 total points in 22 starts a season ago, with four of her seven goals counting as game-winning scores for the Fighting Irish. She added a team-high 73 shots, while placing second with 27 shots on goal.
Like Roccaro and Naughton, Andrews brings a wealth of international experience to the Notre Dame roster, competing as a mainstay in the U.S. Soccer youth national system for more than six years. The Milford, N.H. native most recently played for the U.S. U-20 team that won the 2014 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in the Cayman Islands this past January, registering three assists in five matches (three starts) during the tournament.
Junior Glory Williams begins her third season as a pivotal piece of the Fighting Irish midfield with 40 career appearances (26 starts) to her credit, including a goal and an assist recorded during her freshman campaign in 2012. Williams played in 19 contests for the 2013 Notre Dame squad, making nine starts as a holding midfielder.
A product of Dallas, Texas, Williams has played a key role as a distributor in transition thus far in her Notre Dame career, despite only being officially credited with one assist. Controlling the tempo of the game as a central midfielder, which in turn creates chances further up the field for the Fighting Irish attack, has become Williams’ signature in the team’s attacking style.
Sophomore Cindy Pineda emerged as a steady contributor in the midfield as a freshman last season, taking the pitch in 17 matches over the course of the year. Pineda scored her first collegiate goal on her second career shot attempt, heading home a feed in the box in the 25th minute against Northwestern (Aug. 25, 2013).
One of the up and coming players in the Mexico youth national team system, Pineda competed for the Mexican U-20 Women’s National Team during each of the past two season cycles. The Bolingbrook, Ill. native made two appearances during the group stage of the 2014 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in the Cayman Islands, scoring one goal to aid Mexico in claiming a runner-up finish at the tournament.
Sophomore Sandra Yu will have her first chance to appear in an official Notre Dame contest after completing her recovering from a severe knee injury suffered last preseason (Aug. 17) in an exhibition match against Baylor at the ND Practice Field. Yu scored 53 goals and added 50 assists as a standout attacking midfielder at Walsh Jesuit High School, twice earning Gatorade Ohio High School Player of the Year honors (2010, 2012). The Strongsville, Ohio native appeared in Notre Dame’s 2014 preseason matchups against Illinois State and Northwestern, and should compete for significant minutes throughout the upcoming season.
A strong freshmen contingent of Sabrina Flores (Livingston, N.J.), Taylor Klawunder (Coto de Caza, Calif.) and Megan McCashland (Lincoln, Neb.) join hybrid players Rilka Noel, Karin Simonian, Katie Uhler and senior Taylor Schneider as other candidates in the midfield rotation. A total of 13 players on the Notre Dame roster are listed at midfielder, the deepest spot in terms of numbers among all Fighting Irish position groups.
Flores, who along with sister Monica makes up the second set of twins on the 2014 Notre Dame squad alongside Kaitlin and Taylor Klawunder, was an all-conference and all-state selection as a letterwinner at Livingston High School. Flores was also involved in the 2013 U-18 Women’s National Team player pool, and most recently played for the PDA Slammers on the club circuit. The Slammers claimed the U-17 ECNL National Championship in 2013.
Klawunder earned two all-league citations at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, winning three straight Trinity League Championship alongside sister Kaitlin from 2011-13. She also appeared with the Cal South ODP team from 2009-13, winning U.S. Youth Soccer ODP National G96 championships with Cal South in 2012 and 2013, while playing on the club circuit with the So Cal Blues.
McCashland claimed four combined all-state scrolls during her prep career at Lincoln Southwest High School. She served as a team captain for the Region II ODP team since the 2012 season, and was selected as the 2013 National ODP All-Star team captain. McCashland is currently rehabilitating from a severe knee injury, and her status for the 2014 season is not officially known.
NOTRE DAME DEFENDERS
Team depth at the forward and midfield positions for the 2014 Notre Dame team might be the greatest in numbers, but the core of the program’s leadership resides in its defensive unit. Two of the team’s three captains call the Fighting Irish back line home, and with a total of six players who bring match experience to the table, will combine to help bring along a heralded freshman class.
Junior tri-captain Katie Naughton has started all 45 career games she has appeared in as a member of the Notre Dame defense, adding five goals and chipping in two assists on the attack. A total of 10 of Naughton’s 14 shot attempts in 2013 (.714) were on goal, the most among all Notre Dame players who connected on at least 10 shots last season.
An NSCAA all-Northeast Region second team choice as a freshman in 2012, Naughton enters her second season as a Fighting Irish team captain after returning from the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada. The Elk Grove, Ill. native started all four U.S. U-20 WNT matches in the tournament, logging nearly 400 consecutive minutes of playing time for Team USA.
Senior tri-captain Sammy Scofield has played in the most games of any current Notre Dame defender, and is tied with classmate Lauren Bohaboy for the active program lead with 67 appearances in a Fighting Irish uniform entering her final collegiate season. The streak of 67 straight games played will come to an end at Illinois on Aug. 22 when Scofield serves a one-game suspension retroactive to a red care received in last season’s NCAA Championship third round game at Michigan.
While continuing her strong defensive play as Notre Dame’s center back through her first three seasons, Scofield has gotten more involved in the Fighting Irish offensive game in each of the past two years. Scofield has jarred all four of her career goals since 2012, including the latest regulation match-winning goal (89:57) in program history against Syracuse in 2013. The Geneva, Ill. product also took part in the 2012 U.S. Under-23 National Team camp, and was a part of the U-18 National Team player pool in 2010.
Moving up to the midfield as situations have dictated over the past two seasons, senior Taylor Schneider provides another viable option in the Notre Dame defensive corps. Schneider has seen action in 57 career games (24 starts) through her first three years with the Fighting Irish, logging one assist in each of the past two seasons. A native of Southlake, Texas, Schneider has also competed in 13 career postseason matches, earning a starting nod in four of those games.
The player with perhaps the most versatile offensive skill set on the Notre Dame back line is one who has registered only three shots in her first two seasons, but the chances created by junior Brittany Von Rueden have paid dividends for the Fighting Irish in that span. A primary corner and free kick practitioner within an opponent’s third of the pitch due to her service ability, Von Rueden is the active Notre Dame career leader with 13 assists after being credited with six helpers in 20 games played (eight starts) in 2013. The Mequon, Wis. native has developed an aggressive on-ball defensive style, and has proven invaluable in help situations as an outside back.
Junior Charlotte Anderson and sophomore Mariel Adams both add veteran defensive depth and look to challenge for slots in the Fighting Irish rotation. Anderson has played in four career games at Notre Dame in her first two years on the roster, while Adams added three appearances of her own as a freshman in 2013.
Along with dual defender/midfielder Sabrina Flores, three other Notre Dame freshmen are eager to compete for active roles on the Fighting Irish defense. Paige Crowley (Los Gatos, Calif.), Monica Flores (Livingston, N.J.) and Ginny McGowan (Lake Forest, Ill.) round out the incoming defensive prospects.
Crowley was a four-year letterwinner and starter at Saint Francis High School, helping the team to a 32-7-6 record that included 25 shutouts. Crowley was involved in the 2013 U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team player pool process, and played for the Cal-North State and Region IV ODP teams from 2009-11. She served as a longtime team captain of the MVLA Lightning on the club circuit, leading the team to six straight State Cup Championship game berths from 2007-12.
Flores, who along with sister Sabrina makes up the second set of twins on the 2014 Notre Dame squad alongside Kaitlin and Taylor Klawunder, was an all-conference and all-state selection as a letterwinner at Livingston High School. Flores was also involved in the 2013 U-18 Women’s National Team player pool, and most recently played for the PDA Slammers on the club circuit. The Slammers claimed the U-17 ECNL National Championship in 2013.
McGowan was an all-conference and all-state selection at Lake Forest High School, and was rated as the No. 1 defender in the Midwest Region according to the 2014 Top Drawer Soccer Girls IMG Academy 150 player ratings. Included in the 2013 U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team player pool with a number of her other freshmen teammates, McGowan played alongside current Notre Dame teammate Von Rueden for the Chicago Red Stars Reserves in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) during the summer of 2014.
NOTRE DAME GOALKEEPERS
Opportunity sometimes flashes by in an instant, and those who seize an opportunity often make their own breaks in competitive sports. Over the past two seasons, three different players have seen significant time as a starting goalkeeper for Notre Dame due primarily to factors outside of their control. A similar result in each circumstance has been the strength in the performance of the next keeper in to not disrupt the motion of the Fighting Irish.
Kaela Little became the second straight freshman to take over primary goalkeeping duties for Notre Dame in 2013, starting all 22 games during her rookie year. Logging 98 percent of all Fighting Irish minutes in goal last season, Little posted a 13-8-1 record and a 0.89 goals-against average in more than 2,000 minutes between the pipes.
The Tulsa, Okla. native was named the Notre Dame Team Most Valuable Freshman in recognition of her overall performance last season, which included eight shutouts (six solo) in net. Prior to beginning her collegiate career last fall at Notre Dame, Little took part in a pair of U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team camps in 2013.
Little earned the immediate nod as the program’s starting goalkeeper due to an injury suffered by fellow Oklahoma native Elyse Hight, who had similarly shined as a true freshman during the 2012 Notre Dame season. Hight played in 17 games (16 starts) during her inaugural collegiate season, finishing with a 10-5-1 record that included six total shutouts (five solo).
Hight finished the 2012 season with a team-best 0.63 goals-against average, playing a large part in leading Notre Dame to what was at the time the program’s 20th straight NCAA Championship berth. The Edmond, Okla. product was forced to miss seven matches during her freshman year as a result of injury, and due to continued lingering ailments as a sophomore, Hight had season-ending surgery before ever suiting up in 2013.
Seniors Sarah Voigt and Jennifer Jasper provide additional veteran leadership in goal entering their final seasons at Notre Dame. After making three reserve appearances in 2013 Voigt has now seen action in 21 career games (13 starts), recording a 1.19 goals-against average and three solo shutouts. Jasper has competed in two matches during her collegiate career entering the 2014 season, posting a total of two saves in limited duty.
A fifth member of the Notre Dame goalkeeper lineup is the sole freshman of the group, Lexi Nicholas (Pleasanton, Calif.). Nicholas played all 180 minutes of the two Fighting Irish preseason matches leading up to the opening of the 2014 regular season, earning a 1-0-1 record with a 1.00 goals-against average during the exhibition schedule.
Nicholas was a four-year letterwinner and two-year team captain at Amador Valley High School, claiming team most valuable player honors following the 2012 season. She competed for five years with the Cal State North ODP State team (2009-13), earning selections to the Region IV Championship All-Tournament first team in 2011 and 2012. Nicholas was also named to the 2013 U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team player pool, and made a pair of starts in net during the team cycle.
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2013 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.
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