Aug 29, 2013
DATE: Aug. 30, 2013
For more than two decades, the Notre Dame adidas Invitational has been arguably the premier regular-season tournament in women's college soccer. The four-team event, which has existed under a variety of names since its debut at the Golden Dome Classic, has been played almost annually since 1992 (the lone exception coming in 1994), and has never failed to attract the cream of the crop in terms of team and individual talent.
That should again be the case this weekend, as the tournament kicks off Friday, with No. 4/2 UCLA and No. 20/25 Marquette meeting in the opener at 5 p.m. (ET) and No. 7/4 Notre Dame playing host to last year's Summit League champion (and new Horizon League member) Oakland in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. (ET), with both matches at Alumni Stadium.
"We've built a tremendous history with this tournament over the years," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "It's a great early-season test for every team that comes in here, and the games never fail to provide excitement and some of the best college soccer action in the country on an annual basis. Everyone in the Michiana area should take advantage of this opportunity, as it's among the highest quality soccer you're going to find anywhere at this level."
If history is any indication, this year's Notre Dame adidas Invitational will be a stage for some of the future stars of college, professional and international soccer, both in the United States and overseas. In fact, since the tournament kicked off more than 20 years ago, eight Hermann Trophy recipients have led their teams onto the pitch in South Bend, including a trio of two-time winners in North Carolina's Cindy Parlow (1997 and 1998; played in '97 tournament), Portland's Christine Sinclair (2004 and 2005; played in '02 tournament) and Notre Dame's Kerri Hanks (2006 and 2008; played in '05-'08 tournaments).
Looking back at the past two major international women's soccer tournaments (the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London), 11 players who previously competed at the Notre Dame adidas Invitational took part in one or both of those events, including Sinclair and Notre Dame's Melissa Tancredi (played from 2001-04) and Candace Chapman (played in 2001-02 and 2004-05), who led Canada to the Olympic bronze medal, and five of the 18 players on the U.S. Olympic roster, including former Fighting Irish standout Shannon Boxx (played from 1995-98), as well as Nicole Barnhart (Stanford - 2004 tournament), Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State - 2003 tournament) and Carli Lloyd (Rutgers - 2003 tournament).
Along with recent international competitions, numerous World Cup and national team veterans, as well as countless National Players of the Year and All-Americans have participated in the Notre Dame adidas Invitational. It's a litany of legends that reads like an encyclopedia of NCAA women's soccer, from Fighting Irish All-Americans and U.S. Women's National Team selections such as Holly Manthei, Kate Sobrero (Markgraf) and Jen Grubb, and international stars Anne Makinen (Finland - 2000 Hermann Trophy recipient) and Monica Gonzalez (Mexico), to some of the standard bearers for other programs and National Team greats like Julie Foudy (Stanford), Lorrie Fair (North Carolina), Aly Wagner (Santa Clara), Christie Welsh (Penn State). Those don't even count the players whose teams competed at the tournament while they were away on international duty, a roster that includes current U.S. Women's National Team players Rachel Buehler (Stanford) and Amy Rodriguez (USC), as well as recent Canadian National Team player Diana Matheson (Princeton).
However, for all the standouts that have competed in the Notre Dame adidas Invitational, some of the tournament's best stories have come from those players who rose to the occasion and helped their teams to victory, sometimes in adverse situations.
In 2000, a speedy Notre Dame freshman striker named Amy Warner collected a goal and an assist as the Fighting Irish breezed past No. 2 Santa Clara, 6-1 in the then-named KeyBank/adidas Classic. Warner would go on to a dynamic career at Notre Dame, finishing 14th on the school's all-time points list (99) and becoming the first Fighting Irish forward ever to earn first-team All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as a senior in 2003.
The year after Warner's graduation, Notre Dame seemingly was dealt a fatal blow when talented senior forward Mary Boland went down with what was later diagnosed as a broken leg in the tournament finale, ironically enough against fourth-ranked Santa Clara. However, eventual 2004 Soccer America National Player of the Year Katie Thorlakson emphatically staked her claim for the honor, having a hand in all five Notre Dame goals (3G-2A) as the Fighting Irish scored three times in a 3:39 span inside the final 10 minutes for a 5-2 victory (Thorlakson scoring twice and assisting on Chapman's goal in the flurry).
To this day, Thorlakson's eight-point afternoon remains the best ever posted by a Notre Dame player against a Top 25 opponent. It also proved to be one of the early turning points in what would be a memorable Fighting Irish run to the program's second national championship.
"That's what makes this tournament so special," Waldrum said. "You have great players making great plays when the pressure is on. Usually, these kinds of matchups take place later in the year, and even in the NCAA tournament, so to be able to have strong fields like we get every year at this event, it's truly exciting."
In addition to the greats on the pitch, some of the most successful coaches in NCAA Division I history have plied their trade in the Notre Dame adidas Invitational, including four of the top five on the D-I all-time winning percentage list -- North Carolina's Anson Dorrance, the late Portland coach Clive Charles, Florida's Becky Burleigh and Waldrum, not to mention longtime Connecticut skipper Len Tsantiris (second on the Division I career wins list with 501), Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith (fourth all-time with 394 Division I victories) and William & Mary manager John Daly (sixth on the D-I wins chart at 361).
"This year's tournament should be very interesting, with three top-20 teams in us, UCLA and Marquette, plus a strong Oakland team that beat Ohio State in the first round of last year's NCAAs," Waldrum said. "Oakland has a new coach this season, so not sure how that really will impact their program, but they always have several talented players and they played well here last year before we were able to break them down in the second half.
"Sunday will be a great test for us with UCLA," he added. "Abby Dahlkemper, Jenna Richmond and Sam Mewis all play for me with our U.S. U-23 National Team. They are all very good and very dangerous, and across the board, UCLA is loaded with talent, so it'll be a challenge. However, I like our team and our talent, and it should be a classic matchup!"
ADIDAS INVITATIONAL HISTORY
THE NOTRE DAME-OAKLAND SERIES
Notre Dame also blitzed Oakland, 7-1 in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Championship (Nov. 10, 2006) at old Alumni Field. The seven Fighting Irish goals scored were the second-most in program history during an NCAA Championship match (topped only by the eight goals against Indiana in 1996 and against UCLA in 1997).
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND OAKLAND MET
Crystal Thomas scored her team-high fifth goal of the 2012 season in the 69th minute, off assists from Roccaro and Lauren Bohaboy before Roccaro herself added an insurance goal, her third score in as many matches, by converting a pass from Mandy Laddish with just under 10 minutes remaining. Anna Maria Gilbertson capped the scoring for Notre Dame, potting her second goal of the year off an assist from Karin Simonian in the 83rd minute.
The Fighting Irish held an overwhelming statistical advantage on offense, posting a 23-2 margin in total shots -- in fact, Oakland didn't register its first shot of the day until less than 17 minutes remained in the match, and both of the Golden Grizzlies' shots were taken from outside the penalty area and well off the mark. Notre Dame also had a 12-0 edge in shots on goal and a 6-2 spread on corner kicks.
Goalkeeper Sarah Voigt did not have to make a save on the way to earning her first career solo shutout and helping the Fighting Irish to their fourth clean sheet of 2012. Oakland netminder Shannon Coley did all she could to keep the visitors in the match, recording nine stops.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-OAKLAND SERIES TIDBITS
LAST TIME OUT: NORTHWESTERN
Katie Naughton added a goal and an assist (her first career multi-point match) against one of her hometown schools, while two other sophomores -- Chicagoland forward Crystal Thomas and defender Brittany Von Rueden -- both dished out a career-high two assists. Another Windy City product, freshman Cindy Pineda also got into the act, opening her account with her first career goal midway through the first half.
Julie Sierks provided the lone bright spot for the Wildcats, scoring her second career goal (and both have come against the Fighting Irish).
Notre Dame dominated Northwestern in every statistical category, holding a 36-5 edge in total shots, including a 14-2 spread in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also had a 9-4 margin on corner kicks and an 11-6 difference on fouls.
Meanwhile, Northwestern goalkeeper Rachel Bergman faced a near-constant barrage of shots throughout almost 70 minutes of action, turning aside eight shots in that time. Jenna Hascher made her college debut in a relief role in the Wildcats' net, recording two saves.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: NORTHWESTERN
BOHABOY EARNS NATIONAL HONOR
Bohaboy is the first Notre Dame player to earn a place on the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week since Oct. 8, 2012, when Brittany Von Rueden was chosen after notching three assists in a 5-1 win over Seton Hall and a scoreless draw with Rutgers.
HOME IS WHERE THE WINS ARE
UP NEXT: #4/2 UCLA
UCLA, which meets Marquette in Friday's tournament opener at 5 p.m. (ET), returns 26 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last year's team that reached the NCAA Championship quarterfinals before a narrow 2-1 loss at Stanford in the round of eight. The Bruins opened this season with convincing shutout wins at home last weekend over Northeastern (4-0) and Cal State Northridge (3-0), allowing only four combined shots (one on goal) in the two victories.
Season and single-match tickets for the 2013 Notre Dame women's soccer campaign 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