Sept. 29, 2011
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-5-2 / 1-2-1 BIG EAST) vs. Connecticut Huskies (4-4-2 / 1-1-2 BIG EAST)
DATE: September 30, 2011
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Alumni Stadium (2,500)
SERIES: ND leads 20-5-4
LAST MTG: UCONN 2-0 (10/31/10)
TV: ESPNU (live) (Glenn Davis, p-b-p / Tony DiCicco, color)
STATS/BLOG: UND.com (live)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-5-2 / 1-2-1 BIG EAST) vs. Providence Friars (4-4-4 / 2-2-0 BIG EAST)
DATE: October 2, 2011
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Alumni Stadium (2,500)
SERIES: ND leads 15-0-0
LAST MTG: ND 3-1 (10/17/10)
WEBCAST: UND.com (live) (Daniel Byrne, p-b-p / Adam Llorens, color)
STATS/BLOG: UND.com (live)
Notre Dame Back Home This Weekend To Face Connecticut And Providence
After a rugged stretch on the road, Notre Dame is back home for five of its final seven regular-season contests, beginning this weekend when it plays host to Connecticut (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET) and Providence (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET) at Alumni Stadium. The UConn match will be televised live to a national audience by ESPNU, while Sunday's Providence match will be webcast live at UND.com.
Notre Dame (4-5-2, 1-2-1) went to overtime in both matches last weekend, earning a 1-1 draw at South Florida before falling 3-2 at No. 14/15 Marquette.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
An extra layer of paint on the crossbar or goal post, a double stitch on the ball, or even an added mile-per-hour on the wind meter -- whatever the explanation, Notre Dame may be the nation's best 4-5-2 team, based solely on the fact the Fighting Irish have come agonizingly close to four big wins over top-15 opponents this year, only to have them snatched away at the death (twice in overtime) by the cruel hand of fate.
Despite its record, Notre Dame has registered wide margins over its opponents in total shots (+105), shots on goal (+44) and corner kicks (+18). The Fighting Irish also average better than two goals per match (2.18) this season.
Senior forward Melissa Henderson (11G-3A) is having another stellar season, leading the BIG EAST and ranking among the top 15 in the nation in goals, points, goals per match (1.0) and points per match (2.27). A pair of sophomores -- forward Adriana Leon (4G-1A) and midfielder Mandy Laddish (1G-5A) also have made solid offensive contributions this year.
Connecticut comes to town with a 4-4-2 record this season, including a 1-1-2 record (five points) in the BIG EAST's American Division. The Huskies have gone to overtime in their last three matches, most recently playing to a pair of 2-2 draws last weekend at home against Louisville and Cincinnati.
UConn opened conference play with a 1-0 win at home against Syracuse before a 1-0 overtime loss at St. John's. The Huskies also have two wins over ranked opponents among their four victories this season, earning a 2-1 win at 15th-ranked Wake Forest on Sept. 2, and taking down No. 20 Boston University, 3-0, on Sept. 9 in Storrs, Conn.
Junior forward Danielle Schulmann (a transfer from Seton Hall) scored goals in both matches last weekend, including the equalizer against Cincinnati with 4:02 left in regulation. Schulmann leads Connecticut in scoring this year (five goals), while sophomore midfielder Devin Prendergast (three goals) and freshman midfielder Riley Houle (two goals) also have found the back of the net multiple times this season. Senior forward Jessica Shufelt has dished out a team-high three assists this year.
Senior Jessica Dulski has played every minute in goal for the Huskies in 2011, posting a 1.05 goals-against average (GAA) with three shutouts and an .814 save percentage.
Head coach Len Tsantiris is his 31st season at Connecticut with a 488-159-48 (.737) all-time record, ranking second in NCAA Division I history for career wins. Tsantiris is 5-20-4 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Connecticut Series
Friday's match will mark the 30th meeting between Notre Dame and Connecticut, with the Fighting Irish holding a 20-5-4 edge in the series (12-2 in South Bend).
This will be the first matchup between the squads since UConn's 2-0 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 31, 2010, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Alumni Stadium, ending an NCAA Division I-record 77-match unbeaten streak against conference opponents for the Fighting Irish (see recap in next note).
Connecticut has not defeared Notre Dame in the regular season since Oct. 20, 2001 (3-1 win in Storrs), a stretch of nine matches.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Connecticut Met
As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end," and for the No. 3/5 Notre Dame women's soccer team, it was two historic streaks that finally ended at the hands of Connecticut, which shocked the Fighting Irish, 2-0, in a BIG EAST Conference quarterfinal match on Oct. 31, 2010 at Alumni Stadium.
The loss snapped Notre Dame's NCAA Division I-record 77-match unbeaten streak (72-0-5) against conference opponents, as the Huskies handed the Fighting Irish their first setback to a league foe since Sept. 30, 2005, when Marquette earned a 4-1 win over Notre Dame in Milwaukee. In addition, the loss to Connecticut was the first by the Fighting Irish against a BIG EAST opponent at home in 100 consecutive matches, dating back to the Huskies' 5-4 overtime win over Notre Dame on Oct. 6, 1995, at old Alumni Field.
Elise Fugowski scored both goals for Connecticut, breaking through in the 59th minute and then adding an insurance goal off a Fighting Irish defensive miscue with exactly 17 minutes to play. Erin Clark and Linda Ruutu were credited with assists on Fugowski's tallies.
The Huskies ended up outshooting Notre Dame, 14-12 in the match, including a 6-3 edge in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish had the advantage in corner kicks, 5-3, and were flagged for all three offsides calls on the afternoon, while UConn was tapped for 11 of the 17 fouls (and the lone caution).
Nikki Weiss made four saves in the Fighting Irish net, while Jessica Dulski saved three shots for the Huskies.
Other Notre Dame-Connecticut Series Tidbits
Providence enters this weekend with a record more suited for a slot machine in Las Vegas (4-4-4 overall, 2-2 in the BIG EAST's American Division). The Friars actually played all four of their draws in the first six matches of the season, and only once in 12 outings this year has Providence seen a match decided by more than two goals (with seven of them ending in draws or one-goal margins).
PC split its home matches with Cincinnati (2-0 win) and Louisville (1-0 loss) last weekend, with both contests being defensive struggles in which no team recording 10 total shots (or five shots on goal) in either match. Senior midfielder Laura Di Clemente was the hero against Cincinnati, scoring twice in the second half including the clincher with 5:38 left.
Di Clemente leads the Friars in scoring this season (six goals, three assists, 15 points), while senior midfielder Courtney Collins and senior forward Taylor Bartini each have three goals, and junior midfiedler Mary Vercollone has added two scores. Collins, Vercollone and freshman midfielder Allison Walton are second on the squad with two assists apiece, trailing only Di Clemente in that department.
Senior Caitlin Walker has seen the lion's share of the activity in the Providence goal this season, playing all but 8:35 while posting a 0.78 goals-against average (GAA) and a .762 save percentage with five shutouts.
Head coach Jim McGirr is in his seventh season with the Friars, sporting a 38-60-20 (.407) record heading into this weekend's action. McGirr is 0-6 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Providence Series
Notre Dame and Providence are slated to play for the 16th time on Sunday, with the Fighting Irish having won each of the previous 15 matchups in the series, including all eight in South Bend. This also marks the 14th time the schools have collided in BIG EAST play.
Notre Dame has registered a 76-2 scoring margin all-time against the Friars (72-2 in the BIG EAST), logging 13 shutouts in 15 series matches to date (11 of those clean sheets coming in conference action)
Last year, the Fighting Irish scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half to take a 3-1 victory at Providence. The Friars last visited Alumni Stadium on Oct. 18, 2009, when Notre Dame earned a 2-0 win.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Providence Met
Lauren Fowlkes and Rose Augustin scored 8:09 apart early in the second half as No. 4/5 Notre Dame knocked off Providence, 3-1 in BIG EAST Conference action on Oct. 17, 2010, at Glay Field in Providence, R.I.
The Fighting Irish win, coupled with Georgetown's simultaneous 3-0 loss at West Virginia, clinched Notre Dame's sixth consecutive BIG EAST National Division title and its 13th conference regular-season crown (division or overall) since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96.
Notre Dame outshot Providence, 15-12 for the match, along with a 7-6 edge in shots on goal -- in the second half, the Fighting Irish outshot PC, 9-5, including a 5-2 edge in shots on goal. The Friars took the advantage on corner kicks, 8-6, although Notre Dame attempted four of the five tries from the flag in the final 45 minutes.
Nikki Weiss registered five saves in the Fighting Irish net, including three high-quality stops in the first half, to earn her 14th win of the season, tying her career high set in 2009. Providence goalkeeper Jill Schott turned aside four shots for the hosts.
Other Notre Dame-Providence Series Tidbits
Notre Dame is wearing specially-designed jerseys (based on the Fighting Irish men's kits from 2008-09) for this weekend's matches. These jerseys are available to the public via an on-line auction (UND.com/auctions) through Oct. 17, with the proceeds going to benefit the Steve Emrich Fund (see the story in the sidebar on page 8 for more details on this worthy cause).
No Worries ... We've Got This
A few observers around the country may have raised an eyebrow at Notre Dame's 4-5-2 record this season. But consider the following:
Keep Chopping Wood
One of the reasons for Notre Dame's slow start this season has been its polish in the final third. The Fighting Irish have created numerous golden scoring opportunities throughout their first 11 outings, but they're still seeking that cutting edge in front of the net.
A prime example of this has come in the past month (eight matches). Notre Dame has rolled up a staggering 200 total shots (25 per match), including 80 shots on goal (10 per match), and yet the Fighting Irish have just 20 goals in that span (one goal every 10 shots, or one every four shots on frame).
Notre Dame is unbeaten in 22 of its last 25 matches on Sunday (19-3-3), including a 17-match unbeaten streak that was snapped with a 2-0 loss to Connecticut in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals on Oct. 31, 2010.
Still, the Fighting Irish own a 38-5-4 (.851) record in the past 47 contests when closing out the weekend, dating back to September 2007 (when Notre Dame lost three consecutive Sunday matches to nationally-ranked Stanford, Oklahoma State and Penn State, all by 2-1 scores and the first two in overtime).
Henderson A Trend Setter
If you're looking to spot a trend in Notre Dame's success during the past four seasons, look no further than senior forward Melissa Henderson. Since the Garland, Texas, native arrived in South Bend, she has scored 63 goals (second-most among active Division I players, and sixth in school history) and added 21 assists for 147 career points (11th in school history), making her one of 26 Fighting Irish players with at least 20 goals and 20 assists in her career.
This season, Henderson leads Notre Dame in goals (11) and points (25) and is tied for second in assists (3). She also leads the BIG EAST in virtually every offensive statistical category, including total goals, goals per match (1.0), points per match (2.27) and total shots (48), and she is second in the conference in total points, as well as third in shots per match (4.36) and tied for 10th in total assists.
On the national stage, Henderson ranks among the top 15 in four NCAA statistical categories -- total goals (7th), total points (10th), goals per match (10th) and points per match (15th). She is one of eight players in the country to rank in the top 10 in the first three categories, and one of nine to be in the top 15 in all four areas.
What's more, Henderson has hat tricks this season against Indiana and Cincinnati (one of only three BIG EAST players with a three-goal night, and the only one to do it more than once), giving her five career hat tricks, which is tied for third in school history behind only two-time Hermann Trophy recipient Kerri Hanks (6) and Jenny Heft (6).
Fueled in part by her 4G-2A performance at the Notre Dame adidas Invitational, Henderson was voted by the participating coaches as the tournament's Offensive Most Valuable Player. She went on to be chosen as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week, in addition to earning a spot on the Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and Our Game Magazine national teams of the week.
These markers have been particularly valuable to Fighting Irish fortunes. In fact, during Henderson's career, Notre Dame is 39-2-3 when she scores a goal, something she's done in 17 of her last 26 outings, dating back to last season. The Fighting Irish also are 48-2-3 all-time when Henderson tallies a point, which she has done in 33 of the past 46 contests, a stretch that carries back to 2009.
The only times Notre Dame has lost when Henderson had a goal or point came earlier this season (Sept. 9 at No. 2 Stanford; Sept. 25 at No. 14/15 Marquette).
Henderson Headed To U-23 Camp
Senior forward Melissa Henderson has accepted an invitation to participate in a training camp with the United States Under-23 National Team next week at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The camp, which features 24 of the nation's top college players and young professionals, will take place from Oct. 2-7, and will be jointly overseen by U.S. Soccer Women's Development Director Jill Ellis, U.S. Soccer Women's Technical Director April Heinrichs and U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage.
Sundhage will be at the camp to evaluate players for possible call-ups to U.S. National Team camps heading into next January's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, and potentially for the run to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Henderson is no stranger to U.S. Soccer, having played with age-group national teams since 2006, including the past three years with the U-23 National Team. In that program's most recent cycle, which concluded this summer, Henderson scored five goals and added an assist, including three goals at the Four Nations Tournament in Leicester, England, in February/March 2011, leading the United States to the tournament title.
Sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish has emerged as one of the leading playmakers in the nation this season, currently leading the BIG EAST Conference with five assists.
Not bad for someone who played much of her rookie season at the holding midfield spot (in place of the injured Courtney Barg) and thus ended up with five points (2G-1A) for the year.
As Tough As An Old Schu
Senior defender Jessica Schuveiller has been a mainstay for the Notre Dame defense throughout her career. In fact, the rugged (and still remarkably underrated) center back from Plano, Texas, has started all 89 Fighting Irish matches and played 93.6 percent of her team's minutes (7,629 of a possible 8,149) since she set foot on campus more than three years ago.
In that time, Schuveiller has helped Notre Dame post 72 wins, 50 shutouts and a 0.72 goals-against average (GAA), with only three teams scoring more than two goals in a single match against the Fighting Irish under her watch (UNC 6-0 on Sept. 4, 2009, at Alumni Stadium; Duke 3-1 on Aug. 28, 2010, in Chapel Hill, N.C.; Marquette 3-2 in overtime on Sept. 25, 2010, in Milwaukee).
A two-time NSCAA all-region pick and the 2010 NCAA Women's College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Schuveiller was one of 25 players (along with classmate Melissa Henderson) named to this year's Soccer America Preseason All-America Team.
Three Best Friends Anyone Could Have
Chemistry is key to the success of any team, but Notre Dame has a unique formula that supports its framework this season. The Fighting Irish are led by three senior captains -- midfielder Courtney Barg, forward Melissa Henderson and defender Jessica Schuveiller -- who not only form the backbone of their starting lineup, but have been best friends since the fifth grade growing up back in suburban Dallas. In fact, the trio played together on age-group teams for the elite Dallas Texans soccer club starting with the U-11s and continuing through the rest of their pre-college days (moving to the newly-formed Sting Dallas club for their final season in 2007-08 before coming to Notre Dame).
Actually, Barg and Schuveiller have known each other even longer, going back nearly 15 years to the second grade before linking up with Henderson three years later.
ND Seniors Among Nation's Best
The 2011 Notre Dame senior class currently is the third-most successful group in the country on the basis of total victories, with a four-year record to date of 72-12-5 (.837) that includes a national championship (2010), an NCAA runner-up finish (2008) and a trip to the 2009 NCAA Women's College Cup semifinals.
The .837 winning percentage compiled by the Fighting Irish seniors is fourth-best on the national scene.
We Love The New Digs
Alumni Stadium is quickly earning a reputation as not only one of the nation's finest college facilities, but also a truly intimidating place for visiting teams. In fact, following Notre Dame's loss to top-ranked North Carolina in its first match at the new stadium (Sept. 4, 2009), the Fighting Irish have won 28 of their last 30 at home, outscoring their opponents, 82-10 in that span while recording 21 shutouts. Notre Dame also had a 23-match home winning streak before it was snapped on Oct. 31, 2010, with a 2-0 loss to Connecticut in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals.
Packing Them In
Not only has Notre Dame experienced great success at Alumni Stadium, but the Fighting Irish also are seeing the rewards at the turnstiles as well. Notre Dame currently ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 2,297 fans per home match this season, which would easily top the old school record for single-season average attendance (1,938 in 2007).
Notre Dame's rise in attendance this season includes a stadium-record 3,511 fans for its Sept. 2 contest against Tulsa on the opening night of the Notre Dame adidas Invitational. That crowd was not only the second sellout in stadium history (after 3,007 attended the opener vs. North Carolina on Sept. 4, 2009), but also the ninth-largest crowd in the nation this season.
Incidentally, Notre Dame's match at North Carolina on Aug. 26 attracted the largest crowd of the 2011 season thus far, with 5,236 fans on hand for the Tar Heels' 2-1 overtime win.
The Fighting Irish also have played in front of three sellout crowds this year, all in the past eight matches (home vs. Tulsa on Sept. 2; at Stanford on Sept. 9; at Cincinnati on Sept. 18).
Our Fearless Leader
Now in his 13th season at Notre Dame, head coach Randy Waldrum ranks third on the NCAA Division I career winning percentage list with a .784 (364-91-25) mark in his 22 years in the women's game. He also is second among active coaches for career winning percentage, while his 364 career wins rank fifth on the all-time NCAA Division I charts -- Waldrum earned his 350th career victory on Oct. 3, 2010, vs. St. John's at Alumni Stadium.
A two-time National Coach of the Year (2009 by Soccer America, 2010 by NSCAA), Waldrum has led Notre Dame to eight NCAA College Cups, five NCAA finals and two national championships (2004 and 2010). He also is second in NCAA Division I history with eight College Cup appearances and five title-match berths in his storied career.
New Kid On The Block
Notre Dame added another player to its roster on Sept. 13, as junior midfielder Nicole Borner joined the squad after successfully competing in preseason tryouts.
A native of Pendleton, N.Y., and a 2009 graduate of Starpoint High School, Borner spent the 2009-10 academic year at Binghamton University, where she played in 15 matches for the Bearcats, helping them to a 9-7-2 record and berth in the America East Conference championship semifinals. She then transferred to Notre Dame prior to the 2010-11 academic year, but did not play soccer after undergoing a pair of surgeries on her right foot.
The 2-0 Guarantee
Notre Dame is 328-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead and is unbeaten in its past 305 contests when going ahead 2-0 (dating back to a 3-3 draw with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati).
In fact, just two of the past 217 Fighting Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have forced a draw, something achieved by four opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (ND won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at old Alumni Field (ND led 2-0, later tied 2-2 and 3-3, ND won 4-3), Duke on Nov. 30, 2007, in the NCAA quarterfinals at old Alumni Field (ND won 3-2), and most recently, Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (ND won 3-2 in OT).
Three ... Is The Magic Number
Scoring three goals has meant virtually an automatic win in Notre Dame women's soccer history, with a 299-3-1 (.988) record in those games, including a 201-1-0 (.995) mark since Oct. 6, 1995.
Golden Domers Golden In OT
Overtime has usually been the right time for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish are 20-6-13 (.679) all-time in the Randy Waldrum era (since 1999) when going to an extra period or two. Notre Dame also is unbeaten in 11 of its last 14 overtime contests.
The Fighting Irish have gone to extra time on four occasions this year, one off the school record of five OT matches, first set in 2001 and duplicated in 2007 (the last time Notre Dame went to bonus soccer in four or more matches).
Two current Notre Dame players have scored "golden goals" in their college careers -- senior forward Melissa Henderson (Nov. 9, 2008 vs. Connecticut in the BIG EAST final at old Alumni Field) and senior defender Jessica Schuveiller (Nov. 6, 2009 vs. St. John's in the BIG EAST semifinals at Storrs, Conn.).
A trio of seniors -- midfielder Courtney Barg, forward Melissa Henderson and defender Jessica Schuveiller -- were selected to serve as Notre Dame's captains this year, according to a preseason vote of their teammates.
Schuveiller is making history as the first three-year captain in the 24-year history of Fighting Irish women's soccer. When she first earned the armband in 2009, Schuveiller was Notre Dame's first non-senior captain since Amy Warner in 2002.
Barg and Henderson are in their first seasons as team captains.
Next Up: Seton Hall/Rutgers
Notre Dame makes its bi-annual road swing through the state of New Jersey next weekend, venturing to Seton Hall on Friday for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest, before heading down to Rutgers on Sunday for a noon (ET) match.
Seton Hall (7-2-2, 3-1) has been one of the pleasant surprises in the BIG EAST this season, currently sharing the top spot in the National Division. Led by senior forward Taylor Wilson (league-best nine points in BIG EAST play), the Pirates will play host to Syracuse and St. John's this weekend.
Rutgers (6-4-1, 1-2-1) has been bitten by the injury bug this season and has battled through an up-and-down campaign much like Notre Dame. The Scarlet Knights, who are a perfect 5-0 at home this year, welcome St. John's and Syracuse to town this weekend.