Nov. 13, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame will see three of its representatives hit the pitch in Papua New Guinea starting this week as play commences in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Sabrina Flores and Natalie Jacobs make up two of the 21 players head coach Michelle French announced will represent the United States at this year’s World Cup, being held in Papua New Guinea from November 13 through December 3. Flores, a rising junior, and Jacobs, a rising sophomore, have taken the semester off from both NCAA competition and their studies in preparation for the event.
Junior Monica Flores, who played a significant role for the Irish this fall as a defender and midfielder, will put on the jersey for Mexico.
The U.S. opens play on Monday against France. The next challenge comes against New Zealand on Thursday while group play concludes against Ghana on Monday, November 21. The U.S. will play its first two group games at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium and its third group game at National Football Stadium, both located in the capital city of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Mexico will open group play against South Korea on Monday, followed by a match against Germany on Thursday. Both games will be played at National Football Stadium. Mexico will close group play against Venezuela on Monday, November 21, at Bava Park in Port Moresby.
Sabrina Flores and Jacobs played essential roles in the U.S. qualifying effort at last December’s CONCACAF Championship, as the team defeated Canada 1-0 in the title match. Jacobs was named to the tournament’s Best XI team following the conclusion of play.
Monica Flores helped Mexico to a third-place finish at the CONCACAF Championship, recording 406 minutes and one assist in five games. Almost immediately following the tournament, she received an invitation to join the full Mexico Women’s National Team during the Four Nations Tournament in January, when she earned her first international cap.
Notre Dame’s three players on U-20 World Cup rosters are the most of any team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. North Carolina and Pittsburgh each boast two representatives.
The World Cup field consists of 16 teams divided into four groups of four during the group stage. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarterfinal stage with single elimination to the championship.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.