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    #5 Irish Set For NCAA Second Round Clash With Central Michigan

    FIGHTING IRISH Freshman midfielder Lindsay Brown registered her first career point with a second-half assist in Notre Dame's 5-0 win over IUPUI in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Freshman midfielder Lindsay Brown registered her first career point with a second-half assist in Notre Dame's 5-0 win over IUPUI in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 14, 2009

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    2009 ND Women's Soccer -- Game 23
    NCAA Championship -- Second Round
    #5/5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-3-1 / 10-0-1 BIG EAST) vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (17-3-3 / 9-0-2 MAC)

    DATE: November 15, 2009
    TIME: 1:00 pm ET
    AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Alumni Stadium (2,500)
    SERIES: First meeting
    WEBCAST: UND.com (live) (Michael Scholl, p-b-p / Tony Black, color)
    LIVE STATS: UND.com
    TEXT ALERT: Sign up at UND.com
    TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/tickets

    Storylines

  • Two of the nation's longest active unbeaten streaks are on the line, as Notre Dame (16; 15-0-1) and Central Michigan (18; 15-0-3) meet with a place in the NCAA round-of-16 at stake.
  • During their current 16-game unbeaten streak, the Irish have led or been tied for nearly 99 percent of the total minutes played (all but 16:38 of 1,468:56).
  • #5 Irish Set For NCAA Second Round Clash With Central Michigan
    There will be no shortage of intriguing subplots when No. 5 Notre Dame plays host to Central Michigan in an NCAA Championship second-round match Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET) inside Alumni Stadium. Not only will two of the nation's longest active unbeaten streaks be on the line, but it also will pit the high-octane Irish offense (averaging 2.23 goals per game) against a rock-solid Chippewas' defense that leads the nation with 19 shutouts in 23 games.

    Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA round-of-32 for the 16th consecutive season with a 5-0 win over IUPUI in opening-round action on Friday night at Alumni Stadium. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson scored twice, while senior defender Haley Ford enjoyed a three-point night (G-A), and three Irish reserves notched either their first career goal or assist.

    Junior Nikki Weiss (three saves) and senior Kelsey Lysander (two saves) split the shutout in the Notre Dame goal.

    Rankings

  • Notre Dame is ranked fifth in the NSCAA poll and fifth in the Soccer America poll.
  • Central Michigan is not ranked.
  • A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
    Notre Dame knew this season would be a challenging one, especially with the loss of six talented seniors, including four who went in the first 21 picks of the 2009 WPS Draft. But even Nostradamus couldn't have predicted the hurdles the Irish have encountered this year.

    Injuries have been the primary albatross for Notre Dame this season, with senior midfielder/tri-captain Courtney Rosen (broken foot), senior midfielder Micaela Alvarez (torn ACL) and freshman forward Tereza Stastny (torn ACL) all likely sidelined for the year -- Rosen's injury occurred in the preseason. Add to that extended downtime for senior forward Michele Weissenhofer (hamstring), senior center back Haley Ford (hamstring) and freshman left back Jazmin Hall (quad), and you can understand why Irish trainer Dave Ludwig has more than earned his paycheck in 2009.

    Notre Dame also battled through a brutal non-conference schedule that included top-three opponents North Carolina and Stanford, perennial power Santa Clara and up-and-coming programs Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. However, following a 3-3-0 start, the Irish have been among the nation's hottest teams, going unbeaten in their last 16 outings (15-0-1), outscoring the opposition 41-6 in that span, while locking up their 12th BIG EAST regular season title and 11th BIG EAST postseason crown.

    Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (13G-4A) leads Notre Dame in scoring, while junior forward Lauren Fowlkes (10G-3A) is enjoying a breakout season, fueled in part by her move to the front line at the start of the current unbeaten streak. Junior forward Taylor Knaack (6G-4A) and junior midfielder Rose Augustin (5G-9A) also have played a significant role in the recent Irish resurgence, as has junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (11-1-1, 0.50 GAA, 5 ShO).

    Scouting The Chippewas
    Central Michigan carries a 17-3-3 record into Sunday's matchup with the Irish. Most recently, the Chippewas defeated No. 24 Purdue, 2-0, in the first NCAA tournament match in program history at Alumni Stadium on Friday night.

    CMU scored in the final minute of the first half, as Autumn Hawkins fired a shot that Purdue goalkeeper Jenny Bradfisch punched out of play, leading to a Chippewa corner kick. Claire Horton then swerved the corner kick toward the goal, forcing Bradfisch to punch the ball, but it wound up deflecting into the net for an own goal to put the MAC champions up, 1-0, with 13 seconds left in the first half.

    Central took command of the match when it went ahead 2-0 after Liesel Toth converted a penalty kick in the 55th minute, beating a diving Bradfisch to the goalkeeper's right.

    CMU junior goalkeeper Shay Mannino stopped all six shots she faced for her 17th solo shutout this season and the 29th of her career.

    Post Game Notes (from CMU SID Chad Twaro): The 2-0 win over Purdue marked the first time the Chippewas scored more than one goal in a game since Oct. 9 ... CMU posted its nation-leading 19th shutout this season ... it was the first NCAA tournament win by a Mid-American Conference team since Western Michigan defeated Illinois in 2003.

    The Notre Dame-Central Michigan Series
    Sunday afternoon will mark the first-ever meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Chippewas.

    Against the current Mid-American Conference alignment, Notre Dame owns a 5-0 record, including a 2-0 mark versus Western Michigan and 1-0 marks against Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green and Toledo.

    The Irish last played a MAC team in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament, defeating Toledo by a score of 5-2 on Nov. 14 at the old Alumni Field. Rose Augustin had two goals in that contest, while Melissa Henderson and Erica Iantorno each netted one. Michele Weissenhofer, Courtney Barg and Taylor Knaack all recorded assists in the win as well.

    First Time Visitors
    Though Central Michigan claimed a 2-0 win versus Purdue on Friday, it will be playing the Irish on their home pitch for the first time on Sunday afternoon.

    Since 1993, Notre Dame owns a 51-4-1 (.920) record against new visitors to campus, including four wins last year at old Alumni Field -- Loyola Marymount, South Florida, Toledo (NCAA first round) and Florida State (NCAA quarterfinals), as well as Friday night's 5-0 win over IUPUI at Alumni Stadium.

    NCAA Championship Quick Kicks

  • Notre Dame is competing in the NCAA Championship for the 17th consecutive year, the second-longest active streak of consecutive berths, trailing only North Carolina (28) in that category.
  • Notre Dame has a 50-14-1 all-time record (.777) in NCAA tournament play, including 40-3-0 (.930) in NCAA games played at home.
  • Notre Dame and UNC remain the only teams to have reached the final-32 or further in every NCAA Championship since 1993, and remain 1-2 in virtually all tournament appearance records in that time -- round-of-16 trips (UNC-16, ND-14, Portland-14), quarterfinals since 1994 (UNC-13, ND-12, Portland-12), College Cup berths since 1994 (UNC-12, ND-10) and title game appearances since 1994 (UNC-10, ND-7; no one else with more than three).
  • The Fighting Irish claimed NCAA titles in 1995 and 2004, joining UNC and Portland as the only repeat winners in the history of the tournament. Notre Dame also has finished as the NCAA runner-up five times (1994, 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2008) as part of its 10 NCAA College Cup berths (also semifinalist in 1997, 2000 and 2007), all since 1994.
  • Irish Against The 2009 NCAA Field
    Notre Dame owns an 8-3-0 record this season versus teams in the 2009 NCAA field, posting wins at West Virginia (3-2 OT) and Rutgers (1-0), as well as home victories over Wisconsin (3-0), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3-0) and Villanova (2-0).

    The Fighting Irish also collected neutral-site wins over St. John's (2-1 OT) and Marquette (2-1) in the BIG EAST Championship at Storrs, Conn., while all three losses came in the opening month of the season -- home vs. North Carolina (6-0), at Santa Clara (2-0) and at a neutral site vs. Stanford (2-0) -- with two of those clubs (UNC and Stanford) earning No. 1 seeds in this year's NCAA Championship.

    16 And Counting...
    Since starting the season with a 3-3 record, the Irish have gone unbeaten in their last 16 games (15-0-1) dating back to a 4-0 win over DePaul on Sept. 18.

    The streak is the fourth-longest in Division I (through Nov. 13) and Notre Dame's lone tie in that stretch came at Pittsburgh when the Panthers and Irish played to a 0-0 stalemate on Oct. 4. During the 16-game unbeaten streak (which includes an active 10-game winning streak), the Irish have logged a 41-6 scoring margin and have shut out their opponents on 11 occasions.

    Senior Moments
    The 2009 Irish senior class is second only to North Carolina as the most successful group in the country on the basis of wins, with a four-year record to date of 88-10-4 (.882) that includes three consecutive trips to the NCAA College Cup and appearances in the 2006 and 2008 national title games.

    The .882 winning percentage compiled by the Notre Dame seniors also is second best on the national scene behind North Carolina.

    Game #22 Recap: IUPUI
    Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson scored twice, including her 30th career goal, while senior defender Haley Ford added a goal and an assist, as fifth-ranked Notre Dame kicked off the 2009 NCAA Championship with a 5-0 win over Summit League champion IUPUI on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.

    Rachel VanderGenugten scored the pivotal third goal of the night for Notre Dame with less than two minutes to go in the first half, registering her first career score in the process. Lindsay Brown then assisted on Henderson's second goal of the night to pick up her first career point, before Brynn Gerstle did the same when she set up an 86th-minute goal from Ellen Jantsch.

    Junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss went the first 65 minutes between the pipes for Notre Dame, making three saves before giving way to Kelsey Lysander, who stopped two shots to preserve the 14th Fighting Irish shutout of the season, and eighth in the past 11 games.

    As a team, Notre Dame outshot IUPUI, 26-11, including a 14-5 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also edged the Jaguars in the corner kick column, 5-4, and were charged with 16 of the 21 fouls in the contest.

    Noting The IUPUI Win

  • Notre Dame scored five goals in its NCAA opener for the second consecutive season, having ousted Toledo, 5-2 at old Alumni Field to begin last year's tournament.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, a Fighting Irish player scored at least two goals in Notre Dame's NCAA Championship first-round win, with Henderson doing the honors this year; previous players to accomplish that feat were: Amanda Cinalli (2005 vs. Valparaiso), Kerri Hanks (2006 hat trick vs. Oakland), Brittany Bock (2007 vs. Loyola-Chicago) and current Irish junior midfielder Rose Augustin (2008 vs. Toledo).
  • For the second time in as many NCAA Championship home games, a Notre Dame player scored her first career goal, as VanderGenugten found the back of the net for the first time on Friday night; current Irish sophomore defender/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller scored her first career goal in the 19th minute of last year's 2-0 NCAA quarterfinal win over sixth-ranked Florida State at old Alumni Field.
  • VanderGenugten is the 13th different Notre Dame player to score a goal this season, while the first career assists by Brown and Gerstle give the Fighting Irish 18 separate point scorers this year.
  • Ford registered her second career multi-point game, having also logged a three-point night (G-A) last season at Cincinnati (Sept. 28, 2008).
  • Captain Clutch
    Sophomore co-captain and 2009 BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Defensive Player Jessica Schuveiller scored the golden goal against St. John's on Nov. 6 to send the Irish to their sixth consecutive BIG EAST title game. She now has three career goals, with each goal proving to be a game-winning strike. Additionally, two of her game-winners have come in postseason play.

    Schuveiller, who has started all 48 games of her Irish career, netted her first collegiate goal last season in Notre Dame's 2-0 NCAA quarterfinal win over Florida State. Then, in 2009 regular season action, she scored a late game winner with 8:08 remaining to propel Notre Dame past Cincinnati, 2-1, on Sept. 25.

    Henderson Heroics
    With two goals in Notre Dame's NCAA first round win over IUPUI, Melissa Henderson notched her third two-goal game of the season and scored the 30th goal of her Irish career (in just her 47th collegiate game). Notre Dame is 21-0 all-time when Henderson scores a goal (9-0 this year) and 24-0 all-time when she tallies a point (10-0 this year). She also scored her seventh game-winning goal of the season, putting her one away from the single-season school record jointly held by Michelle McCarthy (1994) and Katie Thorlakson (2004).

    The two goals versus IUPUI marked Henderson's second consecutive home game with at least two goals, having notched a hat trick against South Florida in a 5-0 BIG EAST quarterfinal win on Nov. 1. It marked Notre Dame's 10th postseason hat trick in program history, and the first since Nov. 24, 2006, when current Fighting Irish senior forward/tri-captain Michele Weissenhofer had three goals in a 4-0 NCAA quarterfinal win over eighth-ranked Penn State at old Alumni Field.

    It also marked the first Notre Dame hat trick in the BIG EAST Championship in almost five years (Oct. 31, 2004 - Katie Thorlakson four goals in a 7-0 quarterfinal victory over St. John's at Alumni Field), and just the third in the program's 15-year conference affiliation (Anne Makinen also pulled off the feat in the 1997 BIG EAST final vs. fourth-ranked Connecticut in Piscataway, N.J.).

    Beasts Of The BIG EAST
    With a 2-1 win over Marquette in the BIG EAST championship match on Nov. 8, Notre Dame now owns an NCAA Division I-record 66-game unbeaten streak (63-0-3) against BIG EAST opposition, dating back to a 4-1 loss at No. 15 Marquette on Sept. 30, 2005. In that time, the only ties were a 0-0 draw at Connecticut (Oct. 13, 2006), a 1-1 deadlock at No. 12 West Virginia in the 2007 BIG EAST final on Nov. 11 (WVU won 5-3 on PKs, but the game is recorded as a tie) and a 0-0 tie at Pittsburgh on Oct. 4, 2009.

    Since joining the BIG EAST, the Irish are 134-8-5 (.928) all-time in regular-season conference games, 35-2-1 (.934) in the BIG EAST Championship, and hold a 713-85 scoring edge dating back to that first league season in '95.

    What's more, Notre Dame maintains a 14-year, 94-game home unbeaten streak (93-0-1) versus BIG EAST teams, with Connecticut the lone conference team ever to defeat the Irish at home (5-4 in OT on Oct. 6, 1995 at old Alumni Field).

    Golden Domers Golden In OT
    Overtime has usually been the right time for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish are 20-3-9 (.766) all-time in the Randy Waldrum era (since '99) when going to an extra period or two, including a current seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) dating back to the 2007 season.

    Notre Dame went to overtime in back-to-back contests in early October. On Oct. 2 at West Virginia, Taylor Knaack scored 41 seconds into the first extra period to give the Fighting Irish a 3-2 victory over the Mountaineers. It was the fastest OT goal in Waldrum's 11-year tenure, and it's also believed to be the quickest overtime score in the program's 22-year history.

    Two days later, Notre Dame went to double overtime at Pittsburgh and wound up finishing in a 0-0 tie. It was only the eighth scoreless draw in school history and the first since Aug. 31, 2007 vs. Michigan at old Alumni Field. It also was the first time the Fighting Irish played a 0-0 contest in BIG EAST play since Oct. 13, 2006 at Connecticut.

    Most recently, Jessica Schuveiller scored the golden goal against St. John's in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on Nov. 6 to send the Irish to the conference title match for the sixth consecutive season.

    BIG EAST Awards Recap
    Notre Dame earned two of the six major individual awards and placed five players on All-BIG EAST conference teams during the annual BIG EAST women's soccer banquet at the Hartford Hilton on Nov. 5. Junior forward Lauren Fowlkes earned BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors while sophomore Courtney Barg was named the conference's Midfielder of the Year.

    Fowlkes and Barg were also named to the All-BIG EAST First Team and were joined on that squad by sophomore defender Jessica Schuveiller. Junior midfielder Rose Augustin and sophomore forward Melissa Henderson were All-BIG EAST Second Team selections.

    Fowlkes follows in a long and distinguished tradition of Notre Dame players who have captured BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year laurels. Combined with Kerri Hanks (who earned the award in 2006 and 2008 en route to collecting the MAC Hermann Trophy both seasons), Brittany Bock (2007) and Katie Thorlakson (2004 and 2005), Fowlkes is the sixth consecutive Fighting Irish player to take home the hardware.

    Barg became Notre Dame's first recipient of the conference's midfielder of the year honor since Jen Buczkowski earned the award as a junior in 2005 and just the third all-time (also Anne Makinen in 2000). Furthermore, Barg is the first sophomore to earn the honor since 2001, when Boston College's Sarah Rahko won it.

    It's Academic For This Irish Duo
    Two Notre Dame players and Kansas City-area natives -- junior forward Lauren Fowlkes and sophomore defender Molly Campbell -- have been named ESPN The Magazine first-team Academic All-District V selections, it was announced Oct. 29 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

    Both student-athletes are first-time academic all-district honorees and now will advance to the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration (national teams to be announced next week). The Notre Dame women's soccer program has produced 22 Academic All-Americans, while its 14 selections since 2002 are the most in the nation (2002 was when women's soccer earned its own ballot separate from the at-large category).

    Fowlkes has blossomed as a primary offensive threat for Notre Dame, appearing in all 21 games and starting 19 times after moving back to the forward line three weeks into the season (a position she initially started at in her college career, before moving to holding midfielder and central defender last season and earlier this year).

    Fowlkes currently is enrolled in the College of Science, where she has compiled a 3.657 cumulative GPA as a science-business major and was named to the dean's list in the fall of 2007 (3.804 semester GPA).

    Campbell is one of the more improved players on the Notre Dame roster this season, having seen time primarily at left back, a position she had almost never played prior to the spring of 2009. Mixed with her stints as an attacking midfielder, she has started all 21 games for the Fighting Irish this year.

    Campbell is presently studying in the College of Arts and Letters, where she has recorded a 3.667 cumulative GPA as a double major in psychology and American studies.

    Taylor Made For Goal Scoring
    Junior forward/midfielder Taylor Knaack has had a breakout year for the Irish, scoring six goals and adding four assists. She had a career-high five-point night in Notre Dame's 6-1 defeat of UConn on Oct. 16.

    Entering the year, Knaack had five goals and two assists in 27 games played.

    Nikki In The Irish Net
    Junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss has helped lead the Irish over the past 11 games as the Redding, Conn. native has posted seven shutouts (five solo) and a 10-0-1 record in that span.

    The impressive stretch began when Weiss earned her first career solo clean sheet on Oct. 4 at Pittsburgh (a 0-0 double-overtime tie), and followed with shutouts versus No. 10/12 Rutgers and Seton Hall. In the Rutgers match, she turned in a career high six saves. She then played the first 82:00 in Notre Dame's 6-1 win over Connecticut, with her personal 377:25 scoreless streak coming to an end in the second half (the scoreless streak had started at Santa Clara on Sept. 11). Weiss blanked Providence and Villanova, 2-0, on Oct. 18 and 23 for her fourth and fifth solo shutouts of the year.

    Clean Sheets
    In a unique twist, 17 of Notre Dame's 22 games this season have been decided by shutout (13 for the Fighting Irish, three for the opposition and one scoreless draw). During Notre Dame's current 16-game unbeaten streak (15-0-1), 10 of the 15 Irish wins were shutout victories, while the tie was also a 0-0 draw (at Pittsburgh on Oct. 4).

    Junior Nikki Weiss has posted five solo shutouts in Notre Dame's last 10 games, while she shared shutout wins over Georgetown and IUPUI with senior Kelsey Lysander and then shared the shutout over South Florida with Lysander and Maddie Fox. Lysander also has three solo shutouts on the year.

    The 2-0 Guarantee
    Notre Dame is 314-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead and is unbeaten in its past 291 contests when going ahead 2-0 (dating back to a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati).

    In fact, just two of the past 197 Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have forced a tie, something achieved by four opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (Irish won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at 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 Alumni Field (Irish won 3-2), and most recently, Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (Irish 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 285-3-1 (.988) record in those games, including a 187-1-0 (.995) mark since Oct. 6, 1995. The Irish also are 388-9-15 (.960) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals.

    Our Fearless Leader
    Eleventh-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum reached another milestone with Notre Dame's 2-1 win over Cincinnati on Sept. 25, recording the 400th win of his NCAA Div. I coaching career (counting his stints with both men's and women's college teams during the past 28 seasons).

    Waldrum is also one of eight active women's Division I head coaches to record 300 career wins. He now has a record of 336-83-21 (.789) in 20 seasons (including six at Tulsa and three at Baylor). His winning percentage ranks fourth among active coaches, while his 336 wins are fifth on the NCAA Division I career list.

    Pick Three For The Hermann Watch
    Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson, junior defender/midfielder Lauren Fowlkes and senior midfielder Courtney Rosen have been named to the 45-player watch list for the 2009 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, it was announced by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

    The Hermann Trophy is presented annually to the nation's top Division I women's soccer player, with Notre Dame's Kerri Hanks earning the prestigious crystal ball trophy last year. In the process, Hanks became the fourth Fighting Irish player to collect the award, not to mention just the fourth two-time Hermann Trophy honoree since the award debuted in 1988, as well as the first two-time national player of the year (in any sport) in the 122-year history of Notre Dame athletics.

    Your 2009 Captains
    The 2009 Notre Dame squad features three first-time captains, with seniors Michele Weissenhofer and Courtney Rosen and sophomore Jessica Schuveiller all selected via a vote of their teammates.

    Schuveiller's selection is noteworthy, in that she is the first non-senior to serve as a team captain since Amy Warner was one of Notre Dame's three captains in 2002 (her junior season). This year's triumvirate also marks the first time since 2004 (Mary Boland, Gudrun Gunnarsdottir and Melissa Tancredi) that the Irish have named three captains.

    The M*A*S*H Unit
    Senior midfielder/tri-captain Courtney Rosen is out indefinitely after breaking her left foot during preseason training. Rosen underwent successful corrective surgery on Aug. 13 and is in the midst of rehabilitating her injury.

    Freshman forward Tereza Stastny and senior midfielder Micaela Alvarez are out for the season with torn ACLs. Stastny's injury (right knee) on Oct. 13, and Alvarez's (left knee) one week later were suffered during training.

    Our New Digs
    Located just east of the Joyce Center and approximately 500 yards west of its predecessor, Alumni Stadium is the new home for Notre Dame soccer, having opened its doors Sept. 4 to an overflow crowd of 3,007 for its debut match against top-ranked North Carolina (the Irish men played three nights earlier, blanking Michigan, 5-0).

    A state-of-the-art facility built at a cost of $5.7 million, Alumni Stadium has a permanent seating capacity of approximately 2,500 fans, along with grass berm seating on the east end of the grounds. The stadium also offers upgraded and expanded restroom and concession areas, elevator access to the main concourse level, as well as numerous amenities for both Fighting Irish soccer programs (expansive locker rooms with custom-made wood lockers, spacious team lounges with flat-screen plasma TVs and high-speed Internet access, and a fully-equipped athletic training center).

    What's more, Alumni Stadium features an LED scoreboard (installed by industry leader Daktronics), enhanced lighting structures and top-of-the-line sod for the pitch (cultivated in Fort Morgan, Colo., at Graff's Turf Farms, which also has provided the turf for numerous facilities including Notre Dame Stadium, Wrigley Field, Busch Stadium and the new MLS grounds outside Denver and Salt Lake City).

    In addition, media members will enjoy the spacious new air-conditioned press box, which includes power and high-speed Internet portals at every seat (along with wireless Internet capability), three individually-wired broadcast booths and an expansive, unblocked midfield vantage point, all of which make Alumni Stadium unlike any other on-campus facility in college soccer.

    The construction of Alumni Stadium was made possible because of numerous generous donations, including those by lead benefactors Tom Crotty and Rob Snyder, both former Fighting Irish men's soccer players.

    Crotty was a three-year monogram winner from 1977-79, earning team MVP honors in 1979 before graduating the following spring with a degree in finance. He currently is general partner at Battery Ventures LP in Wellesley, Mass., while he and his wife, Shari, live in Southborough, Mass.

    Snyder earned two monograms from 1980-83, piling up 23 goals and 22 assists (the latter figure ranking seventh in school history). He also potted a team-high 12 goals in 1981. A 1984 graduate of Notre Dame, Snyder went on to become founder and CEO of Stream Energy in Dallas, Texas.

    Taking It To The Next Level
    Notre Dame had 10 players appearing on opening-day rosters for the inaugural season of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2009, ranking second among all colleges in that category. Four of those 10 (all members of the '08 Fighting Irish NCAA runner-up squad) were selected in the league's first-ever college draft back in January -- Brittany Bock (first round, fifth overall, Los Angeles Sol), Kerri Hanks (first round, sixth overall, Saint Louis Athletica), Carrie Dew (second round, 12th overall, FC Gold Pride) and Elise Weber (third round, 21st overall, Saint Louis Athletica).

    That quartet was joined by: Shannon Boxx (Los Angeles Sol), Jen Buczkowski and Christie Shaner (Sky Blue FC), Candace Chapman (Boston Breakers), and Amanda Cinalli and Melissa Tancredi (Saint Louis Athletica).

    In addition, Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf was assigned to the Chicago Red Stars as part of the U.S. National Team draft, but sat out the '09 season while on maternity leave (she gave birth to twins in June). Kelly Lindsey began the season as an assistant coach at Sky Blue FC, then took over as interim head coach at midseason before resigning late in the year.

    Midseason trades saw Hanks sent to Sky Blue FC, while Shaner went out to Los Angeles. Shaner subsequently was sidelined for the season with a broken leg.

    Of the 10 active Notre Dame alums in WPS, eight saw their teams advance to the league playoffs (all but Chapman and Dew). Led by arguably the world's top defensive midfielder in Boxx and one of WPS' top rookies in Bock (who played center back after never playing that position at Notre Dame), Los Angeles won the regular season title and the right to host the first-ever WPS Championship Game.

    In the end, five Fighting Irish alums (tying North Carolina for the most representatives from one college) worked their way into the WPS final -- Bock, Boxx and Shaner for L.A., along with Hanks and Buczkowski for Sky Blue FC. The New Jersey-based club then capped an amazing string of three playoff road wins in eight days with a 1-0 upset of Los Angeles to win the inaugural WPS Championship.

    Boxx was subsequently named a starter for the first WPS All-Star Game, which took place at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in suburban St. Louis on Aug. 30.

    On Sept. 16, Buczkowski was chosen by the Philadelphia Independence with the third overall pick in the 2009 WPS Expansion Draft, with Cinalli going one selection later to the Atlanta Beat.

    Offseason personnel moves at the end of September have seen Chapman released by Boston (then signed by FC Gold Pride) and Shaner released by Los Angeles, while Tancredi was declared a free agent by Saint Louis.

    -- ND --
     

     

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