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ND Women’s Soccer: Squad earns NCAA bid

Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No. 20 Notre Dame earned a berth in the NCAA championship for the 20th consecutive season Monday. 

The Irish (13-5-2, 8-1-1 Big East) will begin their quest for the program’s fourth national championship Friday at Alumni Stadium against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

After falling to Marquette in the Big East semifinals on Friday, Notre Dame had to rely on an at-large bid. The Panthers (8-8-1, 5-2 Horizon) earned an automatic berth by winning a school-record fifth-straight Horizon League championship. Both teams are unseeded, as the new NCAA championship format only assigns seeds to the top four teams in each of the bracket’s four quadrants.

The Irish will enter Friday’s match boasting a trio of Big East All-Rookie Team members. Defender Katie Naughton, forward Cari Roccaro and forward Crystal Thomas all made the team. Roccaro also earned the Big East Rookie of the Year award, Notre Dame’s first since forward Melissa Henderson took home the award in 2008.

Should they advance, the Irish will face the winner of Saturday’s match between Georgia Southern and No. 16 Wake Forest.

Notre Dame will host the Panthers at 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Stadium.