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Sports

Jacobs breaks out early for Irish

| Tuesday, September 8, 2015

For most students, college is a new experience. For student athletes, it’s a whole different game. The game is faster and players are bigger and tougher. Most freshmen need an adjustment period. Not freshman forward Natalie Jacobs.

Jacobs had an impressive resume heading into her first year. She was ranked the sixth-best high school recruit by the IMG Academy and has seen extensive playing time with the U.S. Women’s National Team as a member of the U-14, U-17, U-18 and U-20 squads. Jacobs said her experience has helped ease her transition into the college-level game.

“[International] games are really important because they bring out a lot,” Jacobs said. “They show you every different kind of situation that I would be in.

“Going through all the different times with that team and the nerves with that help me throughout anything that I go through because of the experiences that that brought.”

As a highly-ranked recruit, Jacobs had multiple options when deciding on where to take her talents. However, Jacobs said the complete package Notre Dame represented was what brought her to South Bend.

“There’s so many cool aspects of [Notre Dame],” Jacobs said. “Definitely the soccer is top-notch and it’s a great program.

“And then academically it’s a great school as well, so I wanted that. Also a thing that really stood out to me was the religious part of it, how it’s a great place for that. So it’s all those things combined, I think, that really make it such a cool place.”

Irish freshman forward Natalie Jacobs dribbles past a defender in Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium.MICHAEL YU

Irish freshman forward Natalie Jacobs dribbles past a defender in Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium.

As Jacobs has begun to find her niche on campus, the numbers certainly indicate that she has found her place on the field. Through just six games, Jacobs leads the No. 13 Irish with four assists and finds herself with two goals, just shy of lead scorer senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson.

Those are not the statistics of a freshman looking to find her way, but rather those of a major contributor to a top ten program.

The modest Jacobs said she is not willing to take all the credit, saying her teammates have helped her elevate her own game.

“I think a lot of [the success] is the people that I’m playing with,” Jacobs said. “Having a great defense that … hardly allows any goals really takes the pressure off the people up front, allowing more opportunity for us. And then having such great players around me for me to play with definitely helps a ton in all these games.”

Off the field, Jacobs said her teammates continue to support her in the locker room and beyond. The atmosphere in the locker room is just another component that Jacobs said has made Notre Dame special to her.

“It’s an awesome environment,” Jacobs said. Everyone’s so friendly, you can kind of pump each other up before games, but with all that it definitely has a serious tone because each game we’re trying to get something done.”

And while Jacob thrives on the support from her teammates and the atmosphere they foster, Jacobs said she still criticizes her own play to constantly find ways to grow her game.

“I can improve in every area,” Jacobs said. “Keep working on every part of each day try to improve in my shots and the way I’m playing.

“I think in every category, I can always get better.”

Jacobs will continue to help the Irish through their 2015 schedule, starting with Indiana on Friday at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m. Jacobs and the Irish take on their first ACC competitor Clemson on Sept. 19 at Riggs Field in Clemson, South Carolina at 7 p.m.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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