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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: New Kids on the Block

Mike Gilloon | Thursday, August 18, 2005

Brittany Bock, Carrie Dew and Kerri Ingliss are not your typical freshmen. Though they have the usual first-year worries regarding roommates and classes, they also have a special challenge – live up to the expectations that come with being freshmen on the pre-season number-one ranked and defending national champion Irish women’s soccer team. Along with Rebecca Mendoza, who arrives Wednesday from a summer spent training with the Mexican national team, the girls make up arguably the strongest freshman class of any sport on campus right now. Though nine starters return for the defending national champion Irish, these four are expected to make major contributions to the team this fall. Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum raved about the combination of talent, experience and smarts that make this group of newcomers so special. “They came prepared to play,” Waldrum said. “They look like veteran players, they don’t look like freshmen. So that’s the good sign.”The highest expectations belong to Bock, who was rated the number one player in the world in her age group by womensworldfootball.com. The friendly, 5’6” phenom is capable of playing anywhere on the field, according to Waldrum. She is so talented she skipped her junior year of high school soccer to play with the Chicago Magic, the number-one rated under-18 boys team in the nation. In 2003 her Team Illinois club won the Olympic Development Program (ODP) national title, and she was the youngest player invited to the under-19 U.S. National Team camp last year. It’s preparation of this sort that made the Naperville, Ill., native one of the most heavily recruited players in the country last year. But when it came time to pick one school, Notre Dame stood out for more than just the stellar soccer program. “It just feels so perfect to me,” Bock said. “I couldn’t imagine going any other place. I fell in love with the campus, the team and the coaches. It’s great for my academics, and I like the fact that it’s close to home.”Dew and Inglis, both top players on the national club soccer scene themselves, agree with Bock’s rationale for coming to South Bend. Inglis, who drew recruiting interest from schools such as Stanford, Vanderbilt and Purdue, chose Notre Dame after starring for the Ft. Wayne Fever club along with her Snider High squad. “In my mind, nothing compares to Notre Dame,” Inglis said. “As soon as [Notre Dame] became an option, I was like ‘I’m not looking anywhere else.'”Dew’s quiet demeanor masks a competitive side that helped her standout while attending high school in Encinitas, Calif. She captained the San Diego Surf, the number-one girls club team in the nation along with winning the 2004 ODP national championship with the Southern California state team. The defender admires her new teammates for their physical talent but also for their positive attitude. She was excited, along with the Irish soccer faithful, after seeing Bock tack up two goals in her first collegiate scrimmage against Butler on Aug. 14. But she also sees a bright future for Inglis, who is currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, suffered on the first day of practice. “[Inglis has] kept a really positive attitude,” Dew said. “She’ll definitely be a huge part of the team. Doctors told Inglis she should be back in two to four weeks. But when asked about her personal timetable for a return, her response characterized her teammates eagerness to begin their promising careers at Notre Dame. “Hopefully it’s on the two end,” Inglis said.