ND Women’s Soccer
Romagnolo makes ND debut
Renee Griffin | Thursday, August 21, 2014
The No. 16 Irish will play their home opener against Oakland on Sunday at Alumni Stadium, following their first game of the regular season Friday against Illinois in Champaign, Ill.
Expectations are high in 2014, as the team finished 13-8-1 last year and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive season. In two preseason exhibition games, Notre Dame defeated Illinois State, 4-0, and tied Northwestern, 2-2.
“This team is accustomed to being ranked,” Notre Dame coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “The goal is always to finish high.”
However, competing in the stacked ACC, the schedule for the upcoming season should present many challenges for the team. Notre Dame, ranked No. 6 in the conference’s preseason poll, is one of eight ACC teams in the preseason NSCAA top 25 poll.
The Irish return several leaders, including seven of 11 starters from last season. Among them two junior captains – midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro and defender Katie Naughton, who both played on the U.S. Under-20 National Team this summer at the 2014 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Notre Dame also brings back last season’s ACC Freshman of the Year, midfielder Morgan Andrews.
“I think we’ve got a great squad, a lot of returning players and 11 freshmen who are making a case for themselves as well,” Romagnolo said. “I’m interested to see who starts to emerge as impact players, both starters and players off the bench. I think there’s a lot of depth and a lot of talent this year.”
Romagnolo said she is pleased with the team’s level of preparation going into the fall.
“I think we’re doing a lot of things really well for this early in the season,” Romagnolo said. “Some of the things that they’ve been focusing on as a team have been improving on defense, trying to get a shutout every game that we play. Offensively, we’ve been working a lot on winning those one-on-ones.”
Oakland is unranked, but Romagnolo said that at this point, Notre Dame is concentrating more on its own readiness than the strength of its opponent.
“It’s opening weekend, everyone’s still figuring out their own team, so for us it’ll be about what we do and what kind of mentality we bring to the game,” Romagnolo said. “It’ll be about being in front of our home crowd, being aggressive on offense and playing good defense.”
With most of the university’s upperclassmen returning to campus the same day the Irish face the Grizzlies, Romagnolo said she is optimistic a good turnout will give the team an edge, she said.
“Any time you’re at home, there’s more excitement,” Romagnolo said. “We’ve got a great stadium at Alumni, so hopefully we have a lot of fans come out to see us play.”
Notre Dame will face Illinois at the Illinois Soccer Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Friday at 1 p.m. and take on Oakland at Alumni Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.