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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish look forward to NCAA tournament run

| Friday, November 11, 2016

This Friday at Alumni Stadium, second-seeded Notre Dame will begin its quest to win the program’s fourth national championship as the NCAA tournament gets underway.

For the Irish (13-3-4, 7-1-2 ACC), this marks an impressive 24th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Soccer Championship. After a strong finish to their season, which saw them go home with the regular-season ACC title, the Irish suffered a disappointing defeat in the conference tournament semifinals at the hands of No. 1-seed North Carolina.

Irish sophomore defender Rachel Heard dribbles up the field  during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Virginia on Oct. 9.Grace Tourville | The Observer
Irish sophomore defender Rachel Heard dribbles up the field
during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Virginia on Oct. 9.

Despite the loss, Notre Dame still comes into the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed and will host Ohio Valley Conference champion SIU-Edwardsville (10-7-4, 6-3-1 OVC) as announced during the field of 64 selection by the Division I Women’s Soccer Committee.

SIUE entered its conference tournament as a No. 4 seed before upsetting both top-seeded Murray State and No. 2 Eastern Kentucky. The Cougars are making just their second appearance in the tournament — the first occurring back in 2014. The Cougars had previously made five appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament. The Irish and the Cougars have met once before in a match that ended in a 4-0 Irish victory back in 1991.

Friday’s matchup will take place at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium, and should it advance, Notre Dame will still be in line to have its second and third round matches on home turf as well.

Overall, the NCAA selection committee named seven ACC teams to be a part of this year’s tournament — the most teams from any conference. Fellow ACC foes No. 2-seed North Carolina, No. 3-seeds Clemson, Florida State, Virginia and Duke and unseeded North Carolina State comprise the remainder of the ACC tournament field. Only the Blue Devils sit in the same region as the Irish, with a potential Sweet 16 matchup awaiting the two teams.

Historically, Notre Dame has fared well in the NCAA tournament and have won three of the 29 NCAA national championships, the most recent coming in 2010. The team has made it to the NCAA semifinals 12 times total, with five of those coming in just the last decade.

If Notre Dame is able to make it out of its region, which includes the likes of not only Duke, but No. 1 West Virginia and No. 4 UCLA as well, the Irish will head out West as the semifinals and finals of the tournament will be held Dec. 2 and 4 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

The winner of Friday’s matchup between the Irish and the Cougars will take on the winner of Kent State and Northwestern, set to play Saturday at 4 p.m. Both teams have each had just two losses on the season with Kent State coming from the Mid-American Conference and Northwestern representing the Big-10.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m., as the Irish start on what they hope to be the road to the championship.

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