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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish enter NCAA tournament as No. 2 seed; will play Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Friday

| Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Notre Dame ensured home advantage for the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament by earning a No. 2 seed for the competition.

The Irish (13-3-4, 7-1-2 ACC) will open the competition against Ohio Valley Conference champion Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). The game will be played on Friday evening at Alumni Stadium. Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said she can’t be sure yet of what to expect from the Cougars (10-7-4, 6-3-1 Ohio Valley), but she added if her team focuses on themselves they should fare well.

Irish junior Kaitlin Klawunder makes a pass during Notre Dame's 1-0 victory over Missouri on Sept. 4 at Alumni Stadium Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish junior Kaitlin Klawunder makes a pass during Notre Dame’s 1-0 victory over Missouri on Sept. 4 at Alumni Stadium

“I haven’t had a chance to look at [SIUE],” Romagnolo said. “We’re just going to try and get some info on them and figure that out tomorrow, but I think we’re focused on ourselves and continuing to grow and develop at this point in the season. I think we’re excited about where we’re at and I’m just hoping we can improve upon the little details and step on the field Friday as the best version of ourselves.”

Should they win, the Irish will go on to face either Kent State or Northwestern, with the Irish having already tied the latter in a preseason exhibition game. The first seeded team that could await the Irish is third-seeded Duke. Notre Dame did not play the Blue Devils in conference play this year, but the two teams contested for the ACC regular season title, with Duke finishing third and the Irish first. Another potential option in the first three rounds is Michigan, who defeated the Irish, 2-0, in Ann Arbor in August.

The top seed in Notre Dame’s region is West Virginia, who boast the best record in college soccer this season at 19-1-1. If the Irish can advance past Duke, they are likely to play Mountaineers in Morgantown, provided the top seed advances past No. 4 UCLA and into the quarterfinals themselves. However, Romagnolo said later-round games aren’t worth thinking about until the Irish know if they’ll be playing them.

“Those are many games away,” Romagnolo said. “The NCAA tournament is about winning many games at a time, so right now it’s about beating SIUE and making sure we put forth our best performance.”

“You can’t get ahead of yourself.  Everyone’s good, everyone’s up for every game. You’ve got to concentrate on being your best each day.”

The second seed is the highest the Irish have been awarded since 2009, when they achieved the same seeding. That year the Irish made it to the College Cup semifinals after beating Florida State, but lost to North Carolina.

Romagnolo said she tried not to think too much about her team getting the second seed.

“I thought it was possible,” Romagnolo said. “I try not to read too much into it or think too much about it because it’s out of our control. We do the work up to that point and then at the end of the day it’s up to the committee. So I thought it was possible, I think it’s a great reward for the body of work that we put in at the regular season. But now at this point there’s all good teams in the tournament, so you’ve got to be up for every game and be ready to put forth your best effort.”

The Irish and the Cougars kick off at Alumni Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel