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Sports

Wingate propels Irish to fast start

| Thursday, September 6, 2018

Olivia Wingate has burst onto the scene as an integral part of the No. 17 Notre Dame (4-2) offense.

The freshman forward has already found the back of the net twice, making her tied for first among Irish goalscorers.

Ian Groover | The Observer

Irish freshman Olivia Wingate high fives a teammate on Aug. 30 at Alumni Stadium.

Both of those goals have come in the last three games.

Wingate has also fired off the third-most shots on the team with 16. Those shots have not been wasted; 50 percent of her scoring attempts have been on goal. Those eight shots on goal put Wingate in the lead among her team.

“She’s been fantastic,” head coach Nate Norman said. “She was a player we knew was very talented.”

Wingate was sidelined due to a knee injury during her senior year of high school. This injury means part of the goal of Wingate’s season has been transitioning back to soccer. Norman said he has been very pleased already with the way he has seen Wingate bounce back.

“She’s just now getting her rhythm back and her timing,” he said. “I don’t even think we’ve seen anything close to the best of her yet. We’re very excited to see her develop and get back into her normal self as the season goes on.”

Norman has been impressed with Wingate’s dedication, citing it as one of her strongest qualities as a player.

“Just [with] her general athleticism and mentality, she’s just a tireless worker,” he said. “She’s fast, she’s strong and she makes runs that put a ton of pressure on the back line … We just want to see her keep growing and improving her game.”

Wingate will be needed to make an offensive impact this weekend. The Irish will be traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area to face two national powerhouses: No. 12 Santa Clara (4-1) and No. 1 Stanford, the defending national champions.

While the games will pose serious challenges for the Irish, Norman is hoping to see Wingate provide a serious spark to the offense in both of them.

“She can put a lot of pressure on their back line as a forward,” he said. “That can break up their rhythm very quickly. Being able to hold the ball when we’re transitioning and being able to make dynamic runs to get behind them, because they do leave themselves exposed at times.”

With Wingate’s form playing a key role in the Notre Dame attack this weekend, Norman said  opposing defenses will have to work a little bit harder.

“She just gives us that natural player to really stretch them out,” he said.

Notre Dame will need Wingate’s recent offensive attack this weekend against the Cardinals (5-0), who have only given up two goals through five games. Similarly, the Broncos had only allowed two goals through four games. However, their first loss of the season came at the hands of No. 7 Texas A&M, who netted four goals while holding the Broncos scoreless. Santa Clara will face No. 4 North Carolina before they take on the Irish.

Following their weekend in California, the team will return to Alumni Stadium to take on North Carolina State as they begin their ACC regular-season play.

Notre Dame returns to action this Friday with a 9 p.m. matchup against Stanford at Cagan Stadium in Palo Alto, California. The Irish will complete their road trip as they head east for a game Sunday against Santa Monica. Kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

 

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