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Olivia Wingate prepared to lead undefeated Irish into conference play

Graduate student forward Olivia Wingate has been a huge part of the undefeated women’s soccer team this season, as she is leading the team with six goals.

Wingate reflected on her first season at Notre Dame when she had to adjust to playing soccer at the college level.

“When I came in, I was injured at first. I wasn’t really playing as well as I wanted to,” Wingate said. “I had to deal with coming from club teams and high school teams where I played really well, and I was a star player. Coming into a new environment and having to work your way up in the ranks and prove yourself everyday was something new.”

Wingate learned a lot of valuable lessons from her early seasons with the Irish.

“I grew in my attitude and mentality at tackling that everyday pressure and challenge to prove myself,” Wingate said.

Wingate feels that she has grown off the field as well during her time at Notre Dame.

“Off the field, I have grown a lot in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. With academics, it is a really hard and rigorous curriculum and adding being a student-athlete is really hard,” Wingate said. “I really grew in time management and my leadership abilities and being able to handle my academics as well as athletic pressures.”

Wingate shared that one of her favorite players growing up was Mia Hamm because of her prominence in the women’s game, and the position that she played.

“When I was little, I really loved Mia Hamm,” Wingate said. “I am a number nine so I took all that in when I was younger.”

Wingate has idolized Christen Press in the present day.

“I really enjoy Christen Press and her style of play. Obviously she’s still playing, and it’s fun to see her continue to do super well, so I love watching her as well,” Wingate said.

There have been plenty of influential players during her time at Notre Dame, but Wingate shared that 2019 graduate Sabrina Flores was especially influential to her.

“[Sabrina] is the sweetest person you will ever meet and truly dedicated to working harder than anyone else in the room wherever she is. She is super competitive, but she is also super level-headed. You never saw her get angry or mad at people; she was able to hold herself to a very high standard,” Wingate said.

Wingate also praised head coach Nate Norman for his role in helping her develop as a soccer player and person.

“Nate has also been a huge role model for me as well, and he is obviously a great mentor and friend,” Wingate said. “Over our years here, our relationship has gotten a lot stronger, and I am able to go to him with any questions I have. I know that he is going to give me honest feedback and pointers and any help that I can get.”

Wingate praised the rest of the coaching staff as well.

“They are super inspirational and motivational, and I couldn’t ask for a better set of coaches to lead the team,” Wingate said.

Wingate is in the midst of a breakout season, having scored a team-leading six goals for the Irish in just seven games. Wingate attributes her success to her ability to move off the ball.

“This year I have been able to work on my movement off of the ball a little bit more. I think it is better than it was last year,” Wingate said. “I am working a lot on being patient and staying within the middle of the goal inside the 18-yard box most of the time, so I am not trying to drift too wide. That gives me a better chance of getting looks that are more directly in line with the goal.”

The twelfth-ranked Irish are off to a red-hot start with conference play starting this week against Clemson, and Wingate hopes the Irish can build off of their early season success.

“It’s always great when a team is winning. It’s always a great confidence booster,” Wingate said. “Going into ACC play, we have to recognize that we are one of the best teams.”

The Irish have been very successful on both sides of the ball this season, and Wingate knows the Irish need to keep playing well going forward.

“We just have to keep doing what we are doing,” Wingate said. “We are scoring a lot of goals. We are great defensively; we have only let up three goals in seven games. We move the ball super fast, our tempo is great, and I think a lot of teams haven’t been able to keep up with us.”

Wingate and the rest of the Irish travel to South Carolina on Sept. 15 to play the Clemson Tigers. The game will be available on the ACC network at 8 p.m. EST.

Contact Nate at nmoller2@nd.edu.

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