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Irish receive top seed in tournament; road to College Cup will run through South Bend

Notre Dame women’s soccer received a one seed for the upcoming NCAA tournament during the national selection show Monday afternoon. 

The Irish will now host as many as four games in the tournament, and will play in South Bend all the way to the College Cup if they continue their winning streak.

Head coach Nate Norman remarked on the advantages of being able to keep their games at home heading down the stretch of the season. 

“I think it’s great,” Norman said. “Just sleeping in your own bed, being able to be home with all the comforts — our own training room, our own locker room … the normal things like the sights and the smells and playing on your own field … I think that’s a huge advantage. It’s also great to be here in South Bend in November, if you get some teams from the south and west and have to play in colder weather which is obviously something we’re used to.”

Notre Dame’s path to the College Cup, even if it may run through Alumni Stadium, is far from easy. 

North Carolina, who spent much of the regular season as the second ranked team in the country, looms large as the second seed in the region. Stanford, who won a national championship as recently as 2019, stands as the three seed with plenty of upset pedigree, with the Cardinal having knocked off No. 1 UCLA earlier in the season. 

Michigan State, who took home the Big Ten’s regular season title, is the four seed. And looming as a potential second round matchup for the Irish is 2020 national champion and 2021 College Cup participant Santa Clara.

Norman remarked on the quality of the region and the number of talented teams Notre Dame could face along the way on their road to Cary.

“I think it’s exciting,” Norman said. “I look and there’s three really historic teams on our side of the bracket with Santa Clara, UNC and Stanford. I think just to have the opportunity to play those teams is always a fun experience because those programs have so much success.”

Norman also made sure to give credit to Notre Dame’s potential round of sixteen matchup Michigan State, who have engineered an impressive turnaround as a program in two years under head coach Jeff Hosler.

“I think what they’ve done is remarkable,” Norman said. “Jeff’s done an amazing job there, to be able to take that program in such a short time and make them really a national contender I think is truly amazing. So all respect to them and they’ll be someone where if we’re fortunate enough to make it that far and meet them that will be a really challenging game.”

But regardless of any potential historic rematches with UNC or Stanford or local rivalries with Michigan State, Norman’s top priority is the first game on the schedule for the Irish, a matchup with Omaha on Saturday.

“I think we’ve given up some goals [recently],” Norman said. “We’ve played some very good teams but I think really we want to take the early part of this week and focus on some of the defensive elements we have and then really later on in the week get back into the things we believe we’re great at so we’ll be able to hit the ground running once that Saturday game hits.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 2 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

Contact J.J. at jpost2@nd.edu.

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