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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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Sports

Notre Dame hopes to continue shut-out streak against No. 22 Wisconsin

An undefeated No. 16 Notre Dame women’s soccer team returns home to play No. 22 Wisconsin Friday. While the Irish have so far come out victors, the Badgers are a highly ranked team, and it will not be easy to maintain their unbeaten streak. 

Currently, the Irish are in a good position both defensively and offensively to push through this season. Notre Dame has shut out, Marquette, Western Michigan,  No. 19 St. Louis and Illinois. The last time the Irish had a four-game shutout streak was in 2010. Individually, the Irish defense is also strong. Less than two weeks into the season, freshman Leah Klenke was named ACC defensive player of the week. The rest of the Irish defense only allowed four shots between the four games (one against Saint Louis and three against Illinois).  

Klenke, as well as the rest of the Irish, are not only showing out on defense but offensively as well. Senior midfielder Maddie Mercado leads the team with 3 goals, followed by Klenke and graduate student forward Olivia Wingate with two goals apiece. Over the span of 4 games, and 11 goals, seven different Irish players found the back of the net. Notre Dame is ranked first nationally in corner kicks per game (11.5), third nationally with shots on goal (12.75) and sixth nationally with shots per game (23.75).  However, head coach Nate Norman thinks the girls can do better. 

“I think just more efficient with our finishing, just having that belief that the chances are there — they come like every three minutes — so just expecting that they’re gonna come and just being sharper in the box, maybe one or two touch finishes,” said Norman. “We’re taking a lot of touches in the box. And then, I do want to be the fastest playing team in the country so just keep that tempo high and make people have to chase us.”

Against Illinois, the Irish held onto possession for 70% of the match and had a total of 27 shots. However, even with such a high shot count, the Irish were only able to find the back of the net four times, all by separate players. Two of the goals were given to Mercado and Klenke, while the other two were notched by junior forward Ellie Ospeck and sophomore defender Katie Coyle. All four goals were assisted, also by different players. 

“That was a really big game because I think we had done a lot of really good stuff and we thought we were pretty good, but I didn’t know if we quite knew it,” said Norman, “But after that game, I think they walked away and they knew we had a chance to be very, very good.” 

The Irish are on a hot streak and are looking to keep it going against Wisconsin. While the Badgers are certainly a tough team, the Irish have not made Alumni stadium an easy place to play. Over the course of the stadium’s life, Notre Dame has only lost 27 games and won a total of 111.

But, the Wisconsin roster is stacked. Emma Jaskaniec has scored in the past three Badger games. In net for the Badgers is Erin McKinney, who ranks fourth in save percentage with .941, as well as is tied for first in shutouts in the Big Ten. 

After Wisconsin, the Irish are on a two-game Indiana road trip, first in Bloomington before traveling to West Lafayette to play Purdue. 

Kick-off in Alumni stadium starts at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1. Live stats will be available on ACCNX.

Olivia Schatz

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu.