ST. LOUIS – The Notre Dame women’s soccer team (2-0) will get a chance to earn their first victory of the 2022 season when they travel to St. Louis to face 19th-ranked Billikens (2-0). The Fighting Irish looked impressive with wins over Marquette and Western Michigan, posting a 5-0 goal tally. Meanwhile, St. Louis eliminated the N0. 8 Arkansas at home, 1-0, then followed that up with a 3-0 win over Drake.
Fans can watch the action online on ESPN+. The first kick at Hermann Stadium is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. local time.
NOTABLES OF THE OPENING WEEKEND
What a 2-0 start for the Irish last week in wins over Marquette and Western Michigan. In terms of shooting, it was all Notre Dame, 52-1 in fact. The Irish rank 7th nationally in shots per game (26.0) and 4th in shots on goal per game (12.5).
Defensively, the Irish are yet to allow a single shot on goal, with a 25-0 lead there. Yet despite the two wins, the Irish have somehow fallen from 16th in the pre-season poll to unranked this week.
MAC HERMANN WATCH LIST
As a defender, your hard work can sometimes go unnoticed. However, Eva Gaetino received some much-needed love when she was named to the Mac Hermann Trophy watch list. On August 18, United Soccer Coaches announced their 61 players for football’s most prestigious award. The roster is reduced to 15 players on November 30.
Olivia Wingate and Maddie Mercado recorded their second career double on opening weekend. Wingate scored twice against Marquette, while Mercado delivered both through the air and on the ground with two against Western Michigan.
Wingate ranked third on the team last year with seven goals, while Mercado ranked fourth with five. Both of those goal totals were respective career highs for Wingate and Mercado.
A talented freshman quartet join the Irish for the 2022 season: Leah Klenke, Berkley Mensik, Laney Matriano and Kiki Turner. Both Klenke and Matriano received midfield starts in the first two games.
Klenke in particular shone, registering three points over the weekend. She scored in the 3-0 win over Marquette, then delivered a fine cross and assist to Mercado in the winner against Western Michigan.
Coach Norman described Klenke as one of the best freshmen he’s had here in terms of preparing for Game 1. He also said he could play her in any position and she did in both games, starting in the middle and then rotating to left-back.
Speaking of the Ball State exposure, Mensik has proven she has speed that could rival Wingate. In a counterattack, Mensik dribbled past 3 defenders before scoring a Mercado goal.
RETURN OF LOCAL PENN OUTSTANDERS
Two graduate students transferred into the program are returning home for their final season. Mackenzie Wood and Kristina Lynch, both of Granger, attended Penn High and won a state title together.
Wood, a 5-9 Northwestern goaltender, will face Ashley Naylor for the starting spot. Expect to see the two starting games at the start of the season.
Lynch, a 5-7 forward for Florida State, won NCAA titles with the Seminoles in 2018 and 2021. She is currently recovering from an ankle injury and will miss the first few weeks.
The Irish return to all but two starters from last year’s starting XI, losing only their two central midfielders in Camryn Dyke and Brook VanDyck. So his entire backline defense of Wirtz, Gaetino and Hudson is back and looking to dominate even more than last season.
All three defensemen helped post a .963 goals-against average. In total, the Irish defense allowed 22 goals with 97 shots on goal. In total, they only allowed 9.6 shots per game. The 22 goals were the fewest allowed in coach Norman’s tenure (not including the shortened 2020 season due to Covid-19), and the fewest since 2016.
ON THE FRONT FOOT
A trend for Notre Dame in 2021 was to strike early and pounce on their opponent. In total, ND scored a total of 12 goals in the first 20 minutes of matches – spanning 10 different matches. The Irish could well be back on that trend in 2022, scoring two goals in the opening 10 minutes of Marquette’s game.
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