The champions from the Big Ten and Big East conferences collide in a third-round NCAA tournament match as 22nd-ranked Minnesota visits top-ranked Notre Dame in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Minnesota is making its first trip to the “Sweet 16” while the Fighting Irish advanced to the round for the fifth straight year and have played in the past two Women’s College Cups. The winner of this weekend’s match advances to the national quarterfinals to face either Boston College or Florida State the following weekend.
Scouting the Gophers
Minnesota advanced to the third round with a 2-1 victory over Marquette and a 2-0 win over South Dakota State last weekend. The Gophers used early goals to set the tone in each contest, scoring twice in the first 15 minutes of each match.
Senior Kelsey Hood, who was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, delivered her first goal of the season less than eight minutes into Friday’s win over Marquette. Sophomore Julie Rezac added another goal less than seven minutes later as Minnesota scored on its only two shots on goal in the match.
Sophomore Molly Rouse tallied her fourth goal of the year just 1:11 into Sunday’s win over South Dakota State. Lindsey Schwartz assisted the first goal and gave the Gophers a 2-0 lead with her team-leading eighth goal at the 13:27 mark.
Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Dare extended her Big Ten single-season record with her 17th shutout of the season on Sunday. The shutout also tied the Big Ten record for most shutouts by a team, matching the 2000 Penn State squad. Dare has played every minute in goal this season for Minnesota, setting a single-season school record with 2,281 minutes played. Her 0.43 goals against average ranks sixth in the country.
Scouting the Fighting Irish
The nation’s top-ranked team moved into the third round by beating Toledo 5-2 and Michigan State 1-0 last weekend. The two goals allowed in the opening match marked only the second time this season Notre Dame has allowed two goals in a match. Rose Augustin scored the game-winner against Michigan State in the 73rd minute. She also had two goals in the win over Toledo.
Kerri Hanks leads Notre Dame and ranks seventh in the nation in scoring with 18 goals and 13 assists for 49 points. Hanks was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year and is joined up front by freshman Melissa Henderson, who had 17 goals and one assist for 35 points to earn Big East Rookie of the Year honors. The Irish lead the nation in scoring offense and have outscored their opponents 78-10 for the season. Carrie Dew was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year.
Notre Dame is making its 16th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and won national titles in 1995 and 2004.