NC State – Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Official Athletics Site
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s soccer team, ranked 17th in the standings (9-2-0, 2-2-0), has a simple mission for the week: protect the field. The Fighting Irish have two games inside the Alumni Stadium this week where they have been very dominant for the past few years. In the lead, NC State (7-3-3, 2-2-0) on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET. Then No. 3 Florida State on Sunday, October 9 at noon.
ND VS NC STATE – THE SERIES
Notre Dame owns a 7-3-0 advantage over NC State with a 4-0-0 record at home. The series dates back to September 1992.
Last season, the Irish went to Raleigh and came away with a 2-1 victory. They were two freshmen who shone with goals from Korbin Albert and Katie Coyle. It was Coyle’s first career winning game.
In the RPI rankings updated Oct. 3, the Irish moved up one spot to No. 3 behind UCLA and Pitt in that order. Notre Dame is 2-1 against the RPI Top-25, 3-2 against the Top-50 and 4-2 against the Top-100.
The Irish have three ranked wins on the season – No. 19 Saint Louis (road play), No. 22 Wisconsin and No. 2 Virginia.
Notre Dame’s schedule strength ranks 9th in the nation this week.
Now, when it comes to the United Soccer Coaches poll, it looks like they don’t know where to place the Irish as this has been the weekly progress of the poll despite the 9-2-0 record with the accolades above: No 16 – Unclassified – No. 16 – No. 12 – No. 6 – No. 18 – No. 16 – No. 17.
BLOWS ON BLOWS
Notre Dame averages 9.9 shots on goal per game, which ranks 4th at the national level (1st in ACC). Overall, the Irish average 21.4 shots per game, ranking them 4th also at the national level (1st of the ACC).
By comparison, Notre Dame is up 235-70 (21.4 to 6.4) on the opposition on total shots. Meanwhile, the shots on goal differential stands at 109-24 (9.9-2.2). All of those shots led to 26 goals on the year, which ranks 39th in the nation, while scoring offense (2.36) ranks 34th.
Notre Dame’s ability to stretch the field has led to a national ranking of 4th in corner kicks (1st in the ACC) – 7.7 per game. Notre Dame has scored twice from corners this season: September 11 against Ohio, a Gaetino header, and September 22 against Virginia, a Mercado goal on a deflection.
Olivia Wingate — 10th in shots per game (4.4) // 3rd in shots on goal per game (2.8) // 18th in shooting accuracy (0.646) // 33rd in goals per game (0.64) // 30th in points per game (1.55)
Maddie Mercado — 4th in winning goals (4) // 17th in shots per game (4.0) // 10th in shots on goal per game (2.3) // 33rd in goals per game (0.64)
Mackenzie Wood — 19th in goals against average (.500)
The importance of scoring first? Well, the Irish are 9-0 when they do. Both times ND have trailed this season at half-time (both 1-0 at the time) they have suffered defeat.
The Irish backline of Gaetino, Hudson and Klenke have allowed just 24 shots on goal in 11 games – which is a big 2.2 SOG per game. Even on shots in general, opponents are averaging just 6.4 against the Irish.
Five games the Irish backline has only allowed 1 SOG or less: Boston College (9/30), Virginia (9/22), Saint Louis (8/25), Western Michigan (8/21) and Marquette (8/18) .
Notre Dame’s defensive/goalkeeping team has six shutouts this year. Mackenzie Wood in particular has been stellar in net, as his .500 average ranks 19th in the nation, allowing three goals in six games. Additionally, she has four shutouts, including her last two starts — Virginia and Boston College.
THE SOFTNESS OF HOME
The Irish have made the Alumni Stadium a difficult venue for opposing programs. Since its inception in 2009, Notre Dame has posted a 114-28-6 record, good for a .795 winning percentage. In fact, they’ve conceded just one defeat, or suffered none, in six separate seasons.
This year, the Irish are off to a 6-1-0 start inside the oldies this year. Last season, Notre Dame went 10-1-1 with its only loss being a 3-2 decision to Clemson in the ACC Tournament. Therefore, Notre Dame is 16-2-1 at home over its past two seasons. Since the start of the 2019 season, the Irish are 28-5-2 at home.
LIST OF ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS
Goaltender Mackenzie Wood ranks 22nd on the list of active career leaders in saves, recording 265 saves in her career. Additionally, Wood ranks 15th on the list of active career leaders in shutouts with 24.
Also, Wood ranks 3rd on the longest running streaks among ACC women’s footballers: 96, Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia) // 77, Sarah Hernandez (Louisville) // 67, Mackenzie Wood (Notre Dame) // 63, Sophie Jones (Duke) // 63, Athalie Palomo (Pitt) .
Notre Dame has scored a total of 26 goals to 8 in the 2022 season. Of the 26 goals, it comes from 9 different players: Wingate (7), Mercado (7), Van Zanten (3), Klenke (2) , Albert (2), Ospeck (2), Coyle, Fisher and Gaetino.
Mercado and Wingate have career years at the top, much like Sammi Fisher did a year ago. Mercado has already scored a career high with 7 goals (previous was 5) and has 4 game-winning goals (career best was 3). Mercado’s 4 winners are the most in the ACC and rank 4th in the nation.
Meanwhile, Wingate has now matched his career best on seven goals set a season ago in 2021. The duo combined for 33 of the team’s 72 points, almost half (45.8%).
Kiki Van Zanten has scored three times in the last six games and is close to joining Wingate and Mercado with double-digit points. The senior currently has 8.
Senior left midfielder Kati Druzina once again lends a hand, or should I say a foot, in the assist department. During the 2021 campaign, Druzina is tied for second on the team with five assists, including his first career multi-assist game (with 2) against Brown.
This season, Druzina is tied with Wingate for the team lead in assists with three – against Marquette, Illinois and Ohio.
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