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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Irish women's soccer to host Michigan on ‘Irish Wear Green’ night

Notre Dame senior forward Kiki Van Zanten prepares to pass the ball upfield in an August 28, 2022 game versus Illinois.

After defeating Michigan State in East Lansing Sunday afternoon, the Irish women’s soccer team returns to South Bend looking to build off of their win. Next up, the Irish will face the University of Michigan Wolverines on Thursday night. Michigan has won their last two contests, most recently defeating Cincinnati 1-0 in Ann Arbor last Sunday. 

Coming into the contest, the Irish now stand at 3-0-2 on the year while the Wolverines are 2-1-2. Last year, the Irish finished 17-3-3 and made the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals before losing to North Carolina. Korbin Albert, last year’s star, decided to forego her remaining eligibility to play professionally with PSG, a French soccer club. The Irish have responded well to Albert's departure though, enjoying a strong start to the season. 

Approaching ACC play, the Irish are plenty battle-tested. Outings against Arkansas and Michigan State, two teams who made the NCAA tournament in 2022, have provided them with non-conference tests before they enter their difficult ACC schedule. In the first five games of the season, the Irish have doubled the amount of goals that their opponents have scored. The Irish are currently averaging2.6 goals scored per game while their opponents average 1.2 againstthem. 

Senior forward Ellie Ospeck has been the star of recent outings for the Irish, posting five points in the two matches. Ospeck only scored two goals last season, and has already tied that number in five games this season. In addition to Ospeck, fellow senior Eva Gaetino has had a stellar start to her season. The 2022 ACC Defender of the Year already has three goals on theseason. Gaetino was also a First Team All-American and a Mac Hermann Trophy semifinalist for the Irish last season. 

On the other side of the field, the Wolverines are off to a much better start than their 2022 season. Last year, they posted a 7-8-3 record and finished 2-6-2 in their conference. For Michigan, senior forward Sammi Woods and freshman forward Gabrielle Prych currently lead the team in scoring with two goals apiece. Woods led the team in goals (7) and was tied forthe team lead in points (15) last season. Of note for Thursday's contest is the fact that the Wolverines are yet to win a road game this season. 

The Irish will enter the contest well-rested, having just one game in the past week. Thursday’s matchup will be “Irish Wear Green Night” and kicks off at 7 p.m. in South Bend.