PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The 2011-12 season kicks off with a plethora of women’s soccer action this weekend. Fourteen BIG EAST teams are in action on Friday, including defending national champion Notre Dame. The Irish, who were picked to win the league’s National Division, will host Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m. ET. The match will be webcast live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics web site, www.UND.com. Notre Dame is ranked No. 1 in the preseason NSCAA/Continental Tire poll and No. 2 in the Soccer America rankings.
No. 15/23 Georgetown also begins the year Friday with a 4 p.m. match against crosstown rival George Washington. The Hoyas are coming off their best season in school history and a run to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. Leading the charge is redshirt senior and All-BIG EAST Preseason selection Ingrid Wells.
No. 21/13 West Virginia heads to No. 16/10 Virginia for a 7:30 p.m. contest in the only battle between ranked teams. The Mountaineers were once again picked to win the league’s American Division, and return all four backline starters.
No. 14/12 Marquette closes out the day with its home opener against Western Michigan at 8:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles are under the direction of two-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year Markus Roeders.
On Sunday, 12 teams are slated for action, including a cross-town rivalry match as Cincinnati host Xavier.
The league totaled a record 12 wins during the NCAA Championship last season. In addition, a BIG EAST school has advanced to the NCAA College Cup 12 times in the past 16 years (since 1995). BIG EAST teams return 16 of 24 players named to the All-BIG EAST First and Second Teams following the 2010 season.