Nov. 21, 2014
#1 NOTRE DAME
NCAA Championship Second Round
Sunday, Nov. 23 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After completing the ultimate puzzle last season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team is back at the table with the pieces scattered in front of them as a new task awaits.
That challenge is defending their national title and the Fighting Irish will begin NCAA tournament play Sunday when they play host to Ohio State in the second round. Notre Dame earned the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, while the unseeded Buckeyes topped Akron in an epic penalty-kick shootout, 13-12, following a 1-1 draw in Thursday’s first round.
“Ohio State is a direct team and they look to get the ball into your half very quickly,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “They’re athletic and they’re very good on set pieces. They are a very dangerous team and I can see why they’ve been successful this year. They play a tough schedule and they’ve done very well. This will be a real challenge for us.”
Notre Dame has been one of the most consistent men’s soccer programs in the nation since Clark arrived prior to the 2001 campaign and last season the Fighting Irish put all the pieces together and won their first national title. The current team’s focus and determination of avoiding a post-championship hangover has resulted in an 11-4-4 record, the ACC Coastal Division title and the top seed for the national tournament.
“You’re always excited to play in the NCAA tournament,” Clark stated. “This is what you play for and what you think about all year and you play for it all through your regular season. This is when you have to come and play.”
The Fighting Irish have earned a spot in the NCAA field in 13 of Clark’s 14 seasons at Notre Dame. The 2011 campaign was the only time the Irish didn’t see their name in the bracket, but what the program has done since that disappointment is remarkable. Notre Dame is 45-9-11 in the last three seasons and over that time the Irish have claimed three conference titles, the national championship and have been the NCAA’s top overall seed twice (2012 & 2014).
This year’s postseason run already is off to a familiar start. Notre Dame exited last week’s ACC Tournament after falling to Clemson in penalty kicks, 5-4, after the two squads drew 1-1 in the semifinal round. Virginia eliminated the Irish in the same fashion during last year’s semifinal stage of the league tournament. That setback didn’t derail the Irish as they went on to blaze through the NCAA tournament, outscoring their opponents 14-4.
The Clemson match took place at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. That also is the site for this year’s College Cup.
“No two seasons are the same, but now we’re in a position where we have to win three games to get back to WakeMed,” Clark said following last week’s ACC semifinal match. “Hopefully we can win those games and come back here (to Cary) and see if we can do a better job. We’ll say this was a dry run for us today.”
THE OHIO STATE SERIES
– Sunday will be the 10th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Ohio State and the first since the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes won that encounter, 2-1, at Notre Dame’s Alumni Field.
– The first eight meetings in the series took place between 1979 and 1994.
– The two squads met during the 2013 preseason and the Fighting Irish claimed a 1-0 home victory over the Buckeyes.
FIGHTING IRISH ON A ROLL
– Notre Dame is riding a season-best five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2). The Fighting Irish have outscored their opponents 12-4 in those games.
– Notre Dame is 6-1-2 in its last nine matches with a 20-8 scoring advantage.
IRISH IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
– Notre Dame is in the NCAA Championship for the 17th time in program history. The Irish are 16-14-1 all-time in the tournament, including a 15-10-1 mark under head coach Bobby Clark.
– Clark has led the Fighting Irish to the NCAA Championship in 13 of his 14 seasons at Notre Dame. Last season, Clark guided the Fighting Irish to their first national title.
– Clark has led the Irish to the Round of 16 on six occasions and the quarterfinals three times. Last year was Notre Dame’s first appearance in the College Cup.
– This season signifies the ninth time that the Fighting Irish earned one of the 16 national seeds and a first-round bye in the 48-team field.
– This is the second time Notre Dame has earned the top overall seed. The Irish also claimed the top spot in 2012.
FIGHTING IRISH AGAINST THE FIELD
– Notre Dame faced 11 schools (Virginia twice) that qualified for this year’s 48-team NCAA field. The Irish posted a 6-2-4 record versus those squads.
– The Fighting Irish squared off against seven of the other seeded teams and they notched a 3-1-4 mark in those matchups.
BATTLING THE BIG TEN
– Sunday’s showdown with Ohio State will be Notre Dame’s fifth encounter with a Big Ten Conference foe this season. The Irish are 1-2-1 in this year’s four meetings with a Big Ten opponent.
– Notre Dame topped Northwestern (1-0) and tied Michigan State (1-1), while the Irish fell to Michigan (3-2) and Indiana (1-0).
– The Irish are 4-7-1 against the Big Ten in NCAA Championship play. Last season, Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin, 4-0, in the second round and Michigan State, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.
Bobby Clark BOASTS NCAA SUCCESS
– This year marks the 19th time that Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark has led a team to the NCAA tournament. Clark boasts a 24-15-3 (.607) career record in the NCAA Championship.
– Clark went 3-2-1 in two NCAA tournament appearances during his tenure at Dartmouth College (1985-93). He led the Big Green to the quarterfinals in 1990 and 1992.
– He posted a 6-3-1 mark over the course of four NCAA tournament trips during his time at Stanford (1996-2000). The Cardinal advanced to the NCAA final in 1998 under Clark’s direction before falling to Indiana, 3-1.
– Clark’s Notre Dame teams have been to the NCAAs 13 times in his 14 seasons in South Bend. The Irish are 15-10-1 in the tournament under Clark and he guided them to the 2013 national title.
CLARK TO COACH 300TH MATCH AT NOTRE DAME
– Sunday’s match will be the 300th for head coach Bobby Clark during his Notre Dame tenure. Clark has guided the Fighting Irish to a 181-73-45 (.681) mark during his 14 seasons on the Notre Dame sideline.
FORMER FIGHTING IRISH COACHES IN THE FIELD
– Three former Notre Dame assistant coaches led their teams into the 2014 NCAA Tournament field. Brian Wiese (No. 9 seed Georgetown), Jamie Clark (No. 14 seed Washington) and Chad Riley (Dartmouth) all coached under head coach Bobby Clark.
– Wiese was at Notre Dame from 2001-05, while Jamie Clark, the youngest son of Bobby Clark, was with the Irish during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Riley, a former Fighting Irish player, coached at his alma mater from 2006-11.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director