Aug. 15, 2014
#1 NOTRE DAME
Saturday, August 16 – 7 p.m. (CT)
Robert R. Hermann Stadium – St. Louis, Mo.
(slustats.com for mobile devices)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Luckily the Notre Dame men’s soccer players are used to absorbing information quickly thanks to their fast-paced classroom environment. The top-ranked Fighting Irish will endure their first on-field test less than a week into preseason camp when they open exhibition play Saturday evening at Saint Louis.
After just five practices over the last three days, Notre Dame will take to the pitch at Robert R. Hermann Stadium for a 7 p.m. (CT) kickoff against the Billikens.
“Right now with our full squad that includes six new freshmen, we’re trying to bed down our philosophy of how we play,” head coach Bobby Clark said. “We’re not going to teach that in three or four days, but Saturday’s game gives us our first chance to put it out there.
“We’ll try to play one group in the first half and another group in the second half. We’re going to try and win each half, obviously, but at the same time it’s important that we get a look at some of the new guys. The upperclassmen have done a fantastic job at teaching the young guys. It’s possibly the best I’ve ever seen the young guys learning our system and a lot of the credit goes to the upperclassmen.”
Since Notre Dame is one of the most consistent programs in the nation, the Fighting Irish are used to getting the best effort from their opposition, but now they get to wear an even bigger target as the defending national champion. Luckily the new Under Armour kits didn’t come with an actual bullseye on the back, but the Irish aren’t afraid to say they have high expectations in 2014.
“I like having the target on our back and I’m glad we do,” senior left back Max Lachowecki said. “I’d rather have that than not have that; it’s great that we won the national championship. We just have a bunch of winners on the team and hopefully that’ll show this season in how we play. I want to win the games we play in practice just as badly as any other game. Well, maybe I wanted to win the national championship a little more. The biggest thing is our work ethic. I know that if we work hard things will turn out well. We have such a talented team that our work ethic is our X factor.”
Saturday’s friendly won’t count in the standings, but it’s the first chance for the Fighting Irish to showcase the work they’ve put in during the offseason. It’s a new season and new challenges await but if the Irish use their proven formula for success, positive results should follow.
“Everyone already has a new mindset after last season,” senior forward Vince Cicciarelli said. “We’re ready for this year and no one is looking back. The freshmen have come in and done a really good job at fitting in which is great to see.”
– Notre Dame is coming off its first national title and the Fighting Irish are ranked No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll. The Irish posted a 17-1-6 record and defeated Maryland, 2-1, in the national title game at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Notre Dame and Maryland shared the ACC regular-season title with identical 7-1-3 league marks.
– The Fighting Irish return 10 players who started over 50 percent of last season’s matches. Notre Dame also welcomes back 75 percent of its goal production from one year ago.
– The top returning scorer is junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, who ranked second among all Irish players in goals (11) and assists (5) last season.
– Goalkeeper Patrick Wall, a fifth-year senior, played every minute last season and registered a 0.71 goals-against average and a .804 save percentage.
– Head coach Bobby Clark is entering his 14th season at the helm of the Fighting Irish program. Clark is 170-69-41 (.680) at Notre Dame and 323-132-66 (.683) in his 27 seasons as a college head coach. Last season, he was named the NSCAA National Coach of the Year and the ACC Coach of the Year.
THE SAINT LOUIS SERIES
– Notre Dame and Saint Louis have met 12 times during the regular season with the Billikens holding an 8-3-1 advantage in the series.
– Five of the showdowns took place while both teams were members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC). The Fighting Irish went 1-4 against the Billikens during their time in the MCC.
– Saturday will be the first encounter between the Fighting Irish and Billikens since the 2011 campaign when Saint Louis claimed a 2-1 double-overtime victory at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.
– Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark is 1-2-1 all-time against Saint Louis.
ABOUT THE BILLIKENS
– Saint Louis returns five of its top six scorers from last year’s squad that went 14-5-2 overall and 6-0-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Billikens captured the A-10 regular-season title and advanced to the league’s championship game.
– Head coach Mike McGinty is in his fifth season at Saint Louis. He has been named the A-10 Coach of the Year each of the last two campaigns.
– The Fighting Irish will travel to Peoria, Ill. on Sunday in advance of Tuesday’s exhibition showdown against Bradley. It’ll be a homecoming for Peoria native and current senior forward Vince Cicciarelli, who attended Peoria Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish squad will spend part of Sunday at his parent’s lake house.
“We’re going to be doing our regeneration there by swimming in the lake and then my parents will be cooking out for the team,” Cicciarelli said. “The team will be able to relax a little bit and we’ll do some fishing. It’ll be really fun to see a lot of the guys out of their element. They’ll get to see what the outdoors are like in the Midwest.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director