Aug. 19, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER — Exhibition Match (Grassroot Soccer)#10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-7-2 in 2016) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (10-5-4) in 2016)
DATE: Aug. 21, 2017
TIME: 5 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Indiana (Alumni Stadium – cap. 3,500)
BROADCAST: ACC Network Extra
TICKETS: Free admission, with donations to Grassroot Soccer accepted at the gate of Alumni Stadium and during the match.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the eve of the 2017 regular season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team welcomes Valparaiso to Alumni Stadium on Monday for the final Irish exhibition match of the preseason. The 5 p.m. (ET) match will air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 10 Notre Dame has won its first two exhibition matches thus far in the buildup to the 2017 season, a 2-0 decision at Omaha on Aug. 13 and a 4-1 victory over Drake on Aug. 16. The Irish are set to appear for the first time at Alumni Stadium since a 5-0 win over the Mexico Under-18 National Team in April.
“I think our seniors have done a great job of teaching through this early period,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s such a short preseason, and if you wait for a coaching staff to give the young players all their gems it’s not going to happen. It has to come from the way we pick practice teams and if the upperclassmen are doing the teaching. Especially the seniors, they have been here for four and some even five years, so they know our program inside and out. We’re as far along as we should be at this time, and the third scrimmage will be a test.”
Valparaiso (10-5-4 in 2016) is set to take the field for the first time in 2017 with its only official exhibition scrimmage of the fall when the Crusaders travel to Notre Dame. Valparaiso reached the opening round of the Horizon League Championship last season, and is preparing to enter its first season in the Missouri Valley Conference. Head coach Mike Avery was an assistant under Clark at Notre Dame for six seasons during the mid-2000s.
The final exhibition scrimmage for Notre Dame also marks the 14th annual Grassroot Soccer (GSR) benefit game. Admission to Alumni Stadium is free for the match, with donations accepted toward Grassroot Soccer at the stadium gate and throughout the night.
Grassroot Soccer is an international organization dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV, and was founded by Clark’s eldest son, Tommy. Soccer is one of the organization’s main educational tools used in communities to reinforce HIV awareness, and is a cause that both Notre Dame and Valparaiso both champion each year.
“For me it’s always nice to schedule a game with Mike (Avery), who was a terrific assistant coach here,” Clark said. “It gives us a game with a neighbor that we might not be able to schedule in the regular season, and it’s always a good game because Mike’s teams can play against anyone. The fact that he knows what Grassroot Soccer is all about is terrific as well, a charity that is obviously close to my heart.”
Season and single-game tickets for the 2017 Notre Dame men’s soccer season are on sale now. Visit und.com/buytickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 for more information or to purchase tickets.
Get To Know The 2017 Irish
Notre Dame checked in 10th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll that was unveiled on Aug. 3. The Irish, who finished 14th in the final poll at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign, debuted at No. 9 in the country at the start of last season.
In all 12 monogram winners, including seven regular starters, are back in the fold for Notre Dame in 2017. The Irish reached the NCAA Championship Round of 16 last fall on the strength of a 12-7-2 record.
Six freshmen have joined the Notre Dame program in advance of the new season. Defender Mitch MacDonald, midfielder Aiden McFadden, goalkeeper Keagan McLaughlin, midfielder Townsend Meyer, and forwards Simon Roennecke and Paul Rothrock enter their first seasons of collegiate eligibility in 2017.
Strong Preseason Start
The Irish raced out of the gate with a pair of road victories earlier this month in exhibition play, downing both Omaha (2-0 on Aug. 13) and Drake (4-1 on Aug. 16) during an extended road and training trip.
A total of five Notre Dame players have scored goals over the course of the first two 90-minute scrimmage contests. Jon Gallagher tallied both Irish goals at Omaha, while Jack Casey, Jeff Farina, Ian Aschieris and Kyle Dedrick found the scoresheet against Drake.
Irish Unbeaten In Home Exhibitions Since 2001
Entering Monday’s matchup with Valparaiso, Notre Dame has not been defeated in fall exhibition contests played on campus since Bobby Clark assumed the helm of the Irish in 2001. Notre Dame is 11-0-4 (.867) in 15 such matches under Clark that have taken place at both old Alumni Field and the current Alumni Stadium. The Irish and Valparaiso tied 1-1 in the most recent preseason meeting between the teams last August.
Entering its first season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, Valparaiso was picked to finish sixth in its new league in the 2017 MVC preseason poll. The Crusaders return 10 players from last year’s squad that finished 10-5-4 with an exit in the opening round of the Horizon League tournament. Former Notre Dame assistant and longtime Valparaiso head coach Mike Avery is entering his 11th season at the helm of the Crusaders, and will begin the regular season two victories from equaling the program’s career wins record.
Looking Ahead To The Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament
Notre Dame will host the 15th Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament on Aug. 25-27 to officially open the 2017 regular season. The Irish face San Diego at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 25 before closing the weekend against Cal Poly at 2 p.m. on Aug. 27. Indiana will be the fourth team involved in the weekend schedule, playing neutral site matches against San Diego and Cal Poly.
The tournament is held in honor of the former Irish head coach who compiled a 104-80-19 record during his 10-year stint at Notre Dame. Berticelli led the Irish to three NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994, 1996), including the program’s first NCAA win in 1996. He guided Notre Dame to one Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) regular-season title (1993) and two MCC tournament crowns (1993 & 1994). Berticelli also steered Notre Dame to its first BIG EAST tournament title in 1996.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.