Nov. 18, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 20
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND OF 32
#12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-6-2) vs. #20 Wisconsin Badgers (11-4-5)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – NCAA Championship soccer returns to Alumni Stadium, as a regular stop in the national tournament for the past 17 seasons has been the home ground of the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team. The Irish welcome Wisconsin on Sunday for a 6 p.m. (ET) showdown in second-round action in the NCAA Championship, with the match to air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 12 Notre Dame (11-6-2) earned the 12th national seed in the NCAA tournament following a semifinal appearance in the ACC Championship last weekend. The Irish are in search of a 10th berth all-time into the tournament’s final 16, hosting at least one NCAA Championship game at Alumni Stadium for the sixth straight season.
No. 20 Wisconsin (11-4-5) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship with a 4-1 win over UIC on Thursday in Madison. The Badgers, who claimed the Big Ten Tournament championship from Indiana on Nov. 12, are making just their second NCAA tournament appearance since 2013. In the last NCAA tilt for Wisconsin, Notre Dame blanked the Badgers 4-0 on Nov. 24, 2013 at Alumni Stadium.
Irish Return As NCAA Seed
Notre Dame earned a bid into the NCAA Championship for the 20th time in program history, as the Irish were rewarded with their sixth straight top-16 national seed when the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship draw was unveiled on Monday.
Notre Dame, the tournament’s 12th overall seed, is set to make its 16th NCAA Championship appearance in the past 17 seasons under head coach Bobby Clark and its 12th as one of the event’s 16 national seeds. The Irish were seeded 13th in 2016, seventh in 2015, were the top overall seed in both 2012 and 2014, and won the 2013 NCAA Championship as the third seed in their last five tournament berths.
The Irish are 18-17-2 (.514) all-time in NCAA Championship play, which includes a 17-13-2 record under Clark. Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 on nine occasions, the national quarterfinals three times (2006-07, 2013), and claimed the national championship during the program’s inaugural NCAA College Cup appearance in 2013.
Irish In The RPI
In the seventh release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame held down the 10th slot in the week seven rankings after reaching the final four teams in the ACC Championship. The Irish have faced the second-hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Nov. 12, with their opponents’ strength of schedule rated first among all teams across the country who compete in Division I men’s soccer.
Notre Dame has compiled a 3-5-2 record against teams in the current top 25 of the RPI this season. The Irish defeated No. 2 North Carolina 2-1 on Nov. 5, No. 6 Clemson 2-1 on Oct. 6 and No. 15 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10. Notre Dame has added draws with No. 3 Duke (0-0) on Oct. 20 and No. 9 Virginia (1-1) on Sept. 29. In fact, seven of the eight ACC opponents that Notre Dame faced in the regular season are in the current RPI top 50. Along with Duke, Clemson, Virginia and North Carolina, the Irish have also taken on No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 30 Pittsburgh and No. 45 NC State.
The ACC remains the far and away top-ranked conference in the league RPI standings this season, with seven members rated among the top 10 in the country as of Nov. 12. The ACC received a total of nine bids into the 2017 NCAA Championship to lead Division I men’s soccer for the second straight season. The nine teams chosen are a record for a single conference in a given NCAA tournament.
Irish All-Time As A National Seed
In its 20th all-time appearance in the NCAA Championship during the 2017 edition of the national tournament, Notre Dame is enjoying its 12th berth as one of the event’s 16 national seeds. The Irish are 14-9-2 (.600) as a seeded team entering Sunday’s NCAA game against Wisconsin.
All 12 national seeds in the NCAA Championship for Notre Dame have been achieved under head coach Bobby Clark. The Irish have been seeded (with a first-round bye) in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Recent ND Success In NCAAs
Notre Dame had claimed one win in its history during NCAA Championship play over its first four trips to the national tournament, punctuated by a 1-0 shutout of No. 2 UNC Greensboro on Nov. 24, 1996.
Since entering the new millennium the Irish have cemented themselves as mainstays in the NCAA Championship. Dating back to 2001, Notre Dame has won 17 games in 16 trips to the national tournament, notching two wins in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and a program record five wins during its national championship season in 2013.
Notre Dame was among the final eight teams remaining in the field in both 2006 and 2007 before reaching the NCAA College Cup for the first time during its stellar 2013 championship run. The Irish prepare for their first game of the 2017 NCAA tournament against Wisconsin on Sunday after earning a bye through the opening round of the bracket.
Wisconsin earned a home match during the first round of the NCAA Championship on the strength of an 11-4-5 record, and advanced to the second round by way of a 4-1 win over UIC on Thursday at McClimon Memorial Track & Soccer Complex. Other recent Wisconsin results featured a 0-0 draw with No. 2 seed Indiana to claim the Big Ten tournament championship 4-2 in penalty kicks on Nov. 12. The Badgers also defeated No. 4 seed Maryland 2-1 (Nov. 5) and No. 1 seed Michigan 4-0 (Nov. 10) on their way to the tournament crown.
Wisconsin has outscored opponents by an aggregate goal count of 42-24 over its first 20 starts this season. Each of the four Badger losses in 2017 have been by a single goal.
Head coach John Trask is 64-65-27 (.497) in his eighth season at the helm of Wisconsin, and has led the Badgers to double-digit victories in a season for the second straight year and the fourth time in his tenure. Wisconsin is making its second NCAA appearance under Trask, previously reaching the second round in 2013 (4-0 loss to ND).
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.