Sept. 15, 1998
NOTRE DAME, IND. — The 16th-ranked Notre Dame mens soccer team (3-0-1, 1-0-1) is on the road for two BIG EAST games this week as the Irish travel to Rutgers for a 7:00 p.m. contest on Friday, September 18 in Piscataway, N.J. and then play at Villanova on Sunday, September 20 at 1:00 p.m.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW – Northwestern: Freshman Shane Waltons (San Diego, Calif.) first-half goal just before halftime was all the Notre Dame team needed to stay unbeaten as the Irish beat Northwestern 1-0. In a game thoroughly dominated by Notre Dame, Waltons fourth goal of the season with just under five minutes to play before halftime was chipped in from five yards out in front of the goal. The score was set up when senior Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.) crossed a pass to junior Ryan Cox (Broadview Hts., Ohio) who standing in front of the box. Cox found Walton in front of the goal.
Notre Dame outshot the Wildcats 20-3 and did not allow Northwestern to get off a shot until midway through the second half Irish goalkeeper Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) recorded his first shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.
Pittsburgh: Notre Dame and Pittsburgh each scored twice in the first half, and for the second straight year, battled to an overtime deadlock, as the Irish and Panthers played to a 2-2 tie. Shane Walton netted his fifth goal of the 1998 campaign and scored in his fourth consecutive game, while teammate Ryan Cox tallied his second goal of the season. Notre Dame received strong goaltending from Greg Velho as he came up with a season-best nine saves; five of those came in the two overtime sessions.
Pittsburgh, which outshot the Irish 20-13 and owned a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks, got on the scoreboard first at 14:02 before Walton tied the game at 1-1 off assists from Ben Bocklage (St. Louis, Mo.) and Cox. Cox and Walton then hooked up to give the Irish a 2-1 advantage at the 29:26 mark when Cox blasted a shot from the left corner of the penalty box off a Walton feed. Pittsburghs Drew Kopp netted his second score of the game and knotted the game at 2-2 with at 33:16. Both teams had scoring chances in the second half before the overtime session, but neither team could capitalize.
HEAD COACH MIKE BERTICELLI – Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli is in his ninth season along the Irish sidelines and 23rd as a collegiate coach. He has led Notre Dame to three of the school’s four NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994 and 1996). In 1996, his Irish squad won the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament game when it defeated second-seeded UNC Greensboro in the first round. Berticelli has an 90-65-14 (.573) mark at Notre Dame and is 277-120-37 (.681) overall.
In three of the last five seasons, Irish teams have won conference tournament titles. Under Berticelli, the Irish claimed the 1996 BIG EAST tournament crown in just its second year as a member of the league with consecutive wins over ranked opponents Connecticut and Rutgers. During the 1993 and 1994 campaigns, the Irish won back-to-back MCC tournament crowns and earned berths in the NCAA tournament.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent six seasons (1984-89) at Old Dominion where his teams compiled a 76-27-16 record for a .706 winning percentage. Berticelli coached for four years at UNC-Greensboro (1980-83) with his teams compiling a 70-9-5 record (.863) and winning two Division III national crowns in 1982 and 1983. His first head coaching stint was at Thomas College where he coached from (1976-79) with his teams posting a 41-19-2 mark during that four-year span. The Irish have won 10-plus games in six of his eight seasons at the Notre Dame helm.
SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS – Rutgers: The series is tied 3-3 as the Irish have been victorious 1-0 each of the last two meetings. Notre Dame beat the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. at the 1996 BIG EAST Championship final and then earned earned a win last season during the regular season. The Irish have a 1-3 road record against Rutgers, and since joining the BIG EAST, have lost both regular season meetings in Piscataway.
Villanova: This series also is even at two games each. Neither team has won on the others home field. Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, Notre Dame has beaten Villanova at Alumni Field by 4-1 (1995) and 1-0 (1997) counts. The Irish dropped a 2-1 decision to the Wildcats in Villanova, Pa. two years ago.
WALTON COPS BIG EAST ROOKIE HONORS AGAIN – For the second consecutive week, Irish freshman Shane Walton has been named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week. Walton earns the honor after he figured in all three of the Notre Dame goals scored last week as the Irish posted a 1-0-1 mark. Walton tallied the games lone goal in a 1-0 win over Northwestern and in a 2-2 tie with Pittsburgh had a goal and an assist. Against the Panthers, he scored the a game-tying goal and had the assist on the score which put the Irish up 2-1 in the contest.
OFF AND RUNNING – In just four games, Shane Walton has clearly emerged as one of this seasons top freshmen nationally. The 5-11 forward leads the team in scoring with five goals and three assists (13 points) and has scored a goal in each of Notre Dames four contests and has two multiple-point games. His first multiple-point performance was against Valparaiso in the season opener when he tallied twice and also dished off two assists. His second came on Sunday in the Pittsburgh game when he scored once and had an assist.
HOME SWEET HOME – Notre Dame is 2-0-1 at home this season at Alummi Field. The 1998 campaign marks the ninth season for the Irish playing at Alumni Field. Since 1990, Notre Dame has won 72.5 percent of its games, compiling a 55-19-6 record. Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past three-plus seasons, although Coach Mike Berticellis squad somewhat struggled at home in 1997 winning just six of 10 games. The four losses represented the most for a Notre Dame team at Alumni Field in eight years. Four of the six wins, however, were shutouts.
The previous season, 1996, the Irish had a 7-1-2 mark at home after posting an 8-3 record during the 1995 campaign. Notre Dame won a school-record 11 wins in 1994 en route to an 11-3-1 mark. Berticelli’s squad recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home.
WELCOME BACK – Ryan Cox, a BIG EAST all-Rookie Team selection in 1996, has returned to the Irish lineup after missing the 1997 campaign with an ankle injury. In the four games he has played since his return, he is second in the Notre Dame scoring column with two goals and a team-leading five assists (nine points). Cox had a goal and two assists in Notre Dames two outings versus Northwestern and Pittsburgh. As a freshman, he scored a goal and dished off two assists, while making nine starts in 19 appearances.
WALTON AND COX ARE A SCORING COMBINATION – The combination of Shane Walton and Ryan Cox has appeared prominently on the Irish scoresheet this season. Together, the dou has been involved in six of the 12 goals scored by the Irish this season. They have combined for seven goals and eight of the teams 15 assists.
VELHO REACHES SHUTOUT NUMBER 22 – Senior Greg Velho recorded his first shutout of the season and 22nd of his career when the Irish beat Northwestern 1-0. The senior was impressive in the BIG EAST home opener versus Pittsburgh as he made a season-high nine saves, including five in the two overtimes sessions.
IRONMAN – Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.) has played in all 67 games throughout his career and has made starting appearances in 66 of those contests. The only start he has missed was against Georgetown during the 1995 season. Johnson dished off his first assist of the campaign when he and teammate Ryan Cox combined in Shane Waltons scoring effort in the 1-0 win over Northwestern.
IRISH LOOK TO CONTINUE STRONG ROAD PERFORMANCE – Coach Mike Berticellis squad will for its second and third road wins of the season at Rutgers and Villanova this weekend. The Irish opened up with a strong 3-1 effort at Syracuse in their BIG EAST opener. Notre Dame was 4-4-2 on the road last season, but the winover the Orangemen marked the second time in three years that the Irish posted a victory in their road opener. Two years ago, Notre Dame earned its first-ever BIG EAST road win with a 1-0 victory at Providence. In 1997, the Irish opened up with a 0-0 stalemate at Pittsburgh.
BIG EAST FIGURES PROMINENTLY IN POLLS – For the second consecutive week, the BIG EAST has five teams in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll. Notre Dame, which was 15th a week ago, fell to 16th in this weeks ranking. Connecticut is the highest-ranked BIG EAST team as the Huskies are tied for sixth. Georgetown is also ranked in the top 10 as the Hoyas hold down the number nine spot. St. Johns is two spots in back of the Hoyas as number 11, while Seton Hall is the fifth and final BIG EAST team in the poll at 24.
IRISH FACE CONSECUTIVE ROAD SWINGS FOUR TIMES THIS SEASON – Notre Dames back-to-back games at Rutgers and Villanova will be the first of four occasions in which the Irish have successive road contests. The Irish also play back-to-back road contests against Western Michigan (September 29), Georgetown (October 3), Santa Clara (October 9), St. Marys (October 11), Providence (October 21) and Boston College (October 24).
SHOT GUN – In its first four contests, Notre Dame has outshot (66-36) and outscored (12-4) its opponents. The Irish have only been outshot in one game this season – Pittsburgh (20-13).