Jack Stewart (above) and Kevin Goldthwaite have been named two of 15 finalists for the Hermann Trophy - the men's college soccer player of the year award.

#5 Men's Soccer Continues Road Trip This Week At #17 Seton Hall

Oct. 20, 2004

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#5/12 Notre Dame at #17/NR Seton Hall, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 3 p.m.

#5/12 Notre Dame at Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.

Irish continue BIG EAST road trip at Seton Hall and Rutgers this week:

The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (10-2-2, 5-1-1 BIG EAST) will complete its three-match road trip this week with matches at #17 Seton Hall (Wednesday) and Rutgers (Saturday). The Irish are looking to strengthen their hold on first place in the BIG EAST standings, facing the Pirates (9-4-1, 4-3-0) and Scarlet Knights (5-6-3, 2-3-2) on each team’s home field.

Notre Dame currently sits in first place in the conference standings with a 5-1-1 league record. Boston College is next with a 5-3-0 record, followed by St. John’s (4-1-3), Villanova (4-2-2), Seton Hall (4-3-0), Georgetown (4-3-0), Connecticut (3-1-1) and West Virginia (3-4-0). The top eight teams in the league will make up the BIG EAST Championship field, with the top four teams hosting first round play on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Notre Dame has never won the BIG EAST men’s soccer regular season title and is in first place this late in the season for the first time ever. Notre Dame’s highest BIG EAST Conference regular-season finish was second in 2001. The Irish won the BIG EAST Championship crown in 2003 and 1996.

Notre Dame moves up to fifth in the NSCAA poll:

The Irish, winners of six of their last seven and undefeated in the last seven matches, have moved up to fifth in the latest release of the NSCAA/adidas Top 25. The #5 ranking is the highest for the team in that poll this season. Notre Dame is currently 12th in the Soccer America top 25 and has been ranked as high as fourth (Sept. 7) in that poll.

With the #1 ranked an undefeated women’s soccer team, Notre Dame joins Virginia as the only school in the nation to have both the men’s and women’s soccer teams ranked in the top five nationally.

Notre Dame also has moved to first in the Great Lakes Regional poll conducted by the NSCAA, moving ahead of Indiana for the first time this season.

The last time…

Notre Dame faced Seton Hall was at Alumni Field in 2002 (the two teams were not scheduled during BIG EAST play last season) … the Irish posted a 4-0 victory in that match … the last time Notre Dame faced Rutgers was at Alumni Field last season and the Scarlet Knights came away with a 5-2 victory … the last time Notre Dame played a match on the road vs. Seton Hall was Sept. 29, 2001, a 1-0 Pirate victory in overtime … Notre Dame’s last visit to Rutgers (the site of this year’s BIG EAST Championship) the two teams battled to a 1-1 overtime tie.

What you need to know about Notre Dame this weekend:

• Notre Dame is in the running for its first BIG EAST Conference regular-season crown and hopes to strengthen its position with two impressive road performances.

• The Irish are also looking to secure a spot in the BIG EAST Championship and finish in the top four in the conference standings – assuring the team a home game in the first round of the league tournament.

• Notre Dame has not lost in its last seven matches, which included a six-match shutout streak. St. John’s broke the shutout streak in a 1-1 overtime tie on Oct. 16 in New York.

• Notre Dame is looking for its first victory over Rutgers in seven matches, as the last victory over the Scarlet Knights was earned in 1997.

Seton Hall team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and Seton Hall will be meeting for the 12th time … the Irish lead the all-time series 6-4-1 … the teams are even at Owen T. Carroll field, as the series is at 3-3-1 on Seton Hall’s home pitch … the teams did not meet last season, but Notre Dame’s 4-0 victory in 2002 broke a three-match winless streak for the Irish against Seton Hall … the Pirates are 9-4-1 this season and 4-3-0 in BIG EAST Conference play … Jerrod Laventure has scored eight goals this season to go along with five assists (21 points) … Boris Pardo (5-3-0, 720 minutes) and Ian Joyce (4-1-1, 560 minutes) have split time in goal for Seton Hall this season.

Rutgers team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and Rutgers will be meeting for the 14th time on Saturday … the Scarlet Knights lead the all-time series 9-3-1 … Notre Dame is winless (0-6-1) against Rutgers in the last seven meetings dating back to 1997 … the two teams have met twice in the BIG EAST Championship final match, in 1996 (a 1-0 Notre Dame victory) and 1999 (a 2-0 Rutgers victory) … Notre Dame is 1-6-1 at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field … the Scarlet Knights are 5-6-3 this season and 2-3-2 in BIG EAST Conference play … Chris Karcz and Scott Gahagan have paced the offensive attack with three goals each … Lubos Ancin will be in goal on Saturday and boasts a 0.72 goals-against average with 29 saves.

Seton Hall will be the sixth ranked team Notre Dame will face this season:

The Pirates enter Wednesday’s contest ranked 17th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings, making Seton Hall the sixth ranked opponent on the Irish schedule.

One of Notre Dame’s two losses have come to a ranked team, a 2-0 setback at #1 Indiana on Sept. 15. The Irish have posted a win and a tie in their four other matchups with ranked teams (1-0 over #21 Villanova, 1-0 over #9 Boston College, 3-0 over #22 Michigan, 1-1 at #10/22 St. John’s).

Notre Dame is 15-10-4 (.586) vs. ranked teams under Bobby Clark.

Clark posts 50th victory at Notre Dame:

Bobby Clark won his 50th game at Notre Dame on Wednesday, Oct. 13 vs. #22 Michigan. Clark reaches 50 wins just days after claiming his 200th career collegiate coaching victory vs. Loyola Chicago on Oct. 3.

Clark, the fifth coach in the history of the program, reaches the 50-win barrier faster than all but one of his predecessors.

Notre Dame’s first men’s varsity soccer coach Rich Hunter needed 64 games to reach 50 wins in 1977-78-79. Clark has reached 50 wins in 71 games.

Sawyer’s scoreless minute streak ends at 623:

Notre Dame’s opponents went more than six matches without touching Irish goalkeeper Chris Sawyer for a goal, but #10/22 St. John’s finally broke the scoreless minute streak in the second half of a 1-1 tie on Oct. 16.

Sawyer’s streak eventually ended at 623 minutes. He is currently ranked fifth in the nation for goal-against average (0.483).

Notre Dame fourth in the nation for goals-against Average:

Notre Dame’s stifling defense over the last seven games (entering this week) has pushed the Irish to fourth in the nation in goals-against average (0.48). The Irish also are 10th in shutout percentage (0.57) and ninth in winning percentage (.786).

Individually, senior GK Chris Sawyer is ranked fifth in the nation in goals-against average (0.483).

Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Statistics:

With the conference schedule well under way, some statistical trends are starting to develop. The BIG EAST Conference releases statistics in two categories – one set that includes each game and another which factors in conference games only. Here is a look at Notre Dame’s ranking in several different categories (as of Oct. 18):

All games – Notre Dame is first in the league in shots with 270 (19.29 per game) … the Irish are third in goals scored with 24 (1.71) … they are also third in points with 69 (4.93) and goals per game (1.71) … the Irish are second in the league in goals allowed with seven … Notre Dame’s goals-against average is the best in the league at 0.48 and the team’s seven shutouts rank second to St. John’s with eight … the Irish are third in the league in home attendance with an average of 1,233 … Notre Dame also is second in the league in overall attendance, averaging 1,517.

All games, individual – Justin McGeeney is second in shots per game with 3.50, followed closely by teammate Tony Megna with 2.77 in fifth place … McGeeney is tied for the league lead in game-winning goals with five … Chris Sawyer’s 0.48 goals-against average is the best in the BIG EAST.

Conference only – Notre Dame leads the league in shots per game with 17.71 … the Irish also lead the league in goals scored (11), are second in points (30), tied for first goals per game (1.57) and are first goals-against average (0.40).

Snapshot of the Irish:

Notre Dame graduated 35 of its 38 goals scored last season and was expected to spend the beginning of the `04 campaign searching for a dedicated scoring threat. While the goal scoring issue was in doubt for a portion of the year, Notre Dame has recently found its stride and posted a seven-game unbeaten streak which included six straight shutout victories – three over ranked opponents (1-0 vs. #21 Villanova, 1-0 vs. #9 Boston College, 3-0 vs. #22 Michigan).

The one factor which changed for Notre Dame from the West Virginia loss to the Villanova victory (followed by five more wins and a tie) was the return of senior D Kevin Goldthwaite to the left side of the Irish defense. A preseason All-America selection by Soccer America, Goldthwaite injured his knee in practice before Notre Dame’s first regular-season contest and missed the first seven matches of the season. Since his return to the lineup, he has provided two assists and the Notre Dame defense has not allowed a single goal.

Notre Dame’s two forwards, sophomore Justin McGeeney and junior Tony Megna, are starting to play like veterans – never mind the fact that niether scored a goal before this season.

McGeeney leads the team with five game winners – including two straight at #21 Villanova and vs. #9 Boston College. Megna was on fire recently vs. Loyola Chicago and Pittsburgh – scoring four goals in the two matches – but was sidelined vs. Michigan with a leg injury. He is considered day-to-day at this point.

Another player who has emerged as a spark for the Irish is sophomore MF Ian Etherington. Capable of scoring on his own, setting up teammates or dropping in a perfect free kick, Etherington has three goals and four assists this season.

Senior MF Luke Boughen also has been strong of late and is tied for the team lead with four assists. He scored his first goal of the year vs. #22 Michigan.

Preseason All-Americans Jack Stewart (middle defender) and Chris Sawyer (goalkeeper) have lived up to the hype as well. Stewart has been masterful in defense for the Irish and carried the team with two goals in the first weekend at the IU Credit Union Classic.

Sawyer has a 0.48 goals-against average this season, seven shutouts and posted a 623 scoreless minute streak in `04.

Sawyer and Stewart named to the 2004 Hermann Trophy watch list:

Two Notre Dame men’s soccer players have been named to the 2004 Hermann Trophy Watch List, the most prestigious honor in intercollegiate soccer. Senior goalkeeper Chris Sawyer and senior central defender Jack Stewart joined 23 other players from across the country to be considered among the top talents in the nation and ones to watch for outstanding play during the ’04 season.

Sawyer and Stewart were two of four BIG EAST Conference players on the list, joining St. John’s Matt Groenwald and Boston College’s Guy Melamed. With two players on the watch list, Notre Dame joins defending national champion Indiana, North Carolina and UCLA as the only four teams in the nation to have two players on the Hermann list. Sawyer and Stewart also become the first Notre Dame players in school history to be named to the men’s Hermann Watch List.

Sawyer matched the school record for shutouts last season with 12, including an impressive three straight in the BIG EAST Championship, helping the Irish secure the program’s first conference title since 1996. Sawyer was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player after the tournament, a trophy that fit well next to his BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Compiling a 485-minute scoreless minute streak early in the 2003 season, Sawyer eventually played all but 10 minutes of Notre Dame’s matches last season. He held Notre Dame’s opponents to one or zero goals in 20 of 23 matches. Sawyer was also named the 2004 Preseason BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year.

Playing just a few yards in front of Sawyer last year, Stewart anchored the Irish defense as a central defender and will continue in that role for 2004. Known throughout collegiate soccer as one of the best defenders in the nation, Stewart excels in the air and is one of the most physical and intense players on the team. The Torrance, Calif., native has moved up from his defensive position to score two goals and dish off two assists in his career.

A list of 15 semifinalists will be announced in November, with three finalists selected in early December. A winner will be announced at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis, Mo., on Jan. 8, 2005.

Preseason All-America honors:

Notre Dame has landed three preseason All-America honors by College Soccer News.com and Soccer America. College Soccer News.com named GK Chris Sawyer to its preseason All-America first team, while D Jack Stewart was named to the third team. Soccer America picked defender Kevin Goldthwaite for its preseason All-Amercia team.

Bobby Clark quick biography:

Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark is in his fourth season at Notre Dame. He has led the Irish to at least 12 wins each season and the 2003 BIG EAST Championship. Overall, he is 50-18-9 at Notre Dame (.707) and helped the Irish qualify for the NCAA Championship tournament for an unprecedented third-straight season in `03.

Winning has been synonymous with Clark’s teams where ever he has coached. His Dartmouth teams (1985-93) posted an 82-42-13 (.646) record over nine years and three Ivy League Championships. At Stanford, Clark put up an 82-42-13 (.646) mark in nine years and finished second in the NCAA Championship in 1998.

Overall, Clark has compiled a 203-81-34 collegiate record (.692) and has landed seven teams in the final national rankings.

The Irish established their motto of `Making History’ early in the 2003 season and that goal was achieved in remarkable fashion. Notre Dame earned its highest-ever preseason ranking in 2003 (third in the Soccer America ranking) and highest-ever in-season ranking in both major polls (third in both polls). Notre Dame also earned its first-ever bye in the NCAA Championship and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third-straight season – another unprecedented achievement.

Clark recently reached a coaching milestone when the Irish head man earned his 200th collegiate coaching victory with a 4-0 win over Loyola-Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 3. He also grabbed his 50th victory at Notre Dame in just four seasons on Oct. 13, 2004, against #22 Michigan.

Please see p. 12-15 of the 2003 Notre Dame men’s soccer media guide for a more detailed historical biography on Clark.

Keep up with the Irish via the Notre Dame hotline:

The Notre Dame athletic department hotline has realigned its menu offerings for the 2004 fall sports season.

The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the live coverage and game recaps already provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com.

Here’s how the hotline is aligned (as of Aug. 28):

*Dial (574) 631-3000

*Select any of the following subgroups:

(1) Upcoming schedule and recent results of ALL varsity sports currently in action (select cells 3-9 for the most updated results for specific sports).

(2) 2004 Football schedule.

(3) Basketball information (then press 1 for men’s basketball and 2 for women’s basketball)

(4) Soccer information (then press 1 for men’s soccer and 2 for women’s soccer).

(5) Women’s volleyball (press 1) and men’s ice hockey (press 2) information.

(6) Men’s and women’s cross country information.

(7) Men’s and women’s swimming and diving information (then press 1 for men’s swimming and 2 for women’s swimming).

(8) Tennis information (then press 1 for men’s tennis and 2 for women’s tennis) and men’s and women’s fencing information (press 3).

(9) Women’s golf (press 1), men’s golf (press 2) and women’s rowing (press 3) information.