Irish forward Joe Lapira netted the only goal in Notre Dame's 1-0 win over the Mexican U-17 National Team last spring.

#7 Men's Soccer Faces #10 St. John's On The Road Saturday

Oct. 15, 2004

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#12/7 Notre Dame at #10/22 St. John’s, Saturday, Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Irish and Red Storm hook up for first place in the BIG EAST:

The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (10-2-1, 5-1-0 BIG EAST), ranked as high as seventh in the nation (Soccer America) begins a crucial Fall Break road trip on Saturday, Oct. 16, with a match at #10/22 St. John’s at 7:30 p.m. A rematch of last season’s BIG EAST Championship final game, in which the Irish defeated the Red Storm 2-0, Saturday’s game will be a battle for first place and the inside track on the conference regular-season title.

Notre Dame enters this weekend’s match in unfamiliar territory. A recent six-match win streak (all coming in shutout fashion) has put the Irish in first place in the BIG EAST Conference. The 5-1-0 start the conference slate is the best-ever for Notre Dame and the 10-2-1 start to the season is the best in 16 years (in 1988 Notre Dame started 10-1-2). The Irish have never been in first place in the conference standings this late in the season and are facing St. John’s for the first time while sitting above the Red Storm in the conference standings.

The Irish also are entering Belsom Stadium on Saturday, a site in which Notre Dame is 0-5-0 since its first appearance there in 1995.

The last time…

Notre Dame faced St. John’s was Nov. 16, 2004, in Storrs, Conn., at the BIG EAST Championship .. the Irish and Red Storm locked up in the final match, with the Irish claiming their second conference title (and first since `96) with a 2-0 victory.

What you need to know about Notre Dame this weekend:

• Notre Dame is looking for its first BIG EAST regular-season conference crown and a win over the Red Storm would be a big step forward toward that goal.

• The Irish are 6-0 in their last six matches and have not surrendered a goal since preseason All-American Kevin Goldthwaite returned to the defensive lineup.

• The defense has been playing well in front of GK Chris Sawyer, but when challeneged Sawyer has been up for the task. He has seven shutouts this season and brings a 555-minute scoreless minute streak into Saturday’s match.

St. John’s team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and St. John’s will be meeting for the 13th time on Saturday … the Red Storm leads the all-time series 8-2-2, including a 5-0-0 record at home … Notre Dame’s victories in the series came at Alumi Field in 2000 (1-0) and in the BIG EAST Championshp final last season (2-0) … Saturday’s match is the first visit to Belsom Stadium for Notre Dame since 2002, a 1-0 loss … the Red Storm are 6-3-4 on the season, 4-1-2 in the BIG EAST and are coming off a 1-1 tie with Villanova on Wednesday, Oct. 13 … St. John’s is ranked 10th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings and 20th in Soccer America … Andre Schmid has been the offensive star for St. John’s this season, leading the team with four goals and five assists … Bill Gaudette should be in goal for the Red Storm, he has a 0.69 goals-against average and 34 saves in 45 shots on goal.

Megna earns first career BIG EAST award:

Junior forward Tony Megna has been named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career, as announced by the league office on Monday, Oct. 11. Megna scored two of Notre Dame’s three goals in its victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Oct. 7, and was a constant threat during a 1-0 overtime win against Syracuse.

Megna, from Middleton, Wis., has developed into one of Notre Dame’s top scoring threats this season after a sophomore season in which he started 20 games but did not score a point. He has reversed that trend in 2004 and is currently tied for the team lead in goals scored with five (including two game winners).

The BIG EAST weekly award is the first of his career.

Irish poll watch:

Notre Dame debuted this season in both the adidas/NSCAA and Soccer America polls at #9. The ninth-ranking was the highest preseason ranking for Notre Dame men’s soccer in the adidas/NSCAA poll (the Irish were ranked third in the preseason last year by Soccer America).

This week the Irish are seventh in the Soccer America poll and 12th in the NSCAA rankings.

Two other national polls have been updated as well, with the Irish #9 in the Top 25 and #13 in the College Soccer listing.

Notre Dame reached as high as third in both the adidas/NSCAA and Soccer America polls last season – the highest ranking in the program’s history.

St. John’s will be fifth ranked team Notre Dame will face this season:

The Red Storm enter this weekend’s contest ranked 10th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings and 22nd in the Soccer America poll, making St. John’s the fifth 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 in their three other matchups with ranked teams (1-0 over #21 Villanova, 1-0 over #9 Boston College, 3-0 over #22 Michigan).

Notre Dame is 15-10-3 (.589) 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.

Six shutouts in six matches:

Notre Dame’s surge to the lead of the BIG EAST Conference has comevia six-straight shutout victories. The string began with a 1-0 victory at #21 Villanova, followed by 1-0 over #9 Boston College, 4-0 over Loyola Chicago, 3-0 over Pittsburgh, 1-0 over Syracuse and 3-0 over #22 Michigan.

The six-match streak is the second-longest of the Bobby Clark Era (since `01) at Notre Dame. The 2001 team won six in a row from Oct. 5 – Oct. 24 to match this recent string, while last season’s BIG EAST Championship team won eight straight before being eliminated from the NCAA Championship in the Sweet 16.

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

Notre Dame’s stifling defense over the last five games (entering this week) has pushed the Irish to fourth in the nation in goals-against average (0.48). The Irish also are 11th in shutout percentage (0.58) and 12th in winning percentage (.792).

Individually, senior GK Chris Sawyer is ranked fifth in the nation in goals-against average (0.489).

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. 11):

All games – Notre Dame is first in the league in shots with 235 (19.58 per game) … the Irish are third in goals scored with 20 (1.67) … they are also third in points with 58 (4.83) and goals per game (1.67) … the Irish are tied for first with Boston College for goals allowed (six) … 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 second in the league in home attendance with an average of 1,269 … Notre Dame also is second in the league in overall attendance, averaging 1,566.

All games, individual – Justin McGeeney is second in shots per game with 3.67, followed closely by teammate Tony Megna with 3.00 … Megna is seventh in the league in points with 10 … McGeeney leads the league in game-winning goals with four … Chris Sawyer’s 0.49 goals-against average is the best in the BIG EAST.

Conference only – Notre Dame leads the league in shots per game with 18.67 – almost 40 more than St. John’s in second place … the Irish also lead the league in goals scored (10), points (28), goals per game (1.67) and goals-against average (0.32).

Conference only, individual – Megna is tied for first in shots per game with 3.00 É he is also third in points with six and second in goals with three … Ian Etherington has two assists in conference play, good for sixth (five players have posted three assists in league play) … McGeeney is tied for first in game-winning goals with two (at #21 Villanova, vs. #9 Boston College) … Sawyer is second in shutouts with four.

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 rattled off six straight shutout victories – including 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) 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 two 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 0.45 goals-against average this season, seven shutouts and carries a 555-minute scoreless streak into this weekend’s match with St. John’s.

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 and Soccer America. College Soccer 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 50-18-8 at Notre Dame (.710) 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 203-81-33 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

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.