Oct. 12, 2004
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team, ranked as high as seventh in the country, carries a five-match win streak into Wednesday’s match with #19 Michigan at Alumni Field. The game will serve as a rematch of last season’s NCAA Championship Sweet 16 contest at Alumni Field, when the Irish were eliminated by the Wolverines 1-1 on penalty kicks.
The Irish are playing some of their best soccer of the season and have surged to the top of the BIG EAST Conference standings with a 5-1-0 record in league play. Notre Dame’s overall record stands at 9-2-1 – the best start to a season in 16 years and the team’s record in league play is the best in the program’s history over the first six games (Notre Dame began BIG EAST competition in 1996). As an added note, all five of Notre Dame’s recent victories have come in shutout fashion (1-0 over #21 Villanova, 1-0 over #9 Boston College, 4-0 over Loyola-Chicago, 3-0 over Pittsburgh and 1-0 over Syracuse).
Follow Men’s Soccer Live on www.und.com:
Notre Dame men’s soccer fans can keep up with the action from Alumni Field Wednesday night in two different fashions. Live Audio will be available for subscribers of the College Sports Pass with Notre Dame student John Welsh providing play by play and commentary during the match.
Gametracker, which offers up-to-the-minute statistics from the game will also be available on www.und.com.
Tony Megna Named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week:
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 leading the team in goals scored with five (including two game winners).
The BIG EAST weekly award is the first of his career.
Tough Schedule Ahead for the Irish:
Notre Dame will face a daunting schedule over the next two weeks as the collegiate soccer regular season begins to wind down. With the University on Fall Break next week, the Irish will spend the week on the road facing a gauntlet of BIG EAST Conference foes. After Wednesday’s matchup with #19 Michigan, Notre Dame will head to #22 St. John’s on Saturday, Oct. 16. That match will be followed up by another tough game at Seton Hall on Oct. 20 and the road trip ends at Rutgers on Oct. 23.
All three teams Notre Dame will face on the road have been ranked at some point during the 2004 season and are solid candidates for NCAA Tournament berths. The schedule doesn’t ease up when the Irish return home, as Connecticut and Michigan State will visit Alumni Field to end the regular season.
Irish Move Up to Seventh:
Notre Dame has moved up to seventh in the nation, according to the Soccer America Top 25 released on Oct. 12. The Irish are riding a five-game win streak (all coming via shutouts) and have moved up from 14th in the Soccer America listing on Sept. 28. The NSCAA/adidas rankings were unavailable at the time of this release.
Senior D Kevin Goldthwaite entered the 2004 season with high expectations. One of the top attacking defensive players in the nation and a preseason All-America selection by Soccer America, Goldthwaite was poised for a memorable senior campaign.
A knee injury suffered in practice before Notre Dame’s first regular season game appeared to have ended Goldthwaite’s season, but a concerted effort at rehabilitation eventually just delayed Goldthwaite’s arrival.
Since joining the team full time at #21 Villanova (after missing the season’s first seven game), Goldthwaite has helped the team post five consecutive shutouts. He has contributed two assists and been named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 4) and was a member of Soccer America’s Team of the Week on Oct. 6.
Notre Dame Fourth in the Nation for Goals-Against Average:
Notre Dame’s stifling defense over the last five games 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:
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 … 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.
Last time vs. Michigan:
The Irish and Wolverines met in the Sweet 16 at Alumni Field last season … Michigan eliminated Notre Dame from the tournament 1-1 on penalty kicks … here is a recap of last season’s contest:
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (16-3-4) was eliminated from the NCAA Championship by Michigan 1-1 (4-3 penalty kicks) in the third round on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003. It was not the end the Irish were looking for to their sensational season, as the Wolverines were bolstered by their physical play and two great penalty kick stops by goalkeeper Peter Dzubay.
Notre Dame struck first in the contest when Justin Detter collected a long pass from Greg Martin and beat Dzubay at 16:57. Michigan came back under four minutes later when Mike White slipped behind the Irish defense and beat Irish keeper Chris Sawyer at 20:11
The game became a battle of attrition the rest of the way, as Michigan’s physical play limited the flow of the contest. The foul total would end up at 33 for the Wolverines, while the Irish were whistled just eight times.
The Irish came out in the second half aggressive, but could not get the go-ahead goal. Notre Dame out shot the Wolverines 9-1 in the second half and the Irish defense quickly snuffed out any scoring chances for the visitors. In the end, the shots would end up at 24-11 in favor of Notre Dame.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the game switched to a best-of-five penalty kick format for the opportunity to advance in the tournament. Filippo Chillemi, Chad Riley and Greg Martin all were successful for Notre Dame, while Kevin Taylor, Adam Bruh and Brian Popeney converted for Michigan.
Devon Prescod followed for Notre Dame and was denied by Dzubay. Michael O’Reilly was next for Michigan, but his attempt sailed over the cross bar.
Again, Dzubay stepped up to stuff an Irish attempt, this time off the foot of Detter. White then put the winning conversion past Sawyer.
Michigan Series History and Team Analysis:
Notre Dame and Michigan will be meeting for the fifth time on Wednesday … the Irish lead the all-time series 3-0-1 (the NCAA elimination last year is credited officially as a tie) … the meeting in the NCAA Championship last year was the first for the two teams since 1986 … Notre Dame won the first three meetings in the series in 1977 (4-2), 1978 (2-1) and 1986 (3-2) … all four of the previous meetings in the series have been played at Alumni Field … Mychal Turpin and Bobby Trybula have led the Michigan offense so far in 2004 with four goals each … Joe Zawacki has seen a majority of time in goal (660:40, 0.95 goals-against average), while Peter Dzubay is 4-0 in four starts with a 0.49 goals-against average.
Next up for the Irish:
Notre Dame will hit the road for three consecutive road games. A full and complete weekly release previewing next week’s contests will be released on Thursday, Oct. 14.