Aug. 13, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER — Exhibition Match
#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-6 in 2015) vs. SIUE Cougars (12-4-2 in 2015)
DATE: Aug. 14, 2016
TIME: 6:30 and 8 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Edwardsville, Illinois (Korte Stadium – cap. 3,000)
LAST MEETING: No regular season meetings
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – At the conclusion of the first week of fall training for the 2016 season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team inches ever closer to its opening exhibition test of August. The Irish travel to Edwardsville, Illinois for a scrimmage showdown on Sunday against SIUE at Korte Stadium after opening with two-a-day training sessions this past Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of teaching needing to be done, and this is what I call the teaching time for the young freshmen that are coming in,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s been a bit warm for the first few days of camp, but you push through it. The volume hasn’t been high but we’ve been out here trying to make sure we’re focused and keep a high standard. It’s not easy, certainly not the afternoon sessions, but you’ve got to keep working at it and keep the focus. I think we’re coming along and am very pleased with where the first sessions have opened.”
Notre Dame welcomes 12 monogram winners back to its roster in 2016, including returnees who accounted for 28 of 37 Irish team goals last season. Leading scorer Jon Gallagher (nine goals and 21 points) and top assists contributor and tri-captain Evan Panken (nine assists) remain the foundation of the Notre Dame attack, along with strikers Jeffrey Farina (three goals, five assists in 2015), Thomas Ueland (four goals in 2015) and Mark Gormley (three goals in 2015).
Senior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard (0.82 goals against average, 10 total shutouts in 2015) will man the Notre Dame net for the second straight season along with a veteran group of defenders. Center back Brandon Aubrey is the most experienced of the Irish returners with 55 career match appearances (42 starts), notching a career-high eight points with three goals and two assists in 2015. Right back and tri-captain Michael Shipp (22 starts, five points), center back and tri-captain Matt Habrowski (17 starts, three points) and center back Patrick Berneski (nine appearances, one goal) complete the veteran core of the Irish back line.
“The seniors and the upperclassmen are doing a good job,” Clark said. “We try to spread it around and never put a first team and a second team out just now. We mix the squads, and the purpose is that there are rookies and the experienced guys together. You’re hoping that the experienced guys get these rookies whipped into shape as soon as they can, and some of the rookies have already done exceptionally well.
“We’ve got to keep it going heading up to scrimmage SIUE,” Clark said. “It’s tough any time you go away from home. Mario Sanchez is an excellent coach and he’ll have his team very well prepared. This will be a good, early test for us.”
SIUE logged a 12-4-2 record in 2015, reaching the championship match of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament. The Cougars return leading scorer Devyn Jambga (six goals, 14 points in 2015) and leading assists man Mohamed Awad (five assists) this season, along with goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo (0.43 GAA, nine shutouts.
“We’re going to play three 45-minute halves, and one of the 45-minute periods will be completely the younger players,” Clark said. “It’s a chance to see where we are, and we will do a similar thing when we go to Bradley (Aug. 17). It’s very important that we get outside and not practice amongst ourselves. During your weeks of preseason training you have to get a feel for where everyone is almost immediately, and we have good players. We’re pretty excited to play.”
Season and single game tickets for the 2016 Notre Dame men’s soccer season are on sale now. Visit und.com/tickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 for more information or to purchase tickets.
Meet The 2016 Irish
Notre Dame was ranked ninth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll that was released on Aug. 2. The Irish closed 2015 as the No. 11 team in the final NSCAA rankings. Notre Dame is one of five Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams included among the initial NSCAA top 10, joining No. 3 Clemson, No. 5 Wake Forest, No. 6 Syracuse and No. 8 North Carolina.
A total of 12 monogram winners, including eight players who were regular starters, return for Notre Dame following an 11-5-6 campaign that saw the Irish finish as ACC Championship runner-up and NCAA Championship Round of 16 qualifier in 2015.
Senior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard did not surrender a goal over the first 530 minutes of his Notre Dame career to open 2015, posting five shutouts against No. 13 Maryland, No. 14 Indiana, No. 24 South Florida, UAB and No. 9 Clemson. Hubbard’s five straight clean sheets were the second-most by a goalkeeper in program history.
Notre Dame welcomes seven freshmen to its roster in 2016. Forwards Spencer Farina and John Rea, midfielders Jack Casey, Nick Cullen and Tommy McCabe, defender Senan Farrelly and goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull are all new additions to the Irish for the upcoming season.
Band Of Brothers Usher In The 40th Season
The 2016 campaign marks the 40th official season of Notre Dame men’s soccer after the program was elevated to varsity status in 1977.
Over the first 39 varsity Irish squads, Notre Dame has posted a 508-238-94 (.661) record, claiming seven regular season conference championships, six conference tournament championships, 18 NCAA Championship appearances and the 2013 NCAA College Cup crown.
No Shortage Of Offensive Talent Back On The Pitch
A total of nine players who found at least one goal for Notre Dame in 2015 are back in the fold this season, including 28 of the 37 overall Irish goals that were scored and 82 of a possible 112 points.
Junior forward Jon Gallagher, who was an NSCAA All-South Region second team and all-ACC third team selection in 2015, led the way with nine goals and three assists for a team-high 21 points last season. Fifth-year senior midfielder/tri-captain Evan Panken established a career-high with nine assists to finish with 13 points, and junior forward Jeffrey Farina chipped in three goals and five assists to also finish in double figures with 11 points.
SIUE returns 14 players from its 2015 squad that finished 12-4-2 and reached the championship match of the MVC tournament. Head coach Mario Sanchez enters his second season at the helm of SIUE after assuming the post in January of 2015. Sanchez was previously the head coach at UNLV, and held assistant positions at Louisville, Akron and Fresno State.
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.