Junior forward Jeff Farina

#9 Irish Welcome Valpo For Annual Grassroot Soccer Tilt

Aug. 21, 2016

by Tony Jones

2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER — Exhibition Match (Grassroot Soccer)
#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-6 in 2015) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (7-6-5 in 2015)

DATE: Aug. 22, 2016
TIME: 5 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Indiana (Alumni Stadium – cap. 2,500)
BROADCAST: ACC Network Extra
TICKETS: Free admission, with donations to Grassroot Soccer accepted at the gate of Alumni Stadium and during the match.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With the 2016 regular season drawing ever closer, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team makes its first fall appearance at Alumni Stadium to host Valparaiso on Monday in the final preseason Irish scrimmage. The 5 p.m. (ET) exhibition contest is scheduled to air live via ACC Network Extra.

No. 9 Notre Dame, chosen to finish second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division and third overall in the league after a vote by ACC head coaches released on Aug. 17, has played a pair of full 90-minute matches thus far during preseason camp, drawing 0-0 at SIUE on Aug. 14 before dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Bradley on Aug. 17. The Irish did claim a 2-1 victory over Bradley in an abbreviated reserves match prior to the full-squad matchup.

“I was pretty happy with the way both of these games went,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “Even though we lost a game against the Bradley Braves I thought we played very well. I thought we controlled big portions of that game, and that was a big game there. They had close on 2,000 people, they are a very emotional team, they’re a tough team and are well organized and well coached.”

A familiar foe awaiting Notre Dame on Monday is Valparaiso, who despite not meeting the Irish in an official match since 1999 has faced Notre Dame numerous times in spring friendlies since the arrival of head coach Mike Avery. Avery, entering his 10th season at the helm of the Crusaders, was a key member of Clark’s staff early in his tenure at Notre Dame.

“This year Valparaiso came to our mini tournament in the spring but we didn’t play them because we knew of this game, but we always keep our ties with Mike Avery,” Clark said. “Mike was my assistant coach here for five years, he and Brian Wiese who’s the head coach at Georgetown, and both have gone on and done great jobs. All of my assistants have gone on and done a great job, my son Jamie at Washington, and Chad Riley of course is at Dartmouth, so we’ve been lucky.”

The final exhibition scrimmage for Notre Dame also marks the 13th annual Grassroot Soccer (GSR) benefit game. Admission to Alumni Stadium is free for the match, with donations accepted toward Grassroot Soccer at the stadium gate and throughout the night.


Grassroot Soccer is an international organization dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV, and was founded by Clark’s eldest son, Tommy. Soccer is one of the organization’s main educational tools used in communities to reinforce HIV awareness, and is a cause that both Notre Dame and Valparaiso have embraced as their signature charitable initiative throughout the years.

“Mike has a Grassroot Soccer game every year, so it’s nice that we can actually share it here on Monday,” Clark said. “For those who don’t know what Grassroot Soccer is it’s an organization that uses soccer as a medium to both test and educate Africans about HIV. When we went to Zimbabwe two years ago we were actually involved in the on the field Grassroot clinics, so our guys saw it up close.

“Notre Dame men’s soccer will match all (Monday) donations, so if you want to put me out of pocket come and put in a big donation,” Clark said. “We’ll match it and give a great donation to Grassroot Soccer.”

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.

Split At Bradley In Exhibition Stop #2

Despite falling in the regulation game by a 1-0 final score, Notre Dame downed Bradley 2-1 in an abbreviated match on Aug. 17. Sophomore Sean MacLeod found the back of the net in the sixth minute to put the Irish on the board, and freshman John Rea added an insurance tally in the 23rd minute of the Notre Dame win.

In the late game, Notre Dame outshot Bradley by a final count of 13-5, including 5-1 in tries on goal, with the Braves earning the winning goal in the 75th minute.

Irish Unbeaten At Home In Exhibitions During The Clark Era

Entering Monday’s matchup with Valparaiso, Notre Dame has not been defeated in fall exhibition contests played on campus since Bobby Clark assumed the helm of the Irish in 2001. Notre Dame is 11-0-3 (.893) in 14 such matches under Clark that have taken place at both old Alumni Field and the current Alumni Stadium.

Scouting Valparaiso

Valparaiso, picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League preseason coaches poll, returns nine starters from its 2015 team that notched a 7-6-5 record. Isaiah Madrid paced all Crusaders with five goals and two assists (12 points) last season, while fellow returner Matthew Gweh added three goals and three assists for nine points. Reigning Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Nico Campbell logged a 0.76 goals against average and posted eight shutouts over 18 starts in 2015.

Head coach Mike Avery has guided Valparaiso to a 64-70-36 (.483) record over his first nine years with the Crusaders, which included four straight Horizon League Championship match appearances from 2011-14. Avery spent six seasons as a Notre Dame assistant coach from 2000-05.

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.

Irish Preparing For Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament Next Weekend

Notre Dame will host the 14th Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament on Aug. 26-28 to officially open the 2016 regular season. The Irish face UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 26 before taking on New Mexico at 2 p.m. on Aug. 28. Indiana will be the fourth team involved in the scheduled round robin.

The tournament is held in honor of the former Irish head coach who compiled a 104-80-19 record during his 10-year stint at Notre Dame. Berticelli led the Irish to three NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994, 1996), including the program’s first NCAA win in 1996. He guided Notre Dame to one Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) regular-season title (1993) and two MCC tournament crowns (1993 & 1994). Berticelli also steered Notre Dame to its first BIG EAST tournament title in 1996.


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.