Ian Etherington collected the assist on Luke Boughen's game-winning goal the last time Notre Dame and Rutgers met. The Irish captured a 1-0 victory over the Scarlet Knights during the 2004 season.

#9 Men's Soccer Looks To Strengthen Its BIG EAST Position With Two League Games This Weekend

Oct. 6, 2004

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#15/9 Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh, Thursday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m.

#15/9 Notre Dame vs. Syracuse, Sunday, Oct. 10, 1:00 p.m.

Irish hope to strengthen position in the BIG EAST Conference with two league home games this weekend:

The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (7-2-1, 3-1-0 BIG EAST), ranked as high as ninth in the nation and playing its best soccer of the season, welcomes BIG EAST Conference opponents Pittsburgh (Thursday) and Syracuse (Sunday) this weekend. The Irish are riding a three-match winning streak, which includes 1-0 victories over #21 Villanova and #9 Boston College followed by a 4-0 win over Loyola Chicago.

Notre Dame has moved into second place in the conference standings with its victories over Villanova and Boston College – two teams that occupied first place in the standings before facing the Irish. The win over Boston College actually moved Villanova (3-2-1 in BIG EAST play) back into first place, just one point ahead of Notre Dame (3-1-0), St. John’s (3-1-0) and Boston College (3-2-0) (see page six of this release for updated BIG EAST standings).

Key contests in the BIG EAST this week include Seton Hall at Boston College (Oct. 6), Rutgers at St. John’s (Oct. 6) and Connecticut at St. John’s (Oct. 9).

Live coverage of Irish men’s soccer:

Notre Dame men’s soccer fans looking to keep track of the action this weekend and are unable make the trip to Alumni Field have two options for monitoring the action. For the Notre Dame – Pittsburgh match, Gametracker will be available (this is the only home match of the season when live audio will not be offered due to a scheduling conflict). Live audio and Gametracker will be available for Sunday’s match against Syracuse. Notre Dame senior John Welsh provides the play by play and commentary for Notre Dame’s home contests this season.

The last time…

Notre Dame faced Pittsburgh was Oct. 5 last season, when the Irish won in Pittsburgh 2-0 … `04 graduates Justin Detter and Chad Riley scored the goals in the victory … that win broke a five-match winless streak against the Panthers … the last time Notre Dame faced Syracuse was Oct. 2 last season … the Orange battled the Irish to a 0-0 scoreless tie in Syracuse.

What you need to know about Notre Dame this weekend:

•Notre Dame is hoping to solidify its position in the BIG EAST Conference standings this weekend. The Irish have recovered from a 1-0 upset loss at West Virginia to defeat #21 Villanova and #9 Boston College in its last two conference matches.

• The Irish are off to their best start since the 1988 season with a 7-2-1 record. Notre Dame opened the `88 campaign 9-0-1 and eventually made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament that season.

• Notre Dame has started 3-1-0 in the BIG EAST Conference for the second straight year, the second-best record in its first four BIG EAST games since the `97 team began 3-0-1.

Pittsburgh team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will be meeting for the ninth time on Thursday … the Panthers lead the all-time series 3-2-3 … Notre Dame’s 2-0 victory last season broke a five match winless streak for the Irish vs. Pittsburgh (three ties, two losses) … Notre Dame’s last win over Pittsburgh at Alumni Field came in 1996 (3-0) … since then, there has been a tie (2-2) in `98 and two Pittsburgh victories (3-2 in `00, 1-0 in `02) … Pittsburgh is 3-2-3 this season and 1-1-1 in the BIG EAST Conference … the Panthers earned their first league victory last week vs. Seton Hall … Billy Brush leads the team in goals with four, while Keeyan Young has proven to be the scoring catalyst with three goals and four assists this season … Justin Lowery has seen a majority of the action in goal, posting a 1.24 goals-against average and 30 saves.

Syracuse team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and Syracuse will be meeting for the 10th time on Sunday, Oct. 10 … the Irish lead the all-time series 6-2-1 … the Orange battled Notre Dame to a 0-0 tie in Syracuse last season … that tie broke a four-match winning streak in the series for Notre Dame … Syracuse is 2-7-0 in `04 and 0-3-0 in the BIG EAST … six different players have scored goals for the Orange this season, led by two from Pete Rowley … both Rich Scheer and Alim Karim have seen action in goal for Syracuse this season … Scheer is 2-4-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average while Karim is 0-3-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average.

Goldthwaite and Sawyer earn weekly honors:

Senior D Kevin Goldthwaite and senior GK Chris Sawyer have both nabbed weekly honors by various collegiate men’s soccer organizations this week, paying tribute the duo’s effort in Notre Dame’s recent three-match win streak.

Goldthwaite has earned the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week award for the first time this season, as announced by the league office on Monday. Goldthwaite played a key role in Notre Dame’s last three wins – which coincided with him returning to the field after missing the first seven matches of the season with an injury. The Sacramento, Calif., native also was named to the College Soccer News.com Team of the Week on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Goldthwaite has helped the team shutout its last three opponents since his return to the lineup and he has given the Irish offense a shot in the arm with two assists in three games.

Sawyer has been named the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week for the first time in 2004. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native will carry a 273 scoreless minute streak into Notre Dame’s match with Pittsburgh on Oct. 7. With Notre Dame’s defense playing well in front of him, Sawyer was asked to make just three saves last week against Boston College and Loyola Chicago. His two saves against the Eagles were game-changers, however, snuffing out two of BC’s most dangerous opportunities in the game.

Irish poll watch:

Notre Dame debuted 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 ninth in the Soccer America poll and 15th in the NSCAA rankings.

Two other national polls have been updated as well, with the Irish #9 in the SoccerTimes.com Top 25 and #14 in the College Soccer News.com 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.

Snapshot of the Irish:

Notre Dame has started to hit its stride as of late, posting three impressive shutout victories to improve to 7-2-1 on the season.

Notre Dame is off to its best start in 16 years, as the 1988 team began 9-0-1 on the way to becoming the first Notre Dame men’s soccer team to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Irish have utilized a balanced attack this season, with eight different players scoring at least one goal.

Sophomore Justin McGeeney has proven to be the most dangerous attacker for Notre Dame with four goals and an assist so far this season. He also leads the team with four game winning goals – including two in a row over #21 Villanova and #9 Boston College.

Junior Tony Megna is McGeeney’s running partner at the front of the offense and logged his first career two-goal performance against Loyola-Chicago. Freshman Joe Lapira and sophomore Brian Murphy have both given the Irish attack a boost off the bench this season.

The midfield is patrolled by a bevy of talented players, anchored in the middle by a combination of sophomore Greg Dalby, junior John Stephens and senior Luke Boughen.

Attacking from the outside, sophomore Ian Etherington has three assists and a goal, while rookie Alex Yoshinaga has played well with three goals and an assist. One-on-one specialist sophomore Nate Norman has also seen extensive action on the outside of the midfield.

Perhaps Notre Dame’s strength this year is its defense, which boasts two All-American-type players in seniors Jack Stewart and Kevin Goldthwaite. The Irish were without the services of Goldthwaite for the first seven matches of the year, but since his return Notre Dame has shutout three opponents to claim three consecutive victories. Both Stewart and Goldthwaite are among the best in the nation at their positions.

Senior Christopher High has picked up where he left off last season, filling in for injured projected starter Dale Rellas. High has been strong at times this season and has moved forward to score the first goal of his career. On the right side of the defense has been sophomore Ryan Miller, who missed his rookie year with an injury. Miller has been steady.. so steady in fact that his rest time given during Notre Dame’s 4-0 win over Loyola Chicago was the first time out of the lineup for Miller this season.

In goal, Chris Sawyer has lived up to the preseason All-America hype, allowing just six goals for a 0.59 goals-against average. His defense limits the save opportunities, but Sawyer has been ready when the time comes and has compiled 10 saves so far this season. Though Sawyer does not come out of the game often, junior Justin Michaud has looked good in relief (17:33 minutes played, two saves).

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.

Notre Dame will face a challenging schedule once again in 2004: Notre Dame is set to meet several ranked teams this season and have already posted a 2-1 record against #1 Indiana (0-2 loss), #9 Boston College (1-0 OT victory) and #21 Villanova (1-0 win).

#13 Michigan will visit Alumni Field on Oct. 13 and regionally ranked Michigan State will appear at Alumni Field on Nov. 2.

The Irish will face their biggest challenge during the team’s traditional fall break trip through the BIG EAST Conference. Notre Dame will take on #13/20 St. John’s (Oct. 16), #23 Seton Hall (Oct. 20) and Rutgers (Oct. 23) on the road over a seven-day stretch. The Irish will then wrap up their BIG EAST schedule at home on Oct. 30 against Connecticut.

Notre Dame is 14-10-3 (.574) against ranked teams under Bobby Clark, including victories over #4 St. John’s (`03), #9 Virginia Tech (`03), #5 Connecticut (`02), #6 Seton Hall (`02), #7 Furman (`02), #6 Indiana (`01) #21 Villanova (`04) and #9 Boston College (`04).

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 47-18-8 at Notre Dame (.699) 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 200-81-33 collegiate record (.689) 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.

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.

2004 Notre Dame Player Bio Updates:

* – please see the Notre Dame men’s soccer media guide for more information on Notre Dame players.

#1 Chris Sawyer

2004 Awards: Hermann Trophy Watch List selection … BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year … preseason all-BIG EAST selection … adidas/IU Credit Union Classic all-touranment team … College Soccer News.com preseason All-American … BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week (10-04-04).

2004 Accomplishments: Carries a 273 scoreless minute streak into this weekend’s games … has helped shutdown #21 Villanova (1-0), #9 Boston College (1-0) and Loyola Chicago (4-0) … recorded first shutout of the year vs. Boston University in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic (2-0 Irish victory) … did not allow a goal to CS Fullerton in as Notre Dame and the Titans battled to a 0-0 scoreless tie in two overtimes … has faced 28 shots on goal this season, making 19 saves and allowing six goals (0.59 goals-against average) … has 24 shutouts in his career currently, closing in on Bert Bader’s career record of 32 from 1991-94.

#2 Ryan Miller

2004 Accomplishments: Notre Dame’s starting right back … third on the team in minutes played with 910.

#3 Kevin Goldthwaite

2004 Awards: Soccer America Preseason All-America … BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week (10-04-04).

2004 Accomplishments: Returned to the lineup full time against Villanova on Sept. 26 after missing the first seven matches of the season with an injury … has helped Notre Dame post three shutouts in the first three matches he has played this year … nabbed two assists in Notre Dame’s 4-0 victoy over Loyola-Chicago, pushing his career total to 23, good for fifth on the all-time list at Notre Dame (Randy Morris is the career leader with 40, Bill Lanza is fourth with 25).

#4 Joe Lapira

2004 Accomplishments: Scored the first goal of his career, the game winner, against Georgetown in his first career BIG EAST contest… provides a spark off the bench for the Irish offense.

#6 Greg Dalby

2004 Awards: Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament all-tournament selection.

2004 Accomplishments: Has been a steady influence in the Irish midfield … contributed first assist of the season (and his career) on Alex Yoshinaga’s first goal against Georgetown … has the ability to move back to central defense and also become an attacking midfielder … increased his aggressiveness this season, taking 14 shots so far (including two on goal).

#7 Ian Etherington

2004 Accomplishments: Has appeared at both left and right midfield … leads the team with three assists … assisted on the third and fourth goals of Notre Dame’s 4-1 victory over Georgetown in the BIG EAST opener for Notre Dame … scored the second goal of his career against Loyola-Chicago, putting the Irish up 2-0 in an eventual 4-0 victory.

#8 Luke Boughen

2004 Accomplishments: One of Notre Dame’s starting central midfielders … logged his first assist of the season on Alex Yoshinaga’s second goal vs. Georgetown.

#9 Justin McGeeney

2004 Awards: BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 29) … adidas/IU Credit Union Classic all-tournament team selection.

2004 Accomplishments: Expected to be a goal scorer for the Irish in `04 and has delivered with his first three career goals … carded the game-winner in Notre Dame’s victory at #21 Villanova, scoring just two minutes into the second half … came right back the next match to log another game winner vs. #9 Boston College, scoring just two minutes into overtime in a 1-0 Irish victory … leads the team in shots with 36, including 15 on goal … scored the game winning goal vs. Oregon State and Evansville.

#11 Tony Megna

2004 Accomplishments: Posted his first career two-goal game vs. Loyola-Chicago, scoring the game winner and adding another to put the Irish up 3-0 … one of Notre Dame’s starting forwards … scored his first career goal in Notre Dame’s 4-1 victory over Georgetown … has the ability to attack and put pressure on the opposing defense … second on the team with 30 shots, including 14 on goal.

#13 Jack Stewart

2004 Awards: Hermann Trophy Watch List selection … Soccer America Team of the Week (Sept. 9) … preseason all-BIG EAST selection … adidas/IU Credit Union Classic all-tournament team … Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament all-tournament team … BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 6).

2004 Accomplishments: Led Notre Dame to a 2-0 record at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic with two goals in two games during the tournament … has scored on two of his six shots on goal … posted the game-winning goal vs. Boston University.

#14 John Stephens

2004 Accomplishments: Used as relief in the midfield for the Irish … has recorded the first two assists of his career in 2004 … keyed Notre Dame’s winning play vs. #9 Boston College with a great set piece free kick into the box, setting up Justin McGeeney’s rebound goal in the 1-0 Irish victory.

#16 Ben Crouse

2004 Accomplishments: Has stepped in to fill the role of injured left back Kevin Goldthwaite … has moved forward well, getting off seven shots … fits well into Notre Dame’s system of attacking defenders.

#17 Christopher High

2004 Accomplishments: Picked up in `04 where he left off in `03, filling in for an injury in the central defense … scored his first career goal in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Evansville … has shown an increased aggressiveness in 2004 and has moved up for seven shots, including two on goal.

#19 Alex Yoshinaga

2004 Accomplishments: Second on the team in scoring with three goals and an assist for seven points … has scored on three of his five shots on goal … one of the team’s top options for set piece kicks and corner kicks … scored twice in his first career BIG EAST game vs. Georgetown, tieing the game at 1-1, then putting the Irish up 3-1 in an eventual 4-1 victory … scored his third career goal in Notre Dame’s 4-0 victory over Loyola-Chicago … assisted on Jack Stewart’s goal vs. Oregon State – the first of the year for the Irish.

#20 Nate Norman

2004 Awards: Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament all-tournament team selection.

2004 Accomplishments: Has one goal and two assists this season … an excellent one-on-one player capable of dribbling past defenders … can created dangerous scoring chances off the dribble … six of his 11 shots attempted this season have been on goal.

#22 Dale Rellas

2004 Accomplishments: Projected starter for the Irish sidelined for the second time in his career for a foot injury.

#25 Brian Murphy

2004 Accomplishments: Has been utilized as a forward substitute to give the Irish offense some energy off the bench … extremely skilled in the air with his head … logged his first career assist on Justin McGeeney’s game-winning goal vs. Evansville … picked up the second assist of the season/career against Georgetown on Joe Lapira’s game-winning goal … five of his seven shots this season have been on goal.