Nov. 15, 2001
Notre Dame, Ind. – First-year head Bobby Clark, who guided the Notre Dame men’s soccer team to a second-place finish in the final BIG EAST regular season standings, has been named the BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year. In addition, a record five Irish players were selected for all-conference honors.
Junior forward Erich Braun (Frankfurt, Germany) and sophomore midfielder Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) were first-team all-conference honorees, while senior defender Griffin Howard (San Diego, Calif.) and freshman goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) were selected to the all-conference second team. In addition, sophomore midfielder Chad Riley (Houston, Texas) earned third-team all-conference honors.
Clark is just the second coach in BIG EAST history to earn the annual award in his first year in the league as he directed the Irish to a 12-5 overall record and 7-3 conference mark, the most conference wins by an Irish team since joining the league in 1995. The Irish, winners of nine of their last 10 games, are ranked in both the NSCAA/adidas (20th) and Soccer America (17th) polls this week for the first time since the 1996 campaign.
Clark and the Irish went 9-1 in October and November after starting the season 3-4 in the month of September. In his 15th season as a head coach, Clark’s record stands at 165-68-25 (.688).
Braun and Detter become the second and third players in Irish soccer history to earn first-team all-conference honors. Braun, the 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, stands atop the Irish scoring charts in 2001 with a team-leading 12 goals and three assists for a team-best 27 points. He has scored a goal in all but two games in which the Irish have scored this season.
Detter, who was a BIG EAST All-Rookie team selection a year ago, is one of three players who has started all 17 games this season. He currently is tied for third in scoring on the Irish with four goals and five assists.
Howard earns all-conference honors for the first time in his career as a second-team selection. A 17-game starter and Irish captain, he has a goal and as assist this season. In addition, he has helped anchor an Irish defense that has produced eight shutouts this year.
Sawyer is one of just three freshmen to earn a spot on one of the all-conference teams. He has played 13 games in goal for the Irish and has been the team’s starting goalkeeper in Notre Dame’s last 12 contests. Sawyer has posted six complete-game shutouts in 1114:45 minutes logged, while giving up just six goals. He owns a 0.48 goals against average and .882 save percentage as he has made 45 saves in 13 contests.
Riley, a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie squad in 2000, has started 15 of 17 contests this season and leads the team with six assists to go along with his one goal.
Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed in the 2001 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship which is taking place in Storrs, Conn., will face No. 3 seed St. John’s in the first semifinal game on Fri., Nov. 15 at 5:00 p.m., while No. 1 Connecticut meets No. 4 seed Rutgers in the other semfinal matchup. The Irish are making their third appearance in the conference semifinals since 1995.