May 16, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team officially concluded the 2005-06 season recently with its annual awards banquet. Several former players returned to take part in the festivities, which included alumni games and a tribute to the 1996 BIG EAST championship squad. The weekend also put a cap on the spring exhibition season for the Irish that gave a preview as to what the 2006 team will look like. Notre Dame will continue the foundation for the 2006 campaign with an upcoming 14-day journey to Brazil.
Over 170 players, parents, alumni and friends gathered for the 2005-06 Notre Dame men’s soccer banquet on April 29 on the fifth level of the football stadium press box. Along with a tribute to the 1996 Fighting Irish squad, the night also featured a farewell to former assistant coaches Brian Wiese and Mike Avery, who recently took new positions at Georgetown and Louisville, respectively. The duo officially passed the torch to new Irish assistants Jamie Clark and Chad Riley.
Rising senior midfielder Greg Dalby picked up Team MVP honors, while departing senior forward Tony Megna was presented with the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award. Fellow senior Justin Michaud, a goalkeeper, was given the Spirit Award for being an inspirational team member throughout this past season and all four of his years at Notre Dame. The 2005 season was special for the Irish as they made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for just the third time in program history and concluded the campaign ranked 15th in the final NSCAA poll.
The 2006 Notre Dame captains were also announced and fifth-year senior Dale Rellas and Dalby will serve as captains for the second straight season. Rellas has been plagued with injuries over the course of his Fighting Irish career, yet he and Dalby hope to lead Notre Dame to another BIG EAST title and beyond in ’06.
Former Irish standout Peter Gansler presented the Mike Berticelli Award to Tony Capasso for being the alumnus who had contributed the most to Notre Dame soccer over the past year. Capasso was the driving force behind getting the ’96 championship squad back together. Bruce Novotny, last year’s winner, assembled a highlight video from that special season in which Notre Dame captured its first-ever BIG EAST title under the guidance of the late Mike Berticelli.
Earlier in the day, Notre Dame’s 1996 BIG EAST championship team fell 2-0 to the current varsity squad. Making their return to Alumni Field was Gerrick Short, Peter Gansler, Nino Berticelli, Mark Dolan, Brian Engesser, Joe Gallo, Konstantin Koloskov, Chris Mathis, Bill Savarino, Ryan Turner and Scott Wells, while Capasso served as the team’s coach.
The second alumni contest featured many recent graduates in Chris Sawyer, Griffin Howard, Greg Martin, Justin Detter, Filippo Chillemi, Devon Prescod, Roger Klauer, Rafael Garcia, Ray Prado, Justin Ratcliffe, Tim Storino, Dan Storino, Luke Boughen, Steve Maio, Dustin Pridmore, Reggie McKnight and Rob Snyder. The current Irish prevailed once again with a 4-1 victory.
The scoring output in the two alumni games was fitting because that is how the Irish concluded their 2006 spring season. Notre Dame’s offense started out a little slow during the `06 spring campaign, yet picked up the pace at the end. The Irish began with a three-game mini-tournament, which had the team posting 0-0 ties against Michigan State and Northern Illinois before capturing a 1-0 victory versus Oakland on a Bright Dike goal.
The Fighting Irish then played Indiana and Bethel College to 0-0 ties in full-length games before piecing together a fine offensive display in a 5-0 win over the Mexico Under-17 National Team. Rising senior Justin McGeeney deposited two goals in the win and Ryan Miller, Kyle Dulworth and Dike also added single tallies.
The offensive explosion continued on into the final three-game mini-tournament as the Irish defeated IPFW 2-0, behind goals from Dalby and McGeeney. Following a 0-0 tie with Loyola (Ill.), Notre Dame crushed Valparaiso 5-0 with McGeeney picking up another two scores, while Dike, Nate Norman and Ian Etherington chipped in with one apiece.
The Fighting Irish players and coaches look to keep that momentum going as they embark for Brazil on Monday, May 22 for a trip that features five games against under-21 professional teams. Not only will the Irish be playing against top-level competition, they will also watch four pro matches, including a game at the fabled Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. During his days on the Scottish National Team, Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark’s squad played against Brazil in the historic stadium.
Here is the Fighting Irish game schedule for the trip to Brazil:
Game 1: Notre Dame vs. Santos F.C.Game 2: Notre Dame vs. Sao Paulo F.C.Game 3: Notre Dame vs. E.C. PinheirosGame 4: Notre Dame vs. E.C. PalmeirasGame 5: Notre Dame vs. Botafogo F.C.
Check und.com for diary entries from some of the Irish players as they share their experiences from Brazil.