Head coach Bobby Clark brings a talented and experienced Irish squad into the 2009 campaign.

Fighting Irish Earn 12th Seed For NCAA Championship

Nov. 17, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame received the No. 12 seed and a first-round bye for the upcoming NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship. The Fighting Irish will play host to the winner of the Northwestern/Loyola (Ill.) match in the second round on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Field.

The Irish will be making their eighth straight NCAA Championship appearance and the 12th trip overall in program history. This signified the fifth time in which the Fighting Irish have earned one of the 16 seeds in the 48-team field. Notre Dame was the 10th seed last season. The Irish also were the 12th seed in 2007 and the fifth seed in both 2003 and 2004.

Last season, the Irish advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight season. Notre Dame knocked off Oakland (2-1) and Santa Clara (2-0) in the second and third rounds, respectively, before falling at eventual national champion Wake Forest 1-0 in overtime.

The Fighting Irish will carry a 12-6-2 record into this year’s NCAA Championship. Notre Dame captured the BIG EAST Blue Division title with a 7-2-2 league record. That marked the second consecutive Blue Division crown for the Irish. Notre Dame fell at South Florida, 2-1, in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on Friday.

Notre Dame is 9-0-1 at home this season. Overall, the Fighting Irish are riding a 13-game unbeaten streak at Alumni Field.

Leading the way for the Irish is senior forward Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North), who has team-high totals in goals (12) and total points (29). Dike and senior defender Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) were first-team all-BIG EAST selections this season. Earning second-team all-conference accolades were senior defender Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) and junior midfielder Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./Blue Valley West). Sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain), the team leader in assists with six, was a third-team pick. Besler and Traynor have helped the Irish defense post seven shutouts, while Thomas has 20 points on eight goals and four assists.

Head coach Bobby Clark has led the Fighting Irish to an NCAA Championship berth during all eight of his seasons at Notre Dame. The Irish have advanced to the Round of 16 on four occasions and the quarterfinals twice under Clark. Notre Dame’s all-time NCAA Championship record is 9-10-1 and 8-6-1 during Clark’s tenure.

Northwestern has a 13-4-2 mark, while Loyola (Ill.) is 12-6-3. Northwestern will play host to Loyola on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 p.m. (CT).

Five BIG EAST teams earned berths into the NCAA Championship field. Joining the Irish are St. John’s, South Florida, Connecticut and Louisville. The BIG EAST has three top 12 seeds for the third time since the NCAA began naming 16 top seeds in the bracket in 2003.

Wake Forest garnered the top seed in the 2008 NCAA field, while Maryland and St. John’s are the second and third seeds, respectively. The Fighting Irish faced a total of 10 teams that qualified for this year’s tournament and they own a 5-6-1 mark against those squads. Notre Dame played both Louisville and South Florida twice, posting a win and a loss against each team.

Notre Dame tied St. John’s (0-0) in their only meeting. The Irish squared off against five other seeded teams, No. 4 Michigan State (W, 3-0), No. 5 Akron (L, 3-0), No. 6 Indiana (L, 3-1), No. 11 Michigan (L, 3-1) and No. 16 Dartmouth (W, 2-1). The Irish topped South Florida 5-0 on Sept. 5 before falling to the Bulls in the BIG EAST final.

For more information on the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship, including a full bracket, log on to NCAAsports.com. Stay up-to-date on the Fighting Irish men’s soccer team by logging on to und.com.