March 12, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The spring season is a crucial time for development for college soccer teams, and the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer program has lined up a challenging schedule that surely will provide stiff competition and a chance to improve.
The Fighting Irish will play eight exhibition games over the next seven weeks culminating with the annual showdown against a national team from Mexico. This year’s affair will pit the Fighting Irish against the Mexico under-17 squad on April 24 at Alumni Stadium.
“The spring season is such an important time for our team,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “This is really when we lay the foundation for next season. If we don’t do it now, we only have a two-and-a-half week preseason in soccer. It’s impossible to lay the foundation in that time so this is a critical time for our program.”
The Irish opened their spring slate Tuesday with a 1-0 setback to the Chicago Fire. Notre Dame will return to the pitch March 21 with matches against Michigan State and Oakland at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan.
The Fighting Irish will play at Xavier on March 28 and then they will square off against instate rival Indiana April 11 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
On April 19, the Fighting Irish will have their first home contests of the spring when they play host to Western Michigan and Valparaiso at Old Alumni Field.
“The other great thing about the spring is that we play everybody,” Clark states. “This is when we evaluate players who didn’t manage to get a great opportunity in the past season. We try to see where they stack.
“We take the spring very, very seriously and we try to get as good of a schedule as we can. We started with the Chicago Fire as we always try to play an MLS team. That really challenges us and it’s usually the first game. We also try to play the double games so we can play 11 (players) in one game and another 11 in the second game. That means everyone is playing and it really gives a good opportunity to evaluate the whole squad.”
This spring marks the 10th time in the last 11 years that Notre Dame has hosted one of the national teams from Mexico. The Fighting Irish are 6-2-1 in these contests, including a 4-1-1 mark against Mexico’s U-20 squad. Notre Dame has topped the Mexico U-20s, 3-2, each of the last two years. The marquee match always brings a stellar crowd to Alumni Stadium, and it’s a great way to put the cap on another Fighting Irish campaign.
“The Mexican population in the area loves to come out and see their national team,” Clark says. “It’s a great atmosphere to finish our season with. It’s also a very good challenge because the Mexican teams are very technical and very talented.”
Notre Dame captured the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in 2014 and garnered the top overall seed for the NCAA Championship. The Irish fell to eventual national champion Virginia, 1-0, in the Round of 16 to finish with a 12-5-4 (6-1-1 ACC) record.
2015 University of Notre Dame Men's Soccer Spring Schedule
March10 Tues. at Chicago Fire 1 p.m. (CT)
21 Sat. vs. Michigan State (Pontiac, Mich.) 12:30 p.m. (ET) vs. Oakland (Pontiac, Mich.) 2 p.m. (ET)
28 Sat. at Xavier 1 p.m. (ET)
April11 Sat. vs. Indiana (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) 6 p.m. (ET)19 Sun. WESTERN MICHIGAN 1 p.m. (ET) VALPARAISO 2:30 p.m. (ET) (both games at Old Alumni Field)24 Fri. MEXICO U-17 NATIONAL TEAM 7 p.m. (ET) (Alumni Stadium)
24-25 Fri.-Sat. Alumni Weekend
Home matches in BOLD CAPS
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director