May 24, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team officially concluded a very successful 2006-07 campaign recently with its annual awards banquet. Several former players returned to take part in the festivities, which included alumni games and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of men’s soccer as a varsity sport at Notre Dame. The weekend also put a cap on the spring exhibition season as the Irish defeated the Mexico Under-20 National Team 1-0.
Over 200 players, parents, alumni and friends gathered for the 2006-07 Notre Dame men’s soccer banquet on April 28 in the Joyce Center arena. The 2006 season was a significant milestone for the program as the Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the first time ever. Junior forward Joseph Lapira also became the first player in team history to win the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s top player. Lapira led all NCAA Division I men’s players with 22 goals and 50 points.
The first head coach of the Fighting Irish, Rich Hunter, presented Lapira with the Notre Dame Monogram Club Team MVP award, while rising junior Cory Rellas was given the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award. Graduating senior and All-American Greg Dalby received the Spirit Award for being an inspirational team member throughout his stellar four-year career at Notre Dame.
Former Irish players Tom Crotty (Class of `80) and Ken Harkenrider (`84) presented the Mike Berticelli Award to Ted Schwartz (’84). Schwartz was the driving force behind getting over 100 alumni back for the 30th anniversary celebration. Another highlight of the evening was the video produced by Bruce Novotny (`84) on the founding of Notre Dame soccer as a varsity sport back in 1977.
The weekend of festivities began with the current Irish squad facing off against the Mexico Under-20 National Team. This marked the third consecutive year that Notre Dame has squared off against a Mexican National Team. The previous two seasons, Notre Dame downed the Mexico U-17 squad, while this year the Irish topped the U-20s 1-0 on a goal from Ryan Miller off an Alex Yoshinaga corner kick.
The Mexico match marked the final contest of the spring season for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame opened the spring slate by traveling to Bradenton, Fla. during the University’s spring break. The Irish played New Mexico to a 1-1 tie before falling to Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC 3-0. Notre Dame rebounded with a 5-0 win over the U.S. Under-17 squad.
Notre Dame then returned home and went 1-0-2 in a mini-tournament by defeating Western Michigan (2-1) and tying DePaul (0-0) and Oakland (1-1) in games that lasted 50 minutes apiece. The Irish then traveled to Indianapolis to take on their intrastate rival Indiana. The Hoosiers prevailed 2-0 in less than ideal conditions that featured sleet, snow and wind. In their final match before taking on the Mexico U-20s, the Irish fell 3-0 to the Columbus Crew from the MLS.
The spring season gave the Irish a look at what is in store for the 2007 campaign. Leading the offense was Rellas and Bright Dike with two goals apiece. Justin Morrow, Tamba Samba and Kurt Martin along with Yoshinaga, Lapira, Miller all netted single tallies for the Irish during exhibition play this spring.