Irish head coach Bobby Clark sees a bright future for his recently signed class.

Irish Men's Soccer Signs Six Student-Athletes To Letters Of Intent

Feb. 8, 2006

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark has announced the signing of six student-athletes to national letters of intent. Dave Donohue (Reading, Mass./Cushing Academy), Justin Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius), Tamba Samba (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis), John Schaefer (Troy, Mich./Detroit Jesuit High School), Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas), and Philip Tuttle (Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy) make up the class of 2010 for the Fighting Irish.

“This is a great class,” says Clark, who has a 65-27-13 overall record in his five years at Notre Dame. “I don’t know where people will rank this class, but we certainly rank it as one of the best recruiting classes that we’ve ever taken at Notre Dame. It’s a class we’ve certainly seen play, but we’ve also gotten to know many of them as people as well from our camp. We feel very, very excited about the group as players and as human beings.”

“We are going to have a very strong senior class this year (in 2006),” says Clark. “We have one more year with that class so we are going to need a strong freshman class to pick up the slack if we are going to maintain the form that Notre Dame soccer has produced in recent years.”

Dave Donohue, MF, 5-9, 160 (Reading, Mass./Cushing Academy)

A three-time Western New England prep school all-star at Cushing Academy … named his team’s offensive player of the year during his senior season … two-time captain of his prep squad … selected to the 2004 and 2005 Massachusetts all-state team … earned 2005 MVP honors from his U18 team, the Boston Bulldogs … also captained the Bulldogs to the U18 state championship and the U18 Super Y-League national championship … selected to the Super Y-League National Pool … a Northeast Super Y-League ODP regional pool selection in 2003 and 2004 … helped to lead the U17 Boston Bulldogs team to the 2004 US club soccer regional championship.

Donohue on choosing Notre Dame: “The University of Notre Dame is a dream come true. It has an outstanding academic program, a top-notch soccer program, and an exceptional coaching staff. I look forward to getting a great education at one of the top universities in the country and being part of the rich tradition at Notre Dame.”

Clark on Donohue: “Dave’s performance at our camp is really what brought him to prominence for us. Our volunteer coach Methembe (Ndlovu) worked with him when he was a 15-year old and Methembe gave him a very high recommendation. We really didn’t take full notice until we saw him play at our summer camp and we thought he was one of the top players there.”

Justin Morrow, MF/F, 5-10, 160 (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius)

An NSCAA/adidas 2005 high school All-American … runner-up for the Ohio state player of the year award in 2005 … a two-year all-greater Cleveland selection … a 2005 all-star selection at the Notre Dame Elite Camp … a three-year starter for St. Ignatius High School … helped lead his team to back-to-back Division I state championships in 2004 and 2005 … his prep team has posted a 72-6-8 record during his career, including a current stretch of 30 games in which St. Ignatius has gone undefeated and untied … his squad was ranked No. 1 nationally in the NSCAA/adidas polls for the entire 2005 campaign … a two-time member of the ’87 Region II ODP team pool … member of the Cleveland Soccer Academy club team … Super Y-League ODP national team player in 2004 and 2005 … Super Y-League North American finals select team in 2005 … member of the National Honor Society … his father wrestled at Ohio University and his mother played field hockey at Ohio University.

Morrow on choosing Notre Dame: “I chose the University Notre Dame because I really like the coaching staff and it seems like it’s a good fit. I also believe in a lot of things that the University stands for such as: tradition, dedication and faith.”

Clark on Morrow: “Justin is another guy that we saw play at our Elite Camp. He’s an outstanding player. He was an All-American out of Ohio this year as he helped his high school to two consecutive state championships. He’s an excellent athlete who makes good decisions and he’s also left-sided, which is also a bonus because he gives a team a nice balance. He has a lot of talent.”

Tamba Samba, F, 5-10, 178 (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis High School)

A 2005 first-team all-Indiana selection … led his Ben Davis High School team in scoring as a junior and senior … as a senior captain, he led Ben Davis to its first-ever sectional championship and state ranking … holds school record for most goals in a season with 21 and is a two-time Mr. Offense award winner for the Giants … was an all-Marion County selection during his junior and senior campaigns and was an honorable mention selection as a sophomore … earned Star West Player of the Year honors as a senior along with being named to the Indianapolis Star Super Team … a member of the `87 ODP squad … his team won the 2004 regional ODP championship and placed third in the ODP national championship in Texas … played in the Region II National League with his club team, Westside United … 2004 Region II Director Cup champions along with being the 2005 State Cup runner-up with Westside United … also served as the kicker on the Ben Davis football team in 2004 and 2005 … earned honorable mention all-state honors during his senior season as he led his team in points … has earned academic all-state honors and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Samba on choosing Notre Dame: “I’m really looking forward to playing at Notre Dame. I love every thing about the University. I love the South Bend-area, it’s not too big yet not too small. I believe Notre Dame is the perfect fit for me. The soccer coaching staff is great. They have experience and have a lot they can pass on to me. I know that I’ll reach my potential under Coach Clark.”

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing college life at Notre Dame. Graduating with a Notre Dame degree would be the ultimate. I really can’t wait to get on the pitch with all the guys.”

Clark on Samba: “He caught our eye at the same Olympic developmental tournament that we saw Justin (Morrow) at. He’s an outstanding forward. He’s big and strong and a good athlete. He holds the ball well and he has a good touch on the ball. We saw him and we liked him and then he sold himself on us when he came to our camp. He was another lad who was one of the outstanding players at our camp.”

John Schaefer, D, 5-11, 165 (Detroit, Mich./Detroit Jesuit High School)

Four-year varsity starter and letterwinner at Detroit Jesuit High School … two-year team captain and team MVP … voted to the 2005 Michigan `Dream Team’ and Detroit all-metro team as a senior … earned Michigan Division I first-team honors both his junior and senior seasons … all-Catholic as a junior and senior along with being named all-district as a sophomore … a ten-year member of the Vardar Soccer Club and helped to lead them to nationals in 2005 after being crowned Region II champions … solidified the team’s defense for five straight appearances in the regionals … team captured the Michigan State Cup on four occasions … a four-year member of the Michigan ’88 ODP state team … two-year Region II player pool … two-year SYL ODP regional pool … a Scholar Athlete during his freshman-senior years … an excellent student and a member of the National Honor Society along with being involved in the student senate at Detroit Jesuit High School.

Schaefer on choosing Notre Dame: “I chose to attend Notre Dame because of its highly-ranked academic programs, its rich Catholic history and tradition, and for the opportunity to play for and learn from one of the nation’s most prominent soccer coaches, Bobby Clark.”

Clark on Schaefer: “John is from Michigan so I’ve seen him play many times. He is a very solid and strong player. He’s fast and a good athlete. He’s strong in the air and very combative. We think he can turn into an excellent defender.”

Michael Thomas, MF/D, 5-10, 185 (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas)

A 2005 NSCAA/adidas All-American … all-Midwest region first team … first-team all-state selection in Kansas … was named the player of the year by the Kansas City Star … named team MVP and most inspirational player for his 2005 St. Thomas Aquinas squad … received honorable mention distinction for the academic all-state team … has started for the varsity squad at St. Thomas Aquinas since his freshman year and served as a co-captain as a senior … owns school records for career goals, career assists and total career points along with goals and points in a single season … co-captain of his Region II ODP team … has international experience as he has already competed in a tournament in Italy and will travel to Spain for another tournament this April … also serves as a co-captain on his Kansas State ODP squad … has been invited to participate in the adidas ESP camp … is an All-American, along with being a co-captain, for his KC Legends club team.

Thomas on choosing Notre Dame: “I chose Notre Dame because of the atmosphere that I felt while I was around the campus at all times. Not only did the campus make me feel at home, but the people that I met made me feel like I was already a part of Notre Dame. The style of soccer Notre Dame plays and the way the team acts as a family was a major factor. The coaches and players were extremely nice to me. The coaches are the perfect type of coaches I love to play for.”

“I want to come out of Notre Dame a smarter, successful, and more mature person than I already am right now. I feel like Notre Dame can turn me into that person because of the “family” atmosphere that floats around campus.”

“Having a good friend who already plays for them was also a factor. Matt Besler, who is a year older than me, helped me out a lot. He would always keep me informed. Knowing that a good friend, who I can easily get along with, already belongs to Notre Dame made me feel 100-percent positive that I should go there. I’ve always told myself that I would love to play with Matt and now that opportunity has come and I can’t wait for it.”

Clark on Thomas: “We saw him play for his club team and then for the regional Olympic developmental team and we thought he was arguably the most outstanding player on view. He’s very strong and a tough competitor but also has excellent skills. He can play in the midfield but can also play in the back. Just to show you what he can do, he was the top scorer at his high school even though he was a defender. He’s another All-American out of Kansas and that makes it the second year in-a-row that we’ve taken an All-American player out of Kansas as we did so last year with Matt Besler.”

Philip Tuttle, GK, 6-0, 200 (Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy)

A 2005 Notre Dame Elite Camp all-star selection … captained his Brewster Academy club along with receiving the Coach’s Award team MVP during his senior season … participated in the 2005 New England prep school all-star game … was named to the 2005 Boston Globe prep all-scholastic soccer team … plays for the Seacoast United Premier U17 team … Seacoast United is ranked No. 7 in Region I and No. 27 nationally … a 2003 Super Y ODP New England Division U15 Team and a 2004 Super Y ODP New England Division U17 Team … also competes on the Brewster Academy hockey team, where he was named the 2004-05 team MVP … an honor-roll student who is also a John Brewster Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.

Tuttle on choosing Notre Dame: “I’ve always dreamed of going to one of the best schools in the country and Notre Dame was a perfect fit for me. I am looking forward to being coached by Coach Clark and his staff. I am glad Coach Clark is giving me a chance to come to Notre Dame and play for him. I plan on working hard day in and day out and to win a national championship sometime within my four years at the University.”

Clark on Tuttle: “We saw Phil play in a game down in Florida about a year ago and thought he was very good. He came to our summer camp and was without question the best goalkeeper on display. From that point on we decided to pursue him and we think he can be an excellent goalkeeper. He has a big, strong presence and he can kick and throw the ball as far as you want.”

The Fighting Irish are losing five members of a squad that made it to the Sweet 16 of the 2005 NCAA tournament. Ben Crouse (D), Tony Megna (F), Justin Michaud (GK), John Stephens (M) and Jon Mark Thompson (M) are departing seniors that the Irish will look to replace.

Crouse started 22 games in the Irish defense during the 2005 campaign, while Stephens had the second-most starts among the quintet with 17. Megna served as a key contributor off of the Notre Dame bench, while also making nine starts. Thompson saw action in 29 games during his Fighting Irish career and Michaud played in 11 career matches.

2006 University of Notre Dame Men's Soccer Signees

Dave Donohue MF 5-9 160 Reading, Mass./Cushing Academy
Justin Morrow MF/F 5-10 160 Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius
Tamba Samba F 5-10 178 Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis
John Schaefer D 5-11 165 Troy, Mich./Detroit Jesuit High School
Michael Thomas MF/D 5-10 185 Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas
Philip Tuttle GK 6-0 200 Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy