Matt Besler received both the MVP and scholar-athlete awards for the 2008 season.

Irish Officially Conclude 2008 Season With Annual Awards Banquet

April 30, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team recently held its annual awards banquet and alumni weekend to celebrate yet another successful campaign on the pitch. Several former players returned to campus and took part in the festivities, which included alumni games and a tribute to Alumni Field.

Taking home Monogram Club Team MVP honors for the season was senior central defender Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan.). Justin Detter, a former Irish All-American and 2003 team MVP, presented the award to Matt’s parents since he could not be there since he is currently playing for the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS. Besler also received the Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award, which is presented annually to the top student on the Fighting Irish squad. Mary Ann Spence, the academic advisor for the men’s soccer team, presented the award.

During the 2008 campaign, Besler started every match and helped the Fighting Irish defense post seven shutouts along with tallying a goal and an assist. The team captain became the first player in program history to be tabbed as a first-team All-American and a first-team Academic All-American. In addition, he was selected as the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Besler graduated in December with a degree in pre-professional studies and psychology from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. He finished with a 3.518 cumulative grade-point average. Besler was named to the dean’s list in the fall of 2008 after posting a 3.846 semester GPA.

Senior defender Terry Lee (Moreland Hills, Ohio) became the first two-time Spirit Award winner as he received the hardware for the second consecutive season. The award is presented annually to an inspirational member of the team. Presenting this year’s award was Paul Rodriquez, an Irish midfielder from 1999-2002 and former Spirit Award recipient.

Current New York Red Bulls defender and former Notre Dame All-American Kevin Goldthwaite, a 2005 graduate, garnered the Mike Berticelli `Bert’ Award, which was presented by 2004 soccer alum Greg Martin. Goldthwaite, who also could not attend due to playing obligations, earned the award for being the first former Fighting Irish player to compete in an MLS Cup final. He was part of the Houston Dynamo when they captured the title in 2006 and this past season, the Red Bulls fell to the Columbus Crew in the final.

The banquet also featured a video commemorating the closing of Alumni Field, which served as the home for Notre Dame soccer from 1990-2008. Bruce Novotny, who played with the Irish from 1980-83, produced the film. The video also previewed the new state-of-the-art Irish soccer stadium that will be open for the 2009 season. (The film can be seen on the men’s soccer page on under `video view’)

The Fighting Irish concluded the 2008 season with a 12-7-2 record overall and a 7-2-2 mark in BIG EAST play to capture the league’s Blue Division crown. It marked the second straight season that the Irish had won at least a share of the Blue Division title. The back-to-back regular-season BIG EAST championships were a program first. Notre Dame also garnered the 12th seed for the NCAA Tournament. It was the fifth time that the Irish had been seeded in the postseason.

Notre Dame also enjoyed a successful spring season on the field. The Irish began the campaign with a trip to Bradenton, Fla. during the University’s spring break. The Irish won mini-games (50 minutes) against Florida Gulf Coast University (1-0), Webber International (1-0) and Stetson University (2-0). Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark played two different 11-man squads against FGCU and Webber International and then split time evenly amongst his players in the Stetson contest.

The following day, the Fighting Irish took down the Venezuelan Under-17 National Team, 3-0. Rising junior Steven Perry (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) netted the first two goals and rising sophomore Michael Rose (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) put home the third Irish tally.

During the last day of competition on the trip, the Irish fell to Creighton, 1-0, before taking down Eckerd College, 3-0. Adam Mena (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa), a rising sophomore, scored two goals, while Perry notched his fifth goal of the trip.

Notre Dame returned home before venturing to the Detroit area on March 28 for two more matches. One Irish split-squad tied Oakland University, 1-1, while the other topped Michigan, 3-1. Both games were 80 minutes in length and played indoors. Rose put the Irish up against Oakland, yet the Golden Grizzlies evened the contest with three minutes remaining.

Mena netted his third goal of the spring against Michigan. Also scoring against the Wolverines were Perry and rising senior Justin Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius).

On April 4, Notre Dame traveled to Peoria, Ill. to face Bradley in a memorial game for Danny Dahlquist, a Bradley player who passed away in August of 2007. The Irish bested the Braves, 1-0, on a Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) header off a Brendan King (Naperville, Ill./Edison Academic Center (Fla.)) corner kick. Thomas will be a senior next season, while King is entering his sophomore campaign.

The final set of spring games took place in the Chicago area on Saturday, April 18. Notre Dame tied BIG EAST foe DePaul 2-2 before heading up to Evanston, Ill., where the Irish played Northwestern to a 1-1 draw. The Irish competed with separate teams for both games and used no substitutions. Scoring against DePaul were Perry and his classmate Bilal Duckett (Peachtree City, Ga./McIntosh). Fellow rising junior Matt Armstrong (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon) scored against the Wildcats.

Notre Dame Men's Soccer Spring Season 2009Florida Gulf Coast  W, 1-0Webber International    W, 1-0Stetson University  W, 2-0Venezuela National U17s W, 3-0Creighton University    L, 0-1Eckerd College          W, 3-0Michigan            W, 3-1Oakland University  T, 1-1Bradley                 W, 1-0DePaul                  T, 2-2Northwestern            T, 1-1Alumni Game         W, 4-0Blue - Gold Scrimmage   2-1 for Blue