Goalkeeper Will Walsh returns to the Irish for a fifth season.

Irish Open Exhibition Slate Sunday At Northern Illinois

Aug. 10, 2012

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team opened its 2012 training camp Thursday and the Irish will take to the pitch for the first time Sunday with two exhibition matches at Northern Illinois. The action begins at 12:30 p.m. (CT) with a 60-minute match, followed by a 90-minute contest. Both games will take place at the NIU Soccer Complex in DeKalb, Ill.

“These games are going to allow us to get a look at nearly all of our players,” says Fighting Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “It’ll be good to see where we stand early in camp and what kind of game shape we’re in. The guys came into camp very fit and it will be nice to get on the field versus an opponent.”

Following Sunday’s action, the Fighting Irish return to the field Thursday against the Chivas Guadalajara U-21 squad in Fort Wayne, Ind. The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) and is part of the Shindigz National Soccer Festival at the Hefner Soccer Complex on the campus of IPFW.

Notre Dame wraps up its exhibition ledger Aug. 20 with a home showdown versus Xavier. Kickoff is schedule for 7 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium.

That Xavier match will be Notre Dame’s annual game to benefit Grassroot Soccer (GRS), which is an international non-governmental organization that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities against the spread of HIV. GRS has a special connection to Notre Dame soccer as Dr. Tommy Clark, the eldest son of Irish head coach Bobby Clark, founded the organization. This will be the ninth season that Notre Dame has held a match to benefit GRS. Admission to the game is free and donations for GRS will be accepted at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame will play host to Duke Aug. 25 in the regular season opener. Kickoff between the Fighting Irish and Blue Devils is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium.

The Irish went 9-5-4 last season, which included a 5-3-1 mark in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame welcomes back 25 of its 27 goals scored from last season. Senior Ryan Finley returns in the attack after leading the Irish in both goals (7) and points (16) in 2011, while fellow senior Adam Mena had a team-best five assists. Finley and Dillon Powers, a senior midfielder and team co-captain, recently were named to the 2012 Preseason All-BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Team.

Northern Illinois compiled a 15-6-0 mark in 2011 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship before falling at Creighton, 3-0. The 15 victories tied a school record mark for the Huskies.