July 30, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team debuted at No. 11 in the recently released College Soccer News preseason top-30 poll. The Fighting Irish will open the 2007 schedule against No. 1 UCLA on Friday, Aug. 31 at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind. A total of eight teams from the College Soccer News preseason rankings appear on the Irish’s 2007 slate.
Notre Dame posted a 15-6-2 record in 2006 en route to advancing to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
The Irish return a solid nucleus from last year’s squad, which concluded the season ranked sixth nationally. Senior forward Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) is the reigning M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner and the first unanimous All-American in program history. In addition to those honors, he was also named the 2007 BIG EAST offensive player of the year as he led the nation with 22 goals and 50 points.
Three other all-BIG EAST members return for the Fighting Irish. Goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales), who returns to the Irish for a fifth season, was named to the third team, while junior defenders Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) and Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) earned second-team and honorable-mention honors, respectively. Cahill posted 11 shutouts last season and registered a final goals-against average of 0.77.
Notre Dame will look to fill a void left by the graduation of a five-man senior class that provided solid leadership and ability. Besler, along with Ryan Miller (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) and Alex Yoshinaga (San Diego, Calif./Granite Hills), will serve as team captains during the 2007 season. Yoshinaga, a senior midfielder, returns to the lineup after missing most of last season with a collarbone injury. Miller, a fifth-year senior, has emerged as one of the top attacking defenders in the nation over the past two seasons.
After a showdown with No. 1 UCLA in the season opener, Notre Dame will take on No. 9 Maryland during the second day of the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Sept. 2. The tilt against the Terrapins will be a rematch of Notre Dame’s 1-0 double-overtime victory in the third round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.
The Irish will host two ranked teams, No. 29 Rhode Island and No. 26 Northern Illinois, during the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament (Sept. 7 & 9).
Three teams on the Irish’s BIG EAST docket appear in the rankings. Notre Dame will travel to No. 24 Rutgers on Sept. 21 before hosting No. 14 West Virginia on Oct. 6 and No. 18 Connecticut on Oct. 13. The Irish will also welcome in No. 8 Indiana for a non-conference clash on Oct. 17.
The Fighting Irish will open exhibition play against No. 10 New Mexico in Ft. Wayne, Ind. on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Stay up-to-date on the Fighting Irish men’s soccer team by logging on to und.com or by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Hotline at (574) 631-3000.