Justin Morrow and the Irish are gunning for a third straight BIG EAST Blue Division title.

Irish Set For BIG EAST Semifinal Clash With South Florida On Friday

Nov. 11, 2008

#9 Notre Dame (12-5-2) vs. #8 South Florida (12-4-2)
BIG EAST Championship Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 14 – 7:30 p.m. (ET)
USF Soccer/Track Stadium – Tampa, Fla.

TV: CBS College Sports (Live)

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Notre Dame will head to Tampa, Fla. to face South Florida in a BIG EAST Championship semifinal showdown on Friday, Nov. 14. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium. The match will be aired live on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). The Irish are the top seed from the Blue Division, while the Bulls are the No. 2 seed from the Red Division. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. Notre Dame downed USF 5-0 back on Sept. 7.

HOW TO FOLLOW: CBS College Sports Network (CBS C) will air both BIG EAST Championship semifinal games … Ben Holden will handle play-by-play duties, while Richard Broad will provide analysis … Sunday’s title game will be broadcast live online via www.BIGEAST.tv as well as numerous regional sports networks including CBS College Sports (CBS C), Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Time Warner Cable Sports 32 (Wisconsin), Cox Sports Television (New England), Bright House Sports Network (Tampa), WV PBS (West Virginia), Cox Sports Television (La., Texas, Fla.) … the game will also be shown tape delayed on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (same day delay, 1:00 p.m.), SportsNet New York (same day delay, 2:00 p.m.), Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) (same day delay, 7 p.m.), CSS Comcast Charter Sports Southeast (delay, Nov. 19, 2:00 p.m.) and FSN Pittsburgh (delay, Nov. 29, 4:30 p.m.) … live stats also will be available … log on to the men’s soccer page on bigeast.org and click on `BIG EAST Championship Central’ to find the games to track.

ABOUT THE IRISH: Notre Dame (12-5-2) topped Louisville 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Saturday (Nov. 8) … the Fighting Irish are the top seed from the Blue Division after capturing their second straight regular-season league title … senior forward Bright Dike scored the lone goal against the Cardinals to up his team-high goal total to 11 … he has a team-best 27 points and shares the team lead in assists with five … Dike leads the BIG EAST by averaging 1.42 points per game … junior midfielder Dave Donohue and sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky also have five assists … the Irish are averaging 2.05 goals per game, which ranks 17th nationally … the Fighting Irish are allowing 1.06 goals per game … Notre Dame is 9-0-1 at home this season … the Fighting Irish are riding a 13-game home unbeaten streak … head coach Bobby Clark is in his eighth season with the Irish … he has a 106-43-22 (.684) record during his Notre Dame tenure.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The winner of Friday’s BIG EAST Championship semifinal match between Notre Dame and South Florida will advance to the league final to face either DePaul or St. John’s on Sunday, Nov. 16 … DePaul is the No. 3 seed from the Red Division, while St. John’s is the top seed from the Red Division … the BIG EAST Championship final will take place at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 12 noon (ET).

IRISH IN THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: This is Notre Dame’s 12th trip to the BIG EAST Championship … the Irish own a 12-8-2 mark overall in the league playoffs … last season, Notre Dame defeated St. John’s 1-0 in a home quarterfinal match before taking down DePaul 2-1 in the semifinals in Storrs, Conn. … Notre Dame fell to Connecticut on its home turf in the title game, 2-0 … Notre Dame has won the BIG EAST Championship on two occasions, in 1996 and 2003 … Notre Dame is 6-1-2 at home all-time in the conference tournament, 1-5-0 in true road games and 5-2-0 at neutral sites.

SEMIFINAL HISTORY: This marks the second straight season, and the sixth time overall, that Notre Dame has reached the BIG EAST semifinals … the Irish downed DePaul 2-1 in last year’s league semifinals … Notre Dame is 3-2 in BIG EAST semifinal matches.

CONFERENCE CROWNS: Notre Dame is in pursuit of its sixth conference tournament title … the Fighting Irish captured three Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championships (1988, 1993, 1994) … Notre Dame has won the BIG EAST Championship twice (1996, 2003).

BACK-TO-BACK TITLES: The Irish have won back-to-back BIG EAST regular-season titles for the first time in program history … Notre Dame shared the Blue Division crown with Connecticut last season … this year’s title marked the third regular-season BIG EAST championship in program history … the Fighting Irish also won the championship outright in 2004.

NOTRE DAME IN BIG EAST PLAY: Notre Dame owns an overall record of 83-50-18 (.609) in BIG EAST regular-season play since joining the conference in 1995 … the Irish have posted eight straight winning seasons within the conference, including this season … the Irish have three regular-season BIG EAST titles … Notre Dame won the championship outright in 2004 and 2008 (Blue Division) and shared the Blue Division crown with Connecticut in 2007 … the Fighting Irish captured BIG EAST tournament crowns in 1996 and 2003 … Notre Dame’s high-water mark for BIG EAST victories in a season is eight, which has been reached twice (2004 & 2006).

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS SOUTH FLORIDA: Notre Dame and South Florida will be meeting for the fourth time when the two teams square off on Friday … USF owns a 2-1 edge in the series … the Irish took the most recent encounter, a 5-0 triumph early this season on Sept. 7 at Alumni Field … the Bulls topped the Fighting Irish 2-0 at Alumni Field during the 2006 campaign … the only meeting in the series to take place at South Florida occurred in 1985 … USF claimed a 3-0 victory in that match.

THE LAST TIME: Notre Dame defeated South Florida 5-0 earlier this season back on Sept. 7 … the game was part of Notre Dame’s annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament and was not an official BIG EAST contest … the two teams were not scheduled to meet during the regular season so they decided to schedule the out-of-conference match … Notre Dame was ranked eighth at the time of the meeting, while USF was fifth … the Irish used five different goal scorers in the win over the Bulls … Justin Morrow put the Irish on the board in the 24th minute off an assist from Bright Dike … Dike then made it 2-0 less than four minutes later … Josh Thiermann put Notre Dame up by three win 31:33 elapsed in the match … Brendan King picked up the assists on both the Dike and Thiermann goals … Michael Thomas gave the Fighting Irish a four-goal advantage with an unassisted goal in the 35th minute … Jeb Brovsky put a cap on the match when he scored in the 78th minute with the assist going to Matt Armstrong … Irish goalkeeper Andrew Quinn did not need to make a save to earn the win … South Florida’s Diego Restrepo had seven saves … the Irish out shot the Bulls 22-3 … Notre Dame also gained three more corner kicks (8-5).

SCOUTING THE BULLS: South Florida will carry a 12-4-2 mark into Friday’s clash with the Irish … USF is coming off a 2-1 victory over Georgetown on Nov. 9 in the BIG EAST quarterfinals … the Bulls finished the regular season with a 7-3-1 league record to earn the No. 2 seed from the Red Division … USF is 7-0-1 at home this season … the Bulls are averaging 1.11 goals per game, while surrendering 0.61 goals per game … South Florida has allowed 11 goals all season, with five of them coming in the loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 7 … Jordan Seabrook leads the team in goals (5), assists (5) and points (15) … Kevon Neaves and Zak Boggs both have three goals … Jeff Attinella has started 15 games in goal and carries a 0.39 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage … he has an 11-3-1 record with nine shutouts … last season, the Bulls went 14-6-2 and finished fourth in the Red Division with a 6-4-1 league record … South Florida advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championships after defeating Colgate (2-1) and Akron (1-0, 2OT) … the Bulls had nine starters return from that squad … head coach George Kiefer is in his seventh season at South Florida.

IRISH IN THE SUNSHINE STATE: Friday’s match against USF will mark Notre Dame’s first game in the state of Florida since the 1990 season … that year, the Fighting Irish dropped a 3-2 decision at Florida International … despite not having played a match in Florida since 1990, the Fighting Irish are no strangers to the Sunshine State … since 2003, Notre Dame has traveled to Bradenton, Fla. during the University’s spring break to train and compete in exhibition contests.

IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark discusses Friday’s BIG EAST semifinal match against South Florida …

“This is another huge game for the program. Even though we’re the number one seed, with the way things have fallen, it’s suddenly an away game, which makes it a little bit more difficult and more of a challenge. I think it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. This will be great preparation for this team for down the line because we will be playing against a very, very good team at their place in a hostile environment. If we are going to be a good team, these are the kind of environments that we need to go in to. We have to be able to handle these environments. There’s also an added excitement about playing away from the cold weather.”

GETTING HOT AT THE RIGHT TIME: Notre Dame is currently on a three-game win streak … the Irish are 6-2-1 in their last nine games … the only losses in that stretch were at Indiana (3-1) and at Connecticut (1-0 in overtime) … the Fighting Irish defense has allowed one goal or less in eight of the last nine games. DIKE DELIVERS: Bright Dike’s goal in the 81st minute against Louisville is all the Irish would need to advance to the BIG EAST semifinals … the senior forward has three game-winning goals this season … that ties him with junior Dave Donohue for the team lead.

TUTTLE SAVING THE DAY: Junior goalkeeper Philip Tuttle has recorded back-to-back shutouts for the Irish … he notched his first career win and shutout in the 1-0 victory over West Virginia on Nov. 1 … Tuttle, who was making just the second start of his career, made four saves against the Mountaineers … he followed that with a career-high six saves in a 1-0 triumph of Louisville in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals on Nov. 8 … Tuttle has not allowed a goal in 208 minutes since replacing an injured Andrew Quinn in the Georgetown match on Oct. 29.

ANOTHER DOZEN: Notre Dame has claimed at least 12 wins in all eight seasons of the Bobby Clark era, including this year’s current 12-5-2 mark … the most wins under Clark was 16 in 2003 … Notre Dame posted 15 victories in 2006 … the Fighting Irish produced 14 wins last season and 13 in 2004 … the Irish have finished with 12 victories three times during Clark’s tenure (2001, 2002 & 2005) … Notre Dame has qualified for the NCAA Championships all seven seasons under Clark’s tutelage.

BESLER EARNS ACADEMIC HONORS: Notre Dame senior defender Matt Besler has been selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V men’s soccer team … his name will now appear on the national ballot for a chance to be voted as Academic All-American … voting is done by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) … Besler, a central defender, carries a 3.462 cumulative grade-point average in the College of Arts and Letters as a pre-professional studies and psychology major … this season, he has played every possible minute on the field and has notched three points on one goal and one assist, while anchoring a Fighting Irish defense that has posted seven shutouts.

DOMINATION FROM DIKE: Senior forward Bright Dike has team-high totals in goals (11) and points (27) … those are single-season career-high numbers for Dike … his five assists also are a career-best mark … Dike ranks first in the BIG EAST by averaging 0.58 goals per game … he has notched a point in a team-high 12 games this season.

THOMAS A CONSISTENT FORCE: Junior midfielder Michael Thomas has notched a point in 10 games this season … Thomas is second on the team in goals (8) and points (20) … he has four assists … those are all single-season career-best marks for Thomas.

LEADING THE LEAGUE: Bright Dike and Michael Thomas rank first and third, respectively, in points per game among all BIG EAST Conference players … Dike is averaging 1.42 points per game, while Thomas has a 1.05 mark.

OFFENSIVE OUTBURST: The Fighting Irish have combined to score 35 goals during their 12 wins this season … Notre Dame has scored at least three goals in eight games and the Irish have reached the four-goal plateau on four occasions.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Notre Dame has scored 39 goals in 19 games so far this season after scoring 36 in 24 matches all of last season.

HAT TRICK: Dave Donohue’s hat trick against Marquette on Sept. 11 was the first for an Irish player since Joseph Lapira’s four-goal effort in a 5-4 overtime win against Indiana on Sept. 3, 2006.

WIDE MARGINS: Eight of Notre Dame’s 19 games this season have been decided by three or more goals … the Irish are 7-1 in those contests.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Seven times this season, the Irish have had at least three different players score a goal in a game … Notre Dame used four different goal scorers in a 4-1 win over Duke on Aug. 31 … the Irish had five players notch a goal in a 5-0 triumph of South Florida on Sept. 7 … Notre Dame used three different goal scorers in a 3-0 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 21 … the Irish had three separate scorers in a 3-0 win at Cincinnati on Sept. 26 … all three tallies in a 3-0 win over Michigan State on Oct. 8 came from different players … Notre Dame followed that performance with a 4-1 triumph of Pittsburgh on Oct. 11 in which all four goal scorers were different … the Irish received goals from three separate players in a 3-1 win over Providence on Oct. 19 … 11 different players have scored a goal for the Irish this season … a total of 14 players have tallied at least one point on the year.

IRON MAN: Senior defender Matt Besler has appeared in 84 straight contests for the Fighting Irish … he has started 66 consecutive matches along with playing every possible minute of those contests … the starting streak began at the beginning of his sophomore season … overall, he has played in 88 of a possible 89 games during his Notre Dame career.

ROOKIE IMPACT: Freshman Aaron Maund is one of two Irish players to have played all 1,756 minutes this season … fellow central defender Matt Besler is the other … Maund was named the BIG EAST rookie of the week on Sept. 22 … he was selected to the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic all-tournament team on Aug. 31 … Maund picked up his first point with an assist on Bright Dike’s game winner in a 1-0 victory over Louisville in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals on Nov. 8.

RELLAS RETURNS: Notre Dame senior midfielder/defender Cory Rellas saw his first action of the season in the Connecticut match on Oct. 25 … Rellas had missed the first 15 games of the season due to a knee injury … he has come off the bench to play in all four games since his return … Rellas started all 24 matches last season in the central defense for the Fighting Irish.

STRONG STARTS: Notre Dame did not surrender a first-half goal until the 10th game of the season (Michigan) … Notre Dame has out scored its opponents 16-7 in the first half this season … the Fighting Irish also have out shot opponents 135-90 during the first period of play. FINISHING STRONG: The Fighting Irish have out scored their opponents 23-10 in the second half this season.

CORNERING THE MARKET: Notre Dame has gained 34 more corner kicks (112-78) than its opponents this season … the Irish own a decisive 61-37 edge in corners in the first half.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame is 9-0-1 at home this season … the Fighting Irish are riding a 13-game home unbeaten streak … the Irish are 12-0-1 in that span … Notre Dame is 13-0-3 in its last 16 regular-season BIG EAST home games … the Irish have gone undefeated at home in BIG EAST play over the past two seasons … Notre Dame’s last loss to a BIG EAST foe at Alumni Field was a 2-0 setback to South Florida on Sept. 8, 2006 … the Irish are 17-0-3 at home against BIG EAST teams since that loss to the Bulls.

RPI RANKINGS: Notre Dame is eighth in the latest RPI rankings … there are four teams from the BIG EAST Conference that appear in the top 20 of the RPI … St. John’s is No. 2, while Louisville is 13th and South Florida is 16th.

TAKING DOWN A TOP-10: Notre Dame has defeated a top-10 team in each of the past nine seasons, including the win over fifth-ranked South Florida this season (Sept. 7).

TOUGH SLATE: The Irish faced another challenging regular-season schedule this season … there are eight teams ranked in the most recent Soccer America top-25 poll that appeared on Notre Dame’s 2008 slate … Akron (3), St. John’s (5) and South Florida (8) are in the top 10, while Michigan State (13), Michigan (14), Indiana (16), Connecticut (21) and Duke (23) also appear in the rankings … the Irish are 3-4-1 against those squads … Notre Dame is ninth in the poll.

CLARK REACHES THE CENTURY MARK WITH THE IRISH: Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory at Cincinnati on Sept. 26 marked the 100th win for head coach Bobby Clark during his Fighting Irish tenure … Clark is in his eighth season at the helm of the Notre Dame program and he has compiled a record of 106-43-22 at the school … he is second on Notre Dame’s career wins list behind Rich Hunter (1977-83), who is first with 128 wins … during his collegiate coaching career, Clark has a 259-106-47 record … the Scotland native is in his 22nd season of college soccer … prior to coming to Notre Dame, Clark went 71-21-12 from 1996-2000 at Stanford … he posted a mark of 82-42-13 during a nine-year stint at Dartmouth from 1985-1993.

BESLER A LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS FINALIST: Senior defender Matt Besler is one of 10 national finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the men’s soccer division … finalists were selected from a list of 30 candidates in each division, based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete … each finalist displays numerous accomplishments across all four award pillars: classroom, community, character, and competition … the award is presented annually to an NCAA Division I men’s senior soccer player who excels both on and off the field … the finalists will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote beginning Oct.16 and concluding Nov. 19 … votes from coaches and media will be coupled with fan balloting to determine the recipient of the award … winners will be announced during the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship in Frisco, Texas, scheduled for December 12-14.

VOTE FOR BESLER: Cast your votes for Matt Besler for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award by going to http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/ and clicking on `Men’s Soccer’ … you can vote once per day … fans also can vote for Matt by texting S1 to 839863 via your cellular phone … fan balloting counts for 1/3 of the total with the remaining 2/3 determined by NCAA Division I coaches and national media members … voting ends Nov. 19.

BESLER TABBED AS A PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Matt Besler, a senior defender, was named a second-team preseason All-American by Soccer America and College Soccer News … as a junior, Besler was named an NSCAA Scholar All-American in addition to taking home second-team all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive season … Besler has played in 88 games, including 71 starts, during his Notre Dame career … he has tallied 17 points on five goals and seven assists.

COLLEGE SOCCER NEWS WATCH LISTS: Three Notre Dame freshmen were named to the College Soccer News `100 freshmen to keep an eye on’ list for the 2008 season … (M/F) Brendan King, (M/F) Michael Rose and (GK) Will Walsh were selected to the list and are part of a very talented seven-man freshman class for the Irish.

FRESHMAN CLASS NATIONALLY RANKED: Notre Dame’s seven-man freshman class was ranked 12th nationally by College Soccer News … (M/F) Brendan King, (M/D) Aaron Maund, (D) Sean McGrath, (M) Adam Mena, (M/F) Michael Rose, (M/D) Chris Sutton and (GK) Will Walsh make up the talented crop of Fighting Irish rookies.

RECAPPING `07: In 2007, Notre Dame posted a 14-5-5 record and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships for the second straight season … the Irish fell at eventual national champion Wake Forest, 1-0, in overtime during the quarterfinals … the Fighting Irish won a share of the 2007 BIG EAST Blue Division title … Notre Dame tied Connecticut in points, but the Irish were the only team to go undefeated in league play as they posted a 7-0-4 mark … the Fighting Irish averaged 1.43 goals per game last season, while surrendering just 0.83 … the Irish peaked at a program-best No. 2 in the national rankings on Sept. 24 … departed seniors Joseph Lapira (F) and Ryan Miller (M/D) both copped All-America honors for the Irish in 2007 … Lapira led the Irish in both goals (9) and points (28) for the third straight season … he also had a team-high 10 assists in ’07.

ALUMNI FIELD FAREWELL: The 2008 campaign will mark the final season for the Fighting Irish at Alumni Field, which has been home to the Notre Dame men’s soccer team since 1990 … the Irish will begin play in a new $5.7 million state-of-the-art facility starting in 2009 … in 18-plus seasons at Alumni Field, the Irish have won 74 percent of their contests by posting a 129-38-18 (.746) home record.

A NEW PITCH:The Notre Dame men’s and women’s soccer teams will begin play in a new $5.7 million state-of-the-art facility starting in 2009 … plans for the stadium include a lighted facility that will feature a natural grass field, locker rooms, restrooms, concession areas and 2,000 seats … the stadium will reside just east of the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus … the lead benefactors for the facility are former Irish men’s soccer players Tom Crotty and Rob Snyder.

PARKING CHANGES: Due to ongoing construction within the Notre Dame Athletics Quad, parking for Irish soccer games this year is limited to the Eck Baseball Stadium and Joyce Center lots … fans are asked to walk around the south end of Eck Stadium, then proceed north between the stadium’s right-field wall and the soccer practice field before entering at the south end of Alumni Field.

SIGN UP FOR IRISH ALERT TEXT MESSAGE SERVICE: Go to und.com and sign up for Irish ALERT, a text messaging service designed to give fans up-to-the-minute game updates for all 26 varsity sports at Notre Dame … men’s soccer fans can sign up to receive scores after each half of every game.