Justin Morrow and the rest of the Fighting Irish seniors will be honored before Saturday's game against Connecticut.

Irish To Close Out Regular Season This Week With Two Key Matches

Oct. 27, 2009

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME (9-6-1) at
Wednesday, Oct. 28 • 3:00 p.m. (ET)
Old College Field • East Lansing, Mich.
Notre Dame leads series 10-3-5

CONNECTICUT (10-2-3, 7-1-1) at
NOTRE DAME (9-6-1, 7-3-0)
Saturday, Oct. 31 • 2:00 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium • Notre Dame, Ind.
Connecticut leads series 10-6-2

SETTING THE STAGE … Notre Dame will conclude its three-game road trip with a non-conference affair at Michigan State on Wednesday (Oct. 28). The match is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. (ET) kickoff at Old College Field. The Fighting Irish will return home to conclude the regular season with a key BIG EAST Blue Division match up with Connecticut. The Halloween showdown against the Huskies is slated for a 2:00 p.m. (ET) start at Alumni Stadium. Senior day ceremonies will take place prior to the match against Connecticut.

TRACK THE GAMES … Both Irish matches this week will feature live stats via Gametracker … go to the men’s soccer schedule on und.com to access the link.

ABOUT THE IRISH … Notre Dame is 9-6-1 on the season and 7-3-0 in BIG EAST play … the Irish posted league wins at Georgetown (2-1 in overtime) and Pittsburgh (1-0) last week … Notre Dame currently is second in the league’s Blue Division … the Irish already have clinched a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament … senior forward Bright Dike leads the Irish in goals (8) and points (18) … senior midfielder Michael Thomas has a team-best five assists to go along with five goals … Notre Dame is averaging 1.56 goals per game, while surrendering 0.94 goals per contest … Philip Tuttle and Andrew Quinn have both started eight games in goal … Tuttle is 6-3-0 with four shutouts … the senior boasts a 0.65 goals-against average and a .750 save percentage … Quinn, a fifth-year senior, is 3-3-1 with one shutout … Quinn has a 1.23 goals-against average and a .769 save percentage … head coach Bobby Clark is in his ninth season with the Irish … he has a 115-51-23 (.669) record during his Notre Dame tenure.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS MICHIGAN STATE … The Fighting Irish and Spartans will be meeting for the 19th time when they square off on Wednesday … Notre Dame holds a 10-3-5 advantage in the series … the Irish topped the Spartans, 3-0, last season at Alumni Field … Notre Dame is 1-3-4 all-time at Michigan State … the Spartans won the last contest against the Irish in East Lansing (1-0 in 2007) … the first meeting between the two schools occurred in 1978, a 2-2 tie in East Lansing … Notre Dame has out scored Michigan State 32-13 in the series … five of the contests have gone to overtime, all of them resulting in a tie.

SCOUTING THE SPARTANS … Michigan State will carry a 9-4-1 record into Wednesday’s match against Notre Dame … the Spartans have won the last three matches … Michigan State is 5-2-0 at home this season … the Spartans are averaging 1.57 goals per game, while allowing 0.64 per contest … Rubin Bega leads the team in goals (7) and points (18) … Jeff Ricondo has a team-high seven assists … Avery Steinlage has accounted for every decision in goal and has a 0.56 goals-against average and a .862 save percentage with six shutouts … Michigan State went 13-5-2 last season and garnered the No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament … the Spartans fell to Illinois-Chicago on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw in the second round … head coach Damon Rensing is in his first season at the helm of the Michigan State program.

COMMON OPPONENTS … Notre Dame and Michigan State have two common opponents this season (Michigan and Indiana) … the Irish defeated Michigan, 5-0, in the season opener (Sept. 1), while the Spartans topped Michigan, 2-1, on Oct. 25 … the Spartans downed Indiana, 1-0 in double-overtime, on Oct. 18 … Notre Dame fell to Indiana, 3-0, on Oct. 14.

THE LAST TIME … Notre Dame claimed a 3-0 win last season over Michigan State at Alumni Field … the Fighting Irish were ranked 14th at the time of the match, while the Spartans were unranked … Bright Dike gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute … Jeb Brovsky made it 2-0 in the 67th minute, while Michael Thomas netted the final score in the 86th minute … Andrew Quinn played all 90 minutes in goal and collected the win.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS CONNECTICUT … Notre Dame and Connecticut will be meeting for the 19th time on Saturday … the Huskies have a 10-6-2 edge in the series … Connecticut topped Notre Dame 1-0 in overtime last season in Storrs, Conn. … the Huskies are 3-3-2 all-time at Notre Dame … the two schools played to a classic 3-3 tie in the last meeting at Notre Dame during the 2007 campaign … the first meeting in the series took place during the 1986 season at Connecticut … the Irish won that match in overtime, 2-1 … that was the only contest between the two schools prior to Notre Dame joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995.

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES … Connecticut brings a 10-2-3 record into its match on Wednesday against Marquette … the Huskies reside in first place in the BIG EAST Blue Division with a 7-1-1 league mark … Connecticut is 3-1-2 on the road this season … the Huskies offense is averaging 1.60 goals per game this season, while the defense is allowing 0.47 per contest … Tony Cascio leads the team in goals (7) and total points (19) … Carlos Alvarez has a team-best 11 assists … Josh Ford has played every minute in goal and carries a 0.44 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage with 11 shutouts … last season, Connecticut went 11-5-6, including a 6-3-2 mark in the BIG EAST Blue Division to finish second behind the Irish … the Huskies fell to Creighton, 2-1 in overtime, in the third round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament … head coach Ray Reid is in his 13th season at Connecticut.

QUOTING CLARK … Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark discusses this week’s matches … “This is a big week for us. We have to take it one game at a time and all of our focus is on Michigan State. We’ve struggled in our last two trips up there, getting a loss and a tie. We need to get out of there with a victory. It’s going to be a hard game because they are a good team with some very good players. We’ll certainly be focused. We just need to start getting some wins to guarantee ourselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament.”

THE LAST TIME … Connecticut topped Notre Dame 1-0 in overtime last season in Storrs, Conn. … the Irish were ranked 13th at the time of the meeting, while the Huskies were 15th … Cruz Hernandez tallied the golden goal in the 93rd minute … goalkeeper Andrew Quinn made two saves for the Irish, while Josh Ford had three stops for the Huskies.

DOWN TO THE WIRE … Connecticut currently is in first place in the BIG EAST Blue Division with 22 points (7-1-1) with two league games remaining (Marquette and Notre Dame) … Notre Dame is second with 21 points (7-3-0) with one conference match left (Connecticut) … Georgetown is third with 18 points (6-4-0) with one BIG EAST game remaining (Providence) … West Virginia is fourth with 17 points (5-2-2) … the Mountaineers have two league contests left (Providence and Seton Hall) … all four of those schools already have locked up berths for the 2009 BIG EAST Championship.

UP NEXT … Following the conclusion of BIG EAST play on Saturday, Notre Dame will learn its fate for the 2009 league tournament … if the Irish finish first or second in the Blue Division, they will receive a first-round bye and host a quarterfinal match on Saturday, Nov. 7 … first-round games are slated for Wednesday, Nov. 4.

BACK ON TRACK … Notre Dame snapped its two-game losing skid with victories over Georgetown (2-1 in overtime) and Pittsburgh (1-0) last week.

FIRST TIMERS … It was a pair of first-time goal scorers that helped the Fighting Irish capture two wins last week … junior right back Bilal Duckett tallied the golden goal in the 97th minute in a 2-1 win at Georgetown on Oct. 21 … that was Duckett’s first career goal … sophomore midfielder Michael Rose netted the lone goal (48th minute) in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win at Pittsburgh on Oct. 24 … that was the first collegiate goal for Rose.

DUCKETT EARNS LEAGUE ACCOLADE … Junior defender Bilal Duckett was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for his effort in helping the Irish post two wins last week … Duckett deposited the golden goal in a 2-1 triumph of Georgetown … he also helped the Irish shut out Pittsburgh, 1-0 … Duckett played all 187 minutes on the pitch during the two matches … the Irish only allowed one shot on goal versus Pittsburgh … that was the first such conference accolade for Duckett.

GOLDEN MOMENTS … Bilal Duckett’s golden goal (97th minute) against Georgetown was Notre Dame’s second golden goal in the past four matches … senior forward Bright Dike deposited one (110th minute) against Providence on Oct. 10.

A CONSISTENT FORCE … Michael Thomas produced three points in helping Notre Dame to wins at Georgetown and Pittsburgh last week … Thomas gave the Irish a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute against the Hoyas … the senior midfielder assisted on the lone tally in a 1-0 victory over the Panthers … Thomas was named to the TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week for his efforts … Thomas leads the Irish with five assists, while his five goals rank him second on the team.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS … Four of Notre Dame’s last five matches have been decided by a single goal … the Fighting Irish have played a total of nine one-goal games this season … the Irish are 5-4 in those contests.

AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS … Senior forward Bright Dike, the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, is tied for second among all BIG EAST players with eight goals … Dike is tied for third among all league players in points with 18.

SECOND HALF SUCCESS … Notre Dame has out scored its opponents 20-10 in the second half and overtime periods this season.

NIGHT OWLS … Notre Dame is 5-1-1 this season when playing at night … last season, the Fighting Irish were 7-4-2 during night games.

NO. 700 … Notre Dame’s match at Marquette on Oct. 7 marked the 700th game in the history of the Fighting Irish varsity program … the Irish now are 430-209-66 (.657) since the varsity program began in 1977.

TAKING DOWN A TOP-10 … The 4-0 win over seventh-ranked Louisville on Sept. 25 marked Notre Dame’s first victory over a top-10 team since they defeated No. 5 USF, 5-0, last season (Sept. 7, 2008).

CRACKING THE CARDINALS … Prior to Notre Dame’s 4-0 triumph of Louisville on Sept. 25, the Cardinals had only surrendered one goal this season … senior goalkeeper Philip Tuttle and the Irish defense posted the shutout against Louisville, who entered the match averaging 2.5 goals per game … Tuttle made three saves to collect his second clean sheet of the season.

IRISH EXPLOSION … The four goals scored in the second half against Louisville on Sept. 25 were the most goals scored in a single period by the Irish since they netted four in the first half in a 5-0 win over USF last season (Sept. 7, 2008).

OFFENSE AT ALUMNI … Notre Dame has scored three or more goals three times this season at the brand new Alumni Stadium … those performances have occurred against Michigan (5-0), Seattle (3-0) and Louisville (4-0) … Notre Dame scored the first nine goals at the stadium before surrendering a score to New Mexico in the 38th minute during the game on Sept. 13 … the scoreless streak in the new venue reached 217:54.

MAUND AND POWERS AT U-20 WORLD CUP … Sophomore defender Aaron Maund and freshman midfielder Dillon Powers were members of the United States Under-20 National Team that recently competed at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt … the U.S. went 1-2 and finished in 17th place, one slot shy of advancing to the Round of 16 … Powers started the first contest of group competition, a 3-0 loss to Germany on Sept. 26, and played the entire first half … in a 4-1 win over Cameroon on Sept. 29, he came on in the 73rd minute and completed the game for the United States … Powers and Maund did not enter the final match of Group C play, a 3-0 loss to Korea Republic on Oct. 2 … Maund did not see match time during the tournament … Notre Dame and UCLA were the only two schools with multiple representatives on the team … the duo returned to the Irish for the match at Marquette on Oct. 7 … Notre Dame went 3-2 in their absence.

NOTRE DAME IN BIG EAST PLAY … Notre Dame owns an overall record of 90-53-18 (.615) in BIG EAST regular-season play since joining the conference in 1995 … the Irish have posted eight straight winning seasons within the conference, including last season’s 7-2-2 mark … 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 trophy 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).

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 in 2007 … the 2008 title marked the third regular-season BIG EAST championship in program history … the Fighting Irish also won the championship outright in 2004.

LOSE THE SHOES … At halftime of the Notre Dame-Cincinnati match on Sept. 27, the championship game of the `Lose the Shoes’ tournament was held at Alumni Stadium … the preliminary games of the tournament took place on the Notre Dame campus on Sept. 26 … the proceeds from the 3-on-3 barefoot soccer tournament benefitted Grassroot Soccer, a South Africa-based non-governmental organization that integrates the cross-cultural appeal of soccer with evidence-based HIV prevention and life skills programs that arm African youth with the knowledge, skills, and support to live HIV free … Tommy Clark, the eldest son of Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark, is a cofounder of Grassroot Soccer … in the fall of 2006, Dartmouth College held the first ever `Lose the Shoes’ tournament … since then, over 90 `Lose the Shoes’ tournaments have raised almost $150,000 … Notre Dame raised approximately $1,200.

DIKE DEPOSITS HAT TRICK … Senior forward Bright Dike had a stellar start to the 2009 season as he registered the first hat trick of his career in a 5-0 win over Michigan … the hat trick was the first for a Notre Dame player since Dave Donohue scored three times against Marquette last season.

OFFENSIVE OPENER … Notre Dame’s five-goal outburst against Michigan in the season opener was the first for the Fighting Irish since a 5-0 triumph of USF on Sept. 7, 2008 … the five tallies are the most in a season opener for Notre Dame since a 5-0 victory over Villanova in 2001, which was head coach Bobby Clark’s first game with the Irish.

SHOOTING DOWN THE COMPETITION … Notre Dame has out shot 13 of its 16 opponents so far this season … the Irish hold a 230-161 advantage in shots, including 102-65 in shots on goal, over their opponents.

ALUMNI STADIUM … The 2009 season signifies a new era for Fighting Irish soccer as Notre Dame begins play in Alumni Stadium … the Irish opened the facility with a 5-0 victory over Michigan on Sept. 1 … the $5.7 million venue resides just east of the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus and features a natural grass field, lights, locker rooms, restrooms, concession areas and permanent seating for over 2,000 spectators … the lead benefactors for the facility are former Irish soccer players Tom Crotty and Rob Snyder.

CHEERING ON THE IRISH … Notre Dame ranks 13th among all NCAA Division I men’s soccer programs in home attendance this season … the Fighting Irish are averaging 1,485 fans per contest at Alumni Stadium … Connecticut is the only BIG EAST team that ranks higher than the Fighting Irish in home attendance.

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOK … Jeb Brovsky’s goal in the 26th minute of the season-opening 5-0 win over Michigan was the first goal scored in Alumni Stadium … Michael Thomas collected the assist on the play.

TOUGH SLATE … The Fighting Irish opened the 2009 season against three ranked teams (#21 Michigan, #3 Wake Forest, #1 St. John’s) … that marked the first time since 2003 that Notre Dame opened a campaign against three ranked opponents … the back-to-back games against Wake Forest and St. John’s was the first time ever the Fighting Irish had faced back-to-back top-three teams … it was the first time Notre Dame had consecutive matches against top-10 foes since 2007 (#7 Santa Clara and #2 Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament) … a match against No. 5 USF on Sept. 20 was the third time this season that the Irish have met a top-five squad … Notre Dame has faced six ranked opponents so far this season … the Irish are 2-3-1 in those matches.

LEAGUE HONORS FOR DIKE AND THOMAS … Senior forward Bright Dike was named the 2009 BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year … he was joined on the league’s all-preseason squad by Irish senior midfielder Michael Thomas.

IRISH PICKED TO WIN BLUE DIVISION … Notre Dame was selected to win the 2009 BIG EAST Blue Division title according to a vote by the league’s head coaches … the Fighting Irish received 12 first-place votes among the Blue Division squads, while Connecticut garnered three and Georgetown had one vote … the league’s 16 head coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams … St. John’s was picked to win the Red Division.

POWERS EARNS NATIONAL HONORS … Freshman midfielder Dillon Powers was named the 2008-09 Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year … in addition, he was selected as the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Co-Player of the Year in July.

RETURNING FIREPOWER … Notre Dame returned 38 of 41 goals scored from last season … leading the way was senior forward Bright Dike, who led all BIG EAST players in goals (12) and points (29) one year ago … Michael Thomas was the top scoring midfielder in the league with 21 points on eight goals and five assists … junior forward Jeb Brovsky is back after totaling five goals and six assists as a sophomore … seniors Dave Donohue (5g, 5a) and Justin Morrow (2g, 4a) registered 15 and eight points, respectively, one season ago … sophomore Brendan King and senior Tamba Samba chipped in two goals apiece for the Irish … King also added three assists.

COLLEGE SOCCER NEWS WATCH LISTS … Two Notre Dame freshmen were named to the College Soccer News `100 Freshmen To Keep An Eye On’ list for the 2009 season … midfielder/defender Danny O’Leary and midfielder Dillon Powers were selected to the list and are part of a very talented six-man freshman class for the Irish.

FRESHMAN CLASS NATIONALLY RANKED … Notre Dame’s freshman class was ranked ninth according to College Soccer News … Bob Novak (M), Danny O’Leary (M/D), Dillon Powers (M), Kyle Richard (M/F), Grant Van De Casteele (D) and Eric Tilley (M/D) make up the stellar class.

IRISH NAME CAPTAINS … Senior midfielders Dave Donohue, Justin Morrow and Michael Thomas along with fifth-year senior midfielder/defender Cory Rellas were named team captains for the 2009 campaign … this is the second straight season in which Thomas has been an Irish captain, while the other three are first-time captains.

SEASON IN REVIEW … Last season, Notre Dame posted a 12-7-2 mark, including a 7-2-2 record in conference play, en route to capturing its second straight BIG EAST Blue Division title … the Fighting Irish garnered the 12th seed for the NCAA Championship … the Irish fell to Northwestern, 2-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Alumni Field … the Fighting Irish concluded the season ranked 16th in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll … Notre Dame averaged 1.95 goals per game last season, while allowing 1.10 per contest … Bright Dike led the BIG EAST in goals (12) and total points (29) … the forward copped first team all-league and all-region honors in 2008 … central defender Matt Besler was named a first-team All-American and first team Academic All-American in addition to being tabbed as the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year … Besler became the highest MLS SuperDraft pick in program history as he was selected eighth overall by the Kansas City Wizards … the New York Red Bulls drafted his backline mate, Jack Traynor, with the 29th overall selection.

SIGN UP FOR IRISH ALERT … 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.