Sophomore left back Sean McGrath has started every match this season.

Irish To Open BIG EAST Slate This Weekend With Two-Game Road Trip

Sept. 16, 2009

#20 NOTRE DAME (2-2-1) at DePAUL (3-2-0)
Friday, Sept. 18 • 4:00 p.m. (CT)
Wish Field • Chicago, Ill.
Notre Dame leads series 18-1-0

#20 NOTRE DAME (2-2-1) at #5 USF (4-0-0)
Sunday, Sept. 20 • 1:00 p.m. (ET)
USF Soccer Stadium • Tampa, Fla.
USF leads series 3-1-0

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

SETTING THE STAGE … The No. 20 Notre Dame men’s soccer team will open its 2009 BIG EAST schedule and its pursuit of a third straight Blue Division title this weekend with a two-game road trip. The Fighting Irish will visit DePaul on Friday for a 4:00 p.m. (CT) showdown. Notre Dame will then travel to the Sunshine State to face USF on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

ABOUT THE IRISH … Notre Dame brings a 2-2-1 record into the match at DePaul on Friday … the Fighting Irish went 1-1 to finish third at last weekend’s Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium … Notre Dame topped Seattle, 3-0, on Friday (Sept. 11) and then fell to New Mexico in overtime, 2-1, on Sunday (Sept. 13) … senior midfielders Justin Morrow and Michael Thomas were named to the all-tournament team … they both scored, along with John Schaefer, in the win over the Redhawks … Notre Dame is averaging 2.0 goals per game, while surrendering 1.0 per contest … senior forward Bright Dike leads the Irish in goals (3) and total points (7) … Dike notched the first hat trick of his career in a 5-0 season-opening win over Michigan on Sept. 1 … Andrew Quinn and Philip Tuttle have split time in goal … Quinn, a fifth-year senior, has a 1-1-1 record with a 0.95 goals-against average and a .812 save percentage in 285:10 … Tuttle, a senior, possesses a 1-1 record with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .714 save percentage in 186:38 … head coach Bobby Clark is in his ninth season with the Irish … he has a 108-47-23 (.671) record during his Notre Dame tenure.

IRISH IN BIG EAST OPENERS … The Fighting Irish are 9-4-1 all-time in BIG EAST Conference openers … last season, Notre Dame topped Marquette, 4-1, to open league play.

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 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.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS DEPAUL … Friday will mark the 20th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and DePaul … the Irish own an 18-1-0 mark against the Blue Demons … this is the first meeting since the semifinals of the 2007 BIG EAST Championship … Notre Dame won that match, 2-1, in Storrs, Conn. … the Irish have won the past three meetings in the series … DePaul’s lone victory against Notre Dame was a 1-0 decision during the 1996 campaign … that was the last meeting in Chicago … the Irish have not played at DePaul since the Blue Demons joined the BIG EAST in 2006 … Notre Dame is 5-1-0 all-time at DePaul … the two schools first met in 1980 and the Irish were 5-0 victors in that mach, which took place at Notre Dame … the Fighting Irish have out scored the Blue Demons 87-5 in the series.

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEMONS … DePaul will bring a 3-2-0 record into Friday’s match against the Fighting Irish … the Blue Demons have won their last three matches … DePaul is coming off a 5-1 win against Buffalo on Sept. 13 … the Blue Demons have topped two ranked squads this season, Northwestern (2-1) and UC Irvine (3-2) … both teams were ranked ninth at the time of the meeting … the Blue Demons opened the campaign with losses to Drake (2-0) and Green Bay (2-1) … DePaul is averaging 2.20 goals per game, while surrendering 1.60 a contest … Steffen Vroom leads the team in goals (3) and points (7) … Vroom is the reigning BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week … Mark Plotkin has a team-best three assists … Joe Ferrari has started four games in goal and carries a 1.50 goals-against average and a .684 save percentage … DePaul posted a 9-7-4 record last season, which included a 5-4-2 mark in the BIG EAST Red Division … head coach Craig Blazer is in his ninth season at DePaul.

THE LAST TIME … Notre Dame and DePaul last met in the semifinals of the 2007 BIG EAST Championship … the Fighting Irish won the contest, 2-1, in Storrs, Conn. … Michael Thomas put the Irish on the board just 4:08 into the match … Joseph Lapira gave Notre Dame a 2-0 advantage in the 68th minute … DePaul sliced the lead to one in the 74th minute on a goal from Erich Reichmann … Notre Dame out shot DePaul, 15-10, for the match.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS USF … Notre Dame and USF will be meeting for the fifth time when the two teams square off on Sunday afternoon … USF owns a 3-1 edge in the series … the two squads met twice last season … Notre Dame downed USF, 5-0, during the regular season … the Bulls then defeated the Irish, 2-1, during the semifinals of the league tournament in Tampa, Fla. … in 2006, the Bulls topped the Fighting Irish, 2-0, at Notre Dame … the first-ever meeting in the series occurred during the 1985 season in Tampa and USF grabbed a 3-0 decision.

SCOUTING THE BULLS … USF will bring a 4-0-0 record into its match against Marquette on Friday … the Bulls have defeated UCF (2-1), Florida Gulf Coast (1-0), Valparaiso (1-0 in ot) and Virginia Tech (1-0) … all five USF goals have come from different players … Javed Mohammed has a team-best four points on one goal and two assists … Jeff Attinella has played all 360:43 in goal and boasts a 0.25 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage … USF opponents have gained 24 more corner kicks (41-17) than the Bulls … USF registered a 15-5-3 record last season … the Bulls went 7-3-1 in BIG EAST play and won the league’s conference tournament … USF advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2008 NCAA Tournament before falling to Wake Forest, 5-0 … head coach George Kiefer is in his eighth season with the Bulls.

THE LAST TIME … Notre Dame fell to USF, 2-1, during the semifinals of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship in Tampa, Fla. … the Irish took the lead in the 19th minute on a Bright Dike goal … USF evened the match in the 69th minute on a goal from Francisco Aristeguieta … Aristeguieta would then notch the game winner in the 82nd minute … the Irish out shot the Bulls, 12-10, and gained one more corner kick (8-7) … Philip Tuttle played all 90 minutes in goal for the Irish and made two saves.

IRISH THOUGHTS … Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark shares his thoughts on opening the BIG EAST schedule …
“This is the start of BIG EAST play and we have won two titles in a row and this is where we start to work towards three in a row. Both DePaul and South Florida are playing well. DePaul doesn’t lose many games at home and then we head to No. 5 South Florida. Our schedule is tough through the entire season and there are no letups. But we are looking forward to this weekend. I feel road trips really bring some camaraderie to the team. I think we’ll be ready to play.”

MORROW AND THOMAS NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM … Senior midfielders Justin Morrow and Michael Thomas were named to the Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament all-tournament team … both players scored a goal in Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory over Seattle in Friday’s action at the event.

SHOOTING DOWN THE COMPETITION … Notre Dame has out shot all five of its opponents so far this season … the Irish hold an 84-58 edge in shots over their opponents.

ALUMNI STADIUM … The 2009 season will mark 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.

OFFENSE AT ALUMNI … Notre Dame scored the first nine goals in the brand new Alumni Stadium before surrendering a goal to the New Mexico in the 38th minute during the game on Sept. 13 … the scoreless streak in the new venue reached 217:54.

SCHAEFER SCORES … Senior central defender John Schaefer netted the first goal of his Fighting Irish career in the 3-0 win over Seattle on Sept. 11 … after having played in just two games entering the 2009 campaign, Schaefer has played in all five matches, including four starts, this season and has helped anchor the Notre Dame backline.

MAUND AND POWERS OFF TO U-20 WORLD CUP … Sophomore defender Aaron Maund and freshman midfielder Dillon Powers were selected to the 21-man U.S. roster for the upcoming Under-20 World Cup in Egypt … the duo left the Fighting Irish following the game versus New Mexico on Sept. 13 and are scheduled to rejoin the team for their match against Georgetown on Oct. 21 … the U.S. is joined by Germany, Cameroon and Korea Republic in Group C for the tournament … the U.S. will have group matches on Sept. 26 (Germany), Sept. 29 (Cameroon) and Oct. 2 (Korea Republic) … if the U.S. advances out of group play, the Round of 16 will take place Oct. 5-7 … quarterfinals are set for Oct. 9-10, with the semifinals to follow on Oct. 13 … the championship match and third-place game are scheduled for Oct. 16.

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 … it marked the second multiple-goal game in Dike’s career … he scored twice in a 4-1 victory against Duke last season … the hat trick was the first for a Notre Dame player since Dave Donohue scored three times against Marquette last season (Sept. 11, 2008).

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION … 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 South Florida 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 … that was head coach Bobby Clark’s first game with the Irish.

UP NEXT … Notre Dame will return home for two key BIG EAST showdowns … the Irish will play host to Louisville on Friday, Sept. 25 at 5:00 p.m. (ET) … the game can be seen live on ESPNU … Notre Dame will then welcome in Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m. (ET) … that match will be broadcast by CBS College Sports.

TOUGH STRETCH … 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 signified 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).

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.

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.

THOMAS A LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD CANDIDATE … Midfielder Michael Thomas has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for men’s soccer … a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award at the end of September … those 10 names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote beginning October 5 and concluding November 13 … fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award … the winner will be announced during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s College Cup in Cary, North Carolina, scheduled for December 11-13.

RETURNING FIREPOWER … Notre Dame returned 38 of 41 goals scored from last season … leading the way is 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.

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.

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.

PLAYING THE BEST … The Fighting Irish have another challenging schedule this season … seven teams in the most recent Soccer America rankings appear on Notre Dame’s 2009 slate … those squads are Wake Forest (#3), USF (#9), Indiana (#10), Louisville (#13), St. John’s (#15), Connecticut (#21) and Michigan (#24) … the Irish are ranked 23rd in the poll.

IRISH NAME CAPTAINS … Senior midfielders Dave Donohue, Justin Morrow and Michael Thomas along with fifth-year senior midfielder/defender Cory Rellas have been 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.

TICKETS ON SALE … To purchase a 2009 season pass or single-game tickets, call the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356, visit or stop by the Notre Dame ticket office on the second level of the Joyce Center … tickets can also be purchased at Alumni Stadium on gamedays.

PARKING … Fans coming to enjoy Fighting Irish soccer at the brand new Alumni Stadium are encouraged to park at the Joyce Center’s C1 lot.

SIGN UP FOR IRISH ALERT … Go to 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.