May 5, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 MSOC HTML Schedule
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A total of 17 regular season games, including seven matchups with 2015 NCAA Championship qualifiers, await the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team in 2016. The Irish slate, highlighted by showdowns with 2015 NCAA champion Stanford, 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) titlist Syracuse, and historical national power Indiana was officially released on Thursday.
Notre Dame, which qualified for the NCAA Championship Round of 16 for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, logged a combined 7-3-3 (.654) record against 2016 opponents included on this season’s schedule. Notre Dame is made its 18th all-time appearance in the NCAA Championship during the 2015 edition of the national tournament, and its 10th as one of the event’s 16 national seeds (seventh seed). The Irish were the top overall seed in both 2012 and 2014, and won the 2013 NCAA Championship as the third seed, in its last three tournament berths.All 10 national seeds in the NCAA Championship for Notre Dame have been achieved under head coach Bobby Clark. The Irish have been seeded (with a first round bye) in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
“The ACC speaks for itself,” Clark said of the conference that, including Notre Dame, qualified a national best seven teams for the 2015 NCAA Championship. “Then you throw in two of the best teams in the Pac 12 in Stanford as the national champions and Cal coming to the adidas/IU Classic down at Indiana. We have UC Irvine and New Mexico for the Berticelli Tournament, and New Mexico is of course who we played in the semifinal when we went on to win the 2013 national championship, they’re always a well-coached and excellent team. UC Irvine is also a tremendous West Coast team. In our first four games we have four strong West Coast teams, so that will be a test. These are really great teams outside of our region and conference.
“Along with the ACC you also have Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Indiana in the second half of the year,” Clark added. “Last year I believe we may have had the strongest schedule in the country, and I think this year will be very similar.”
Riding the momentum of playing a strong 2015 schedule, which featured eight fellow NCAA Championship qualifiers and two eventual College Cup participants in Syracuse and Clemson, Notre Dame recently completed a challenging spring slate with a sold-out home showdown against the Mexico Under-20 Men’s National Team on April 22. A solid, competitive spring, for Clark and his coaching staff, has already placed the 2016 Irish on an upward trajectory nearing the start of preseason camp in August.
“The spring was a good schedule, especially playing the Columbus Crew, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State, Oakland, DePaul, Western Michigan and the Mexico U-20 national team,” Clark said. “We had a great schedule for the spring and you needed that because we graduated some talented players, so there will always be a few holes to fill. The spring gave us a good look at who might fill those holes before our full freshman class arrives. There are always a few freshmen that push for a spot, but the first people you have to look to are those you currently have on your roster. The spring games gave us a good look at that and a few lads did very well.”
Notre Dame kicks off its three-game exhibition and scrimmage schedule on Aug. 14 against SIUE at Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Irish continue their Illinois tour with a trip to Peoria on Aug. 17 to face Bradley before welcoming Valparaiso to Alumni Stadium on Aug. 22 at 5 p.m. (ET).
The 14th annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament will feature Notre Dame, Indiana, UC Irvine and New Mexico playing four weekend games at Alumni Stadium. The Irish and UC Irvine are set to meet on Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. to close the tournament’s opening day, with Notre Dame and New Mexico slated for a 2 p.m. kick on Aug. 28 in the event’s final game.
Notre Dame is set to return to Bloomington for the 14th straight season in September to take part in the annual adidas/IU Credit Union Classic at Armstrong Stadium. The Irish and reigning NCAA champion Stanford will open the tournament on Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. before Notre Dame caps the weekend against California in a Sunday (Sept. 4) match at 12:30 p.m.
ACC play will officially begin for Notre Dame on Sept. 9, when Virginia Tech ventures to Alumni Stadium for a 7 p.m. contest. The Irish remain unbeaten in six prior meetings against the Hokies (5-0-1) following a scoreless draw in Blacksburg in October of 2015.
Notre Dame closes the mini two-game homestand with a 7 p.m. nonconference meeting with former BIG EAST Conference foe Connecticut on Sept. 13. The Huskies return to Alumni Stadium for the first time since Oct. 8, 2011 (a scoreless draw), with Notre Dame downing Connecticut 1-0 in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship semifinal round in the most recent series game.
Notre Dame’s first trip to Louisville as an ACC member will take place on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. inside Lynn Stadium. The Irish last traveled to Louisville during their final BIG EAST season in 2012, and defeated the Cardinals 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 10, 2014 at Alumni Stadium.
Returning to the site of its 2015 ACC Championship triumph, Syracuse and Notre Dame will collide on the Alumni Stadium pitch in ACC action on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The Irish have claimed 12 decisions in their last 13 meetings with the Orange dating back to 1998, including a 9-0-1 record in regular season games.
Notre Dame closes the month of September with another familiar face from both its ACC and BIG EAST tenures, returning to Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh for a 7 p.m. match on Sept. 30. Notre Dame has won 13 straight games against the Panthers since 2003, including a 5-0 rout to commemorate Senior Day on Oct. 31 of last year.
One of the biggest nonconference tests of the season opens October for Notre Dame when eight-time NCAA champion Indiana returns to Alumni Stadium on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. Notre Dame earned its fifth result in its past seven meetings with the Hoosiers by way of a 1-0 win in double overtime in the final game of the 2015 adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.
Reigning ACC Atlantic Division champion Wake Forest arrives that weekend for just its second game at Alumni Stadium, with the Irish and Demon Deacons locked in for a 7 p.m. start on Oct. 8. Notre Dame split a pair of games inside the sold out Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2015, earning a 1-0 shutout win over No. 1 Wake Forest to advance to the ACC Championship match last November.
A season-long four-game road swing ensues for Notre Dame during the middle of the month, beginning with an Oct. 11 midweek match at 7 p.m. against Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Irish have won three of their last four meetings against the Wolverines, and have logged three prior results in four trips to the U-M Soccer Stadium.
After four straight games between the teams at Alumni Stadium, Notre Dame makes its long awaited return to KlÃƒÆ’Â¶ckner Stadium in Charlottesville for an Oct. 14 ACC duel with Virginia at 7 p.m. The Irish emerged victorious in three of their last games against the Cavaliers since 2014, with the teams battling to a 1-1 tie on Sept. 21, 2014 at KlÃƒÆ’Â¶ckner Stadium.
Also included among the final nonconference games of the 2016 season is an Oct. 18 showdown at 8 p.m. (ET) between Notre Dame and Northwestern in Bridgeview, Illinois. The match will take place for the second straight season at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire of the MLS. Notre Dame is unbeaten against the Wildcats in two prior games at the venue, logging a pair of 1-1 draws in 2010 and 2015.
“That will be another fun game, it was definitely fun last year for us playing in the stadium,” Clark said. “It is a good field and Northwestern is always a tough opponent for us, it’s never been an easy game. Statistically we dominated last year but there is only one statistic that really counts, goals. This will be our chance to right that one and come away with a W.”
Notre Dame closes its ACC road stanza with an Oct. 21 trip to Duke for a 7 p.m. start at Koskinen Stadium. The Irish have won six straight games over the Blue Devils since 2008, including a 3-2 overtime triumph last October at Alumni Stadium.
A Tuesday night midweek battle between Notre Dame and Michigan State on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. starts the final homestand of the regular season for the Irish. Notre Dame routed the Spartans 4-0 on Sept. 22, 2015 in East Lansing for its seventh straight result (6-0-1) against Michigan State since 2008.
The 2016 ACC regular season finale at Alumni Stadium pits reigning ACC Coastal Division champion North Carolina against Notre Dame on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. The Irish are unbeaten against the Tar Heels in two prior matches on the Notre Dame campus, most recently defeating North Carolina 2-0 on Sept. 26, 2014 at Alumni Stadium.
“You look through the schedule and see (NCAA tournament teams) Connecticut, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Syracuse,” Clark said. “These are all teams in our home games that could potentially win the national championship. It’s an amazing schedule, and for people that love soccer we are a fun team to watch. There’s not one game on the schedule that you can pencil in as a W at this moment, every game is going to be a fight. That’s the way our guys like it because there isn’t going to be anyone coming out of class on a Tuesday night thinking there will be an easy game, they all know they are in for a real test.”
Season tickets for the 2016 Notre Dame men’s soccer campaign are available through the Murnane Family Ticket Office. Early bird pricing of $30 for an adult season ticket ($50 value), $22 for a youth/senior season ticket ($30 value) and $75 for a fan pass four-pack of season tickets ($100) is currently being offered. Contact the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 or visit UND.com/tickets.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.