Nov. 21, 2015
by Tony Jones
DATE: Nov. 22, 2015
TIME: 2 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium — cap. 2,500)
LAST MEETING: First Meeting
TICKETS: und.com/buytickets; (574) 631-7356
For the fourth straight season, NCAA Championship soccer rolls into Alumni Stadium in November. After earning the seventh national seed into the 2015 NCAA tournament earlier in the week, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team welcomes Tulsa on Sunday for a second round NCAA Championship match. The 2 p.m. (ET) contest will air live on ESPN3.
No. 7 Notre Dame (11-4-5) and Tulsa (8-6-6) will collide for the first time on the varsity soccer pitch, with the Golden Hurricane punching a second round NCAA ticket with a 3-2 win over Florida International on Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a national top 16 seed, the Irish earned a bye through the tournament’s first round.
Notre Dame is looking for its fourth straight berth into the NCAA Round of 16, which would establish a program best over a four-year stretch. The Irish are making their 14th NCAA Championship appearance in the past 15 seasons under head coach Bobby Clark.
Tulsa qualified for its 10th NCAA Championship by winning the American Athletic Conference (AAC) title last weekend for the first time, reaching the national tournament for the ninth time under 21st-year head coach Tom McIntosh. The Golden Hurricane is in search of the program’s first sweet sixteen berth since 2012.
“This is what we play all year for, to play in the postseason,” Clark said. “This is your ultimate, to win five games at this stage, that is every team’s dream at the start of every year. As I always say you’ve got to make the tournament, and if you do make it you can say it was a good season. Depending on how many games you win and the further you go the only way it can become a fantastic season is to win every game.
“That is our challenge and the team knows that,” Clark added. “This team has been there and has had the fantastic year back in 2013, so the seniors especially know what they want. They want it to be another fantastic season. They will be very tuned in.”
Tulsa advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship after downing No. 16 Florida International 3-2 on Thursday night. The Golden Hurricane, winners of the 2015 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship, are making their 10th all-time NCAA tournament appearance and have qualified for the field nine times since 2003.
Geoffrey Dee and Juan Sanchez lead all Tulsa players with 17 points through 20 matches, with Sanchez’s seven goals and Dee’s five assists accounting for team highs.
Head coach Tom McIntosh is in his 21st season at the helm of the Tulsa program, and has compiled a 228-151-41 (.592) mark with the Golden Hurricane. McIntosh guided to Tulsa to a pair of NCAA Quarterfinal appearances in 2004 and 2009.
“They’re a very good team, there is absolutely no question about that,” Clark said. “It was a very good game between Florida International and Tulsa (in the first round). Tulsa has very good technical players and is tactically well organized.
Another National Seed For The Irish
Notre Dame is set to make 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. 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.
Racking Up NCAA Wins In 2000s
Notre Dame had claimed one win in its history during NCAA Championship play over its first four trips to the national tournament, punctuated by a 1-0 shutout of No. 2 UNC Greensboro on Nov. 24, 1996.
Since entering the new millennium the Irish have cemented themselves as mainstays in the NCAA Championship. Dating back to 2001, Notre Dame has won 16 games in 14 trips to the national tournament, notching two wins in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and a program record five wins during its national championship season in 2013.
Notre Dame was among the final eight teams remaining in the field in both 2006 and 2007 before reaching the NCAA College Cup for the first time during its stellar 2013 championship run.
Senior Class Is Postseason Tested
Sunday’s NCAA Championship second round matchup with Tulsa at Alumni Stadium will be the 21st career postseason contest for the Notre Dame class of 2016, which includes both conference and NCAA tournament matches. The Irish are 14-4-2 (.750) in the second season since 2011, winning the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship, the 2013 College Cup, and reaching the final match of the 2015 ACC Championship in that span.
The current senior class also has the chance to become the first in program history to reach at least the NCAA Round of 16 in each of its four seasons at Notre Dame. The classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 each accomplished the feat on three occasions, a tie that the class of 2016 could break with a victory over Tulsa.
Home NCAA Tourney Success
Since hosting its first NCAA Championship game at old Alumni Field in 2002, Notre Dame has compiled an 11-5-1 (.676) NCAA tournament record in home contests. The Irish have served as a round host in the NCAA Championship in each of their last 13 tournament appearances.
Notre Dame hosted a total of three matches at Alumni Stadium during the 2013 NCAA Championship, defeating Wisconsin (3-0), No. 14 Wake Forest (4-2), and No. 11 Michigan State (2-1) to reach that season’s College Cup in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Active ND NCAA Points Leaders
Senior midfielder/tri-captain Patrick Hodan is the active Notre Dame leading scorer in NCAA Championship matches, notching 10 points in nine career tournament games. Hodan scored five goals during the magical Irish 2013 charge to the national championship.
Fellow senior Evan Panken has chipped in two career NCAA tournament goals (four points), while fifth-year senior/tri-captain Max Lachowecki has added a goal and an assist in eight NCAA tournament game appearances.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant 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.