Aug. 26, 2003
Soccer America has released its 2003 men’s preseason poll and the University of Notre Dame was placed third – giving the Irish their highest-ever ranking in program history entering the regular-season opener against #20/ORV Alabama-Birmingham on Friday, Aug. 29, at 5 p.m. during Indiana’s adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington. Notre Dame will also face #11/17 California during the tournament on Sunday at 5 p.m.
The #3 ranking provides the highest rating in school history for the men’s soccer team. The squad reached fifth during the 2002 regular-season before finishing out of the NSCAA/adidas rankings (in which Notre Dame is currently ranked 12th) and 20th in the final Soccer America 2002 ranking. Combined with the 12th ranking in the NSCAA poll, Notre Dame has achieved its highest-ever preseason ranking in both polls.
Notre Dame returns nine starters from last season’s team that reached the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Irish are looking to qualify for that tournament again in 2003, which would mark yet another program first. Notre Dame has never achieved three-straight NCAA Championship appearances.
A number of Irish opponents appear in the Soccer America ranking. In addition to Alabama-Birmingham and California, Notre Dame is scheduled to face #5 St. John’s, #8 Connecticut and #10 Indiana. The Irish could also meet #14 Boston College in BIG EAST Championship action.
Notre Dame has completed its preseason exhibition schedule, defeating #13/#11 Saint Louis 2-0 on Saturday, Aug. 23, and getting a 1-1 tie against Michigan on Monday, Aug. 25.
NOTE: When two rankings are listed, the Soccer America poll appears first, followed by the NSCAA/adidas ranking.