October 13, 1998

NOTRE DAME, IND. — After playing three non-conference games last week, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team (6-3-3, 2-2-2), returns to BIG EAST action as the Irish play host to top-ranked Connecticut on Friday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. and then entertain 13th-ranked Seton Hall on Sunday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m. Coach Mike Berticelli’s squad went 2-1 in action during the past week. The five remaining games on the schedule are against BIG EAST opponents.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW – IUPUI: Notre Dame played its sixth overtime game of the season, and sixth in its last seven outings, as the Irish beat visiting IUPUI 1-0. It also was the third consecutive overtime game for the Irish at Alumni Field. Freshman Shane Walton (San Diego, Calif.) tallied the game-winner 5:03 into sudden death overtime. It was Walton’s eighth goal of the season, and third game-winner, marking the second time in 1998 in which he scored the decisive goal in overtime. His goal came off assists from Scott Wells (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Ryan Cox (Broadview Hts. Ohio). The Irish outshot IUPUI 21-6 in the contest and limited the Jaguars to just one shot in the second half. Irish goalkeeper Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) recorded his second shutout of the season and 23rd of his career.

Santa Clara: Notre Dame dropped a 3-1 decision to the 17th-ranked Broncos in the first of two West Coast games. Cox put the Irish up 1-0 at 39:31 when he converted a penalty kick. The scored remained 1-0 until 20 seconds into the second half when Santa Clara’s Joe Ascolese tied the game. The Broncos scored the go-ahead goal six minutes later and then added a third goal at 74:03.

Saint Mary’s: Notre Dame rebounded from its loss to Santa Clara and posted a 2-1 victory over Saint Mary’s in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Irish scored once in each half as Berticelli’s squad completed its two-game West coast swing. Matt McNew (Arlington, Tex.) tallied his second goal of the season and Walton netted his ninth goal in 12 games to lead Notre Dame to the victory. McNew got the Irish on the scoreboard quickly 5:08 into the contest off an assist from Andrew Aris (Auckland, New Zealand). That was all the scoring until Walton scored what would prove to be the game-winner at 74:58. Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.) assisted on the goal. The Gaels scored their only goal of the game at 84:30. Velho made six stops in the second half and finished with seven saves in the game.

HEAD COACH MIKE BERTICELLI – Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli is in his ninth season along the Irish sidelines and 23rd as a collegiate coach. He has led Notre Dame to three of the school’s four NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994 and 1996). In 1996, his Irish squad won the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament game when it defeated second-seeded UNC Greensboro in the first round. Berticelli has an 93-68-15 (.571) mark at Notre Dame and is 280-123-39 (.678) overall. In three of the last five seasons, Irish teams have won conference tournament titles. Under Berticelli, the Irish claimed the 1996 BIG EAST tournament crown in just its second year as a member of the league with consecutive wins over ranked opponents Connecticut and Rutgers. During the 1993 and 1994 campaigns, the Irish won back-to-back MCC tournament crowns and earned berths in the NCAA tournament.

Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent six seasons (1984-89) at Old Dominion where his teams compiled a 76-27-16 record for a .706 winning percentage. Berticelli coached for four years at UNC-Greensboro (1980-83) with his teams compiling a 70-9-5 record (.863) and winning two Division III national crowns in 1982 and 1983. His first head coaching stint was at Thomas College where he coached from (1976-79) with his teams posting a 41-19-2 mark during that four-year span. The Irish have won 10-plus games in six of his eight seasons at the Notre Dame helm.

SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS – Connecticut: This will be the sixth meeting between the two schools and the series is tied at 2-2-1. The Huskies will be playing at Alumni Field for just the second time and first as the nation’s top-ranked team. The only meeting between the two school at Notre Dame ended in a 1-1 tie. The Huskies won last year’s meeting in overtime 2-1 in Storrs, Conn.

Seton Hall: Notre Dame owns a 4-2 advantage in the series. The two teams played each other twice in South Orange, N.J. during 1997 campaign and split. The Pirates earned a 2-1 victory during the regular season, but then Notre Dame avenged the loss with a 2-0 win in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament.

OVERTIME IRISH – Notre Dame played its sixth overtime game of the season against IUPUI and its sixth in seven games in the 1-0 victory. Coach Mike Berticelli’s squad is 2-1-3 in overtime games in ’98. Notre Dame played in a school-record five consecutive overtimes games earlier this season. The single-season record for overtime games in a season by an Irish squad is seven set during the 1985 campaign.

WALTON’S HEROICS – Freshman Shane Walton had two game-winning goals in two of Notre Dame’s three games last week. Twelve games into his freshman campaign, he has four game-winning goals and a game-tying goal. He leads the team in scoring with nine goals and five assists (23 points). Walton has scored a goal in all but four games this season and has been named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week three times. He has had one multiple-goal game and two multiple-point contests this season.

IRISH VERSUS NUMBER ONE – When Notre faces top-ranked Connecticut this weekend, it will mark the ninth time since the program’s inception in 1977 that an Irish squad has faced the number-one ranked team. Notre Dame is 1-7 in those contests. It’s lone victory over a top-ranked team was at home against St. Louis on September 13, 1981 as Notre Dame handed the visitors a 4-3 setback. This is the fifth time during Irish head coach Mike Berticelli’s tenure that one of his squads has gone up against a top-ranked team.

IRISH AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS – Notre Dame’s back-to-back games against top-ranked Connecticut and #13 Seton Hall will mark the third and fourth time this season that the Irish have faced a ranked opponent. Berticelli’s squad is 0-1-1 in games against ranked opponents this season with a tie at home against St. John’s (1-1) and a loss on the road to Santa Clara (3-1).

HOME SWEET HOME – Notre Dame is 3-0-2 at home this season at Alummi Field. The 1998 campaign marks the ninth season for the Irish playing at Alumni Field. Since 1990, Notre Dame has won 72.6 percent of its games there, compiling a 56-19-7 record. Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past three-plus seasons, although Coach Mike Berticelli’s squad somewhat struggled at home in 1997 winning just six of 10 games. The four losses represented the most for a Notre Dame team at Alumni Field in eight years. Four of the six wins, however, were shutouts. The previous season, 1996, the Irish had a 7-1-2 mark at home after posting an 8-3 record during the 1995 campaign. Notre Dame won a school-record 11 wins in 1994 en route to an 11-3-1 mark. Berticelli’s team recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home.

CLOSE CALLS – Six of Notre Dame’s 12 games this season have been decided by a single goal. The Irish are 4-2 in those games in 1998. Notre Dame beat Northwestern (1-0), Villanova (2-1 in overtime), IUPUI (1-0 in overtime) and Saint Mary’s (3-1) and lost road games to Rutgers (1-0 in overtime) and Georgetown (2-1).

LATE SEASON SCHEDULING FAVORS IRISH – Three of the remaining five games (all against BIG EAST opponents) will be played at home. Following this weekend’s two games against Connecticut and Seton Hall, the Irish will be on the road at Providence (October 21) and Boston College (Oct. 24). Notre Dame concludes its regular-season at home against West Virginia on Friday, October 30.

VELHO GETS CAREER SAVE 23 – Senior Greg Velho recorded his second shutout of the season and 23rd of his career in Notre Dame’s 1-0 overtime win over IUPUI. Velho has played in 70 games during his career and made 66 starts while registering a 36-23-7 record.

VELHO HAS BEEN STRONG IN GOAL – Greg Velho has 60 saves overall this season (5.0 per game) and 38 in six BIG EAST games (6.3 per game). He tied his career best with 12 saves in Notre Dame’s 1-1 tie with St. John’s on September 26. He established the personal high against UNC Charlotte in the second round of the 96 tournament. This season, he has a 1.06 overall goals against average and .811 save percentage.

WALTON AND COX ARE A SCORING COMBINATION – The combination of Shane Walton and Ryan Cox (Broadview Hts, Ohio) has appeared prominently on the Irish scoresheet this season. Together, the duo has been involved in nine of the 21 goals scored by the team this season. They are both one-two in the Irish scoring column with 38 of the team’s 65 points. Walton and Cox have combined for 12 goals and 12 of Notre Dame’s 23 assists.

IRONMAN – Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.) has played in all 75 games throughout his career and has made starting appearances in 74 of those contests. The only start he has missed was against Georgetown during the 1995 season. Johnson dished off his first assist of the ’98 campaign when he and teammate Ryan Cox combined in Shane Walton’s scoring effort in the 1-0 win over Northwestern.

IRONMAN II – Since midway through the 1996 campaign, four-year starter Greg Velho has played every minute of every contest spanning Notre Dame’s last 44 outings. He has played 4,191 consecutive minutes in goal. With a shoulder injury to Gerick Short (Mobile, Ala.) this season, he is the only goalkeeper in the Irish lineup. Velho has not been replaced in the lineup since the Irish beat Western Illinois 6-0 on October 11, 1996.

BIG EAST WELL REPRESENTED IN POLLS – Five BIG EAST teams are rnaked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll. Notre Dame, which was tied for 22nd a week ago, dropped out of the polls. For the third straight week, Connecticut is the top-ranked team, St. John’s and Georgetown remained 10th and 11th, respectively. Seton Hall moved up one spot to 13th, while Rutgers moved from a tied for 22nd to 19th.