Bobby Clark and his staff assembled yet another solid class for the Fighting Irish.

Men's Soccer Hosts UConn Saturday In Final Conference Match Of 2004

Oct. 28, 2004

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#5/11 Notre Dame vs. Connecticut, Saturday, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Regular season BIG EAST Champs play host to final league game of the year:

The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (12-2-2, 7-1-1 BIG EAST) plays host to Connecticut this weekend in the team’s final BIG EAST regular season contest of the year. The Irish, who have already clinched their first BIG EAST regular season title, will be looking to win eight games in the league for the first time. Connecticut, on the other hand, might be playing for a top-four spot in the BIG EAST standings (which would assure the Huskies a home match in the conference tournament quarterfinals).

Connecticut, 4-3-1 in the conference, defeated Syracuse 3-2 on Wednesday, Oct. 27 and will face Providence Nov. 2 (in a rescheduled game).

Notre Dame men’s soccer live coverage:

Fans unable to attend the match this weekend at Alumni Field will have two options available on to monitor the action. Live audio play-by-play will be available to subscribers of the College Sports Pass, with Notre Dame student John Welsh providing the commentary. Official College Sports Network’s Gametracker will also be available, providing up-to-the-second game situations and statistics.

Both offerings can be found on the right side of the front page on

Notre Dame – BIG EAST Champs:

The 2004 season will forever be remembered as the first BIG EAST regular season title for the Notre Dame men’s soccer program. While the winner of the BIG EAST Championship tournament is ultimately crowned `conference champion’ and receives the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship, the regular season crown is significant – as it proclaims the Irish as the best team in one of the top conferences in the nation.

The Irish are looking to complete the year with a 8-1-1 record, which would mark the first time the program has posted eight wins in BIG EAST Conference play. The team won seven games (7-3-0) in 2001.

The last time…

Notre Dame faced Connecticut was the first round of the BIG EAST Championship at Alumni Field … the Irish walked away with a 2-0 victory and eventually won the BIG EAST Championship title.

What you need to know about Notre Dame this weekend:

• Notre Dame has already secured its first BIG EAST regular season title while Connecticut will be battling for a possible top-four finish in the conference standings.

• The Irish are looking to become the first Notre Dame men’s soccer team to win eight games in a BIG EAST season. The team won seven games in 2001.

• Notre Dame has surrendered one goal in its last nine matches – coinciding with senior Kevin Goldthwaite’s return from an injury.

• Senior goalkeeper Chris Sawyer was named the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week for the second time this season and also earned Soccer America and College Soccer Team of the Week honors.

Dominating nine-match run:

Notre Dame boasts a nine-match unbeaten streak entering this weekend’s match with Connecticut. In fact, the Irish have given up just one goal in that streak (at #10 St. John’s in a 1-1 tie) – giving the team eight shutouts in the last nine games.

Many of Notre Dame’s accomplishments this season have been linked to the 1988 season, as the Irish began the season with their best-ever start since that `88 campaign. The nine-match unbeaten streak matches Notre Dame’s nine-match run at the end of last season as the best since the `88 season. Notre Dame began that year with a 12-match unbeaten streak.

To find a more dominating defensive streak, the record book retreats 21 years to 1983. In `83, the Irish shutout 12 of their first 14 opponents. Notre Dame’s six-straight shutouts (Sept 26 – Oct. 13) this season are also the second-best ever behind the `83 team’s seven.

The Irish also are threatening the school record for goals allowed in a season. The `83 squad allowed 15, while the Irish have surrendered just seven goals so far in 2004.

Connecticut team overview and series history:

Notre Dame and Connecticut will be meeting for the 13th time on Saturday … Connecticut (8-6-2, 4-3-1) defeated Syracuse 3-2 on Wednesday, Oct. 27 … the Huskies are still in contention to finish in the top four of the conference standings, which would assure a home match in the BIG EAST quarterfinals … Macala Boginkosi and Chukwudi Chijindu have paced the offensive attack for UConn with four goals each this season … Adam Schuerman has seen most of the time in goal for UConn, boasting a 1.01 goals-against average and a 5-3-2 record.

Sawyer’s work recognized nationally:

Even while #10 St. John’s ended Chris Sawyer’s scoreless minute streak at 623 on Oct. 23, the senior from Highlands Ranch responded with two more road shutouts at #17 Seton Hall and Rutgers. For his efforts last week, Sawyer was named the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week (for the second time this season) and also earned a spot on the Soccer America and College Soccer Team of the Week.

Sawyer and the Irish defense has been dominating as of late, as the team has given up just one goal in its last nine matches. Notre Dame ranks second in the nation for goals-against average (0.42) and fourth in shutout percentage (0.63). Individually, Sawyer is second in the nation in goals-against average (.424).

Notre Dame vs. ranked teams in 2004:

Notre Dame has faced six ranked teams this season so far and has suffered a loss just one time, a 2-0 setback at #1 Indiana on Sept. 15. The Irish have posted a win and a tie in their five other matchups with ranked teams (1-0 over #21 Villanova, 1-0 over #9 Boston College, 3-0 over #22 Michigan, 1-1 at #10/22 St. John’s and 1-0 at #17 Seton Hall).

Notre Dame is 16-10-4 (.600) vs. ranked teams under Bobby Clark.

Lapira honored by the BIG EAST:

Freshman forward Joe Lapira was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 25 after scoring the game-winning goal at #17 Seton Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Lapira, who made his first three career starts last week in place of an injured Tony Megna, earns his first BIG EAST weekly award. The goal against the Pirates was the second game-winner of the year for Lapira, who logged the deciding score in his first career BIG EAST match vs. Georgetown.

Etherington providing a boost in the Irish midfield: Sophomore Ian Etherington has played a key role in Notre Dame’s recent nine-match unbeaten streak. Etherington has scored at least one point in five of Notre Dame’s last seven matches, including goals vs. Loyola Chicago, vs. Syracuse and at #10 St. John’s.

He currently leads the team in assists with five.

Notre Dame will host BIG EAST Quarterfinal match for fourth-straight season:

Notre Dame’s finish at the top of the BIG EAST standings marks the fourth straight year the Irish will host a BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal match.

The match will be played on Saturday, Nov. 6, with a preliminary start time of 7 p.m. (subject to change). Notre Dame’s opponent in that match has not yet been determined.

Bobby Clark brings home 12 wins for fourth consecutive year:

Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark has won at least 12 games with the Irish since his arrival on campus in 2001.

Clark’s first Notre Dame team won 12 games in `01, followed up by another 12 in `02 and 16 wins last season. The Irish are currently 12-2-2 in `04.

That four-season run of victories (52) is the best for the program since the `86 (13-7-2), `87 (17-3-1), `88 (17-4-2) and `89 (10-7-3) teams posted 57 wins.

Snapshot of the Irish:

Notre Dame graduated 35 of its 38 goals scored last season and was expected to spend the beginning of the `04 campaign searching for a dedicated scoring threat. While the goal scoring issue was in doubt for a portion of the year, Notre Dame has recently found its stride and posted a nine-game unbeaten streak which included six straight shutout victories – three over ranked opponents (1-0 vs. #21 Villanova, 1-0 vs. #9 Boston College, 3-0 vs. #22 Michigan).

The one factor which changed for Notre Dame from the West Virginia loss to the Villanova victory (followed by five more wins and a tie) was the return of senior D Kevin Goldthwaite to the left side of the Irish defense. A preseason All-America selection by Soccer America, Goldthwaite injured his knee in practice before Notre Dame’s first regular-season contest and missed the first seven matches of the season. Since his return to the lineup, he has provided two assists and the Notre Dame defense has not allowed a single goal.

Notre Dame’s two forwards, sophomore Justin McGeeney and junior Tony Megna, are starting to play like veterans – never mind the fact that neither scored a goal before this season.

McGeeney leads the team with five game winners – including two straight at #21 Villanova and vs. #9 Boston College. Megna was on fire recently vs. Loyola Chicago and Pittsburgh – scoring four goals in the two matches – but was sidelined vs. Michigan with a leg injury. He is considered day-to-day at this point.

Another player who has emerged as a spark for the Irish is sophomore MF Ian Etherington. Capable of scoring on his own, setting up teammates or dropping in a perfect free kick, Etherington has three goals and a team-high five assists this season.

Senior MF Luke Boughen also has been strong of late and is tied for the team lead with four assists. He scored his first goal of the year vs. #22 Michigan.

Preseason All-Americans Jack Stewart (middle defender) and Chris Sawyer (goalkeeper) have lived up to the hype as well. Stewart has been masterful in defense for the Irish and carried the team with two goals in the first weekend at the IU Credit Union Classic.

Sawyer has a 0.42 goals-against average this season, nine shutouts and posted a 623 scoreless minute streak in `04.

Sawyer and Stewart named to the 2004 Hermann Trophy watch list:

Two Notre Dame men’s soccer players have been named to the 2004 Hermann Trophy Watch List, the most prestigious honor in intercollegiate soccer. Senior goalkeeper Chris Sawyer and senior central defender Jack Stewart joined 23 other players from across the country to be considered among the top talents in the nation and ones to watch for outstanding play during the ’04 season.

Sawyer and Stewart were two of four BIG EAST Conference players on the list, joining St. John’s Matt Groenwald and Boston College’s Guy Melamed. With two players on the watch list, Notre Dame joins defending national champion Indiana, North Carolina and UCLA as the only four teams in the nation to have two players on the Hermann list. Sawyer and Stewart also become the first Notre Dame players in school history to be named to the men’s Hermann Watch List.

Sawyer matched the school record for shutouts last season with 12, including an impressive three straight in the BIG EAST Championship, helping the Irish secure the program’s first conference title since 1996. Sawyer was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player after the tournament, a trophy that fit well next to his BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Compiling a 485-minute scoreless minute streak early in the 2003 season, Sawyer eventually played all but 10 minutes of Notre Dame’s matches last season. He held Notre Dame’s opponents to one or zero goals in 20 of 23 matches. Sawyer was also named the 2004 Preseason BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year and has followed up on that award with nine shutouts and a 0.42 goals-against average this season.

Playing just a few yards in front of Sawyer last year, Stewart anchored the Irish defense as a central defender and will continue in that role for 2004. Known throughout collegiate soccer as one of the best defenders in the nation, Stewart excels in the air and is one of the most physical and intense players on the team. The Torrance, Calif., native has moved up from his defensive position to score four goals and dish off two assists in his career.

A list of 15 semifinalists will be announced in November, with three finalists selected in early December. A winner will be announced at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis, Mo., on Jan. 8, 2005.

Preseason All-America honors:

Notre Dame has landed three preseason All-America honors by College Soccer and Soccer America. College Soccer named GK Chris Sawyer to its preseason All-America first team, while D Jack Stewart was named to the third team. Soccer America picked defender Kevin Goldthwaite for its preseason All-America team.

Bobby Clark quick biography:

Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark is in his fourth season at Notre Dame. He has led the Irish to at least 12 wins each season and the 2003 BIG EAST Championship. Overall, he is 52-18-9 at Notre Dame (.727) and helped the Irish qualify for the NCAA Championship tournament for an unprecedented third-straight season in `03.

Winning has been synonymous with Clark’s teams where ever he has coached. His Dartmouth teams (1985-93) posted an 82-42-13 (.646) record over nine years and three Ivy League Championships. At Stanford, Clark put up an 82-42-13 (.646) mark in nine years and finished second in the NCAA Championship in 1998.

Overall, Clark has compiled a 205-81-34 collegiate record (.693) and has landed seven teams in the final national rankings.

The Irish established their motto of `Making History’ early in the 2003 season and that goal was achieved in remarkable fashion. Notre Dame earned its highest-ever preseason ranking in 2003 (third in the Soccer America ranking) and highest-ever in-season ranking in both major polls (third in both polls). Notre Dame also earned its first-ever bye in the NCAA Championship and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third-straight season – another unprecedented achievement.

Clark recently reached a coaching milestone when the Irish head man earned his 200th collegiate coaching victory with a 4-0 win over Loyola-Chicago on Sunday, Oct. 3. He also grabbed his 50th victory at Notre Dame in just four seasons on Oct. 13, 2004, against #22 Michigan.

Please see p. 12-15 of the 2003 Notre Dame men’s soccer media guide for a more detailed historical biography on Clark.

Keep up with the Irish via the Notre Dame hotline:

The Notre Dame athletic department hotline has realigned its menu offerings for the 2004 fall sports season.

The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the live coverage and game recaps already provided on the official athletic website at

Here’s how the hotline is aligned (as of Aug. 28):

*Dial (574) 631-3000

*Select any of the following subgroups:

(1) Upcoming schedule and recent results of ALL varsity sports currently in action (select cells 3-9 for the most updated results for specific sports).

(2) 2004 Football schedule.

(3) Basketball information (then press 1 for men’s basketball and 2 for women’s basketball)

(4) Soccer information (then press 1 for men’s soccer and 2 for women’s soccer).

(5) Women’s volleyball (press 1) and men’s ice hockey (press 2) information.

(6) Men’s and women’s cross country information.

(7) Men’s and women’s swimming and diving information (then press 1 for men’s swimming and 2 for women’s swimming).

(8) Tennis information (then press 1 for men’s tennis and 2 for women’s tennis) and men’s and women’s fencing information (press 3).

(9) Women’s golf (press 1), men’s golf (press 2) and women’s rowing (press 3) information.