BACK IN THE NCAAs – Notre Dame (12-6) earned an at-large berth in the 48-team NCAA tournament field. This will be the fifth NCAA tournament apperance for an Irish men’s soccer team and first since 1996. The Irish are one of six BIG EAST teams in this year’s NCAA tournament field. Notre Dame’s first NCAA appearance came in 1988 and was followed by berths in 1993, 1994 and ’96. The Irish won their first-ever NCAA tournament game in ’96 with a first-round 1-0 upset of No. 2 seed UNC Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C. The Irish finished tied for second with eventual 2001 BIG EAST tournament champion St. John’s. Notre Dame earned the No. 2 seed in the league championship by virtue of having more conference wins than the Red Storm, but St. John’s defeated the Irish 1-0 in the tournament semifinals. Notre Dame earned a berth in the semifinals for the third time in school history following a 1-0 win over Georgetown at home in a quarterfinal matchup. Notre Dame earned its highest seed ever in the championship and played in the postseason tournament for the fifth time in seven seasons. The ’96 Irish team, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, earned the automatic berth after winning the BIG EAST tournament crown that season. First-year head coach Bobby Clark’s squad has engineered a great turnaround for the Irish after Notre Dame suffered back-to-back losing seasons in ’99 and ’00) with a combined 15-17-5 record. The seven conference wins were the most by an Irish squad in seven seasons as a BIG EAST Conference member. Notre Dame finished ninth in the final regular season standings in 2000 and was picked to finish seventh in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Clark was selected the BIG EAST Coach of the Year in 2001, while a record five players earned all-conference honors. Junior Erich Braun and sophomore Justin Detter were first-team all-conference selections, while senior Griffin Howard and Chris Sawyer were second-team honorees. Sophomore Chad Riley was the fifth Irish player selected for all-conference honors as he was a third-team honoree. Notre Dame posted 11 wins during the regular season, the most since the 1993 campaign when that Irish team registered 13 before finishing with a final 15-6 record.
HEADING TO COLLEGE PARK, MD – Notre Dame heads to College, Park, Md., for the first and second round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish face Maryland (10-8-1) on Fri., Nov. 23 at Ludwig Field in College Park, Md. The winner of the contest will meet Loyola-Md. (16-1-2) in the second on Sun., Nov. 25 at 1:00 p.m. in College Park.
NOTRE DAME ADVANCES TO THIRD BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINAL APPEARANCE – Notre Dame advanced to the semifinals of the 2001 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship for the third time in school history before losing to eventual champion St. John’s, 1-0. The Irish earned the No. 2 seed in the championship, their highest ranking ever, and advanced to the semifinals following a victory at home over No. 7 seed Georgetown in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame’s matchup with St. John’s was the first meeting of the season between the two teams (they did not play each other during the regular season) and the third in BIG EAST tournament competition. The two teams tied for second in the final regular-season standings, but the Irish earned the number two seed by virtue of it conference wins. Notre Dame was 7-3 during the regular season, while St. John’s finished with a 6-1-3 mark. Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, the No. 2 seed has been the highest seed that an Irish team has earned in the conference championship. Notre Dame has played in five of the league’s seven postseason tournaments (the Irish missed qualifying in 1995 and 2000). Notre Dame won the tournament title in 1996 after earning the No. 3 seed and also advanced to the semifinals the following season in 1997.
SCOUTING THE IRISH – Under first-year head coach Bobby Clark, Notre Dame is 18th in the Soccer America rankings and 20th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas poll. It marks the first time since the 1996 campaign that the Irish have been ranked in both polls at the same time. Notre Dame has only lost twice in its last 11 games (9-2-0). The Irish have lost only once during the month of October which included a 4-1 road mark during the eight-game span. Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 33-18 this season (101-57 in points). The Irish have displayed a very balanced scoring attack with 10 players having scored at least one goal this season. Junior forward Erich Braun leads the team in scoring with a personal-best 12 goals and three assists for a career-high 27 points. Sophomore Devon Prescod is second in the scoring column with six goals and six assists (18 points), 16 more points than he scored a year ago as a freshman when he netted just one goal. Sophomore Justin Detter and freshman Kevin Goldthwaite are third in the Irish scoring column with four goals and five assists each for 13 points. Junior Justin Ratcliffe is the only other multiple-goal scorer as he has scored two goals. Griffin Howard, Greg Martin, Andreas Forstner, Matt Rosso and Chad Riley have one goal each. Prescod and Riley lead the team with six assists, while Detter and Goldthwaite each have five. The 33 goals are the most scored by an Irish team since the 38 scored by the Irish during their 21-game season in 1997. Notre Dame’s defense has been spectacular this season as the Irish own a team goals against average of 0.98 while registering eight shutouts. At one stretch in October, Clark’s squad registered five consecutive shutouts. The eight shutouts are the most since ’96 when that Irish squad registered 10 in 23 games. Senior Griffin Howard and junior Andreas Forstner anchor Notre Dame’s defensive attack along with Ratcliffe and sophomore Kevin Richards. Howard, Forstner and Ratcliffe are the only three Irish players who have started all 18 games this season, while Richards has been in the starting lineup in each of the 17 games he has played. Freshman Chris Sawyer became Notre Dame’s starting goalkeeper in the sixth game of the season and has a 10-3-0 overall record with six complete-game shutouts and a 6-2-0 conference record. His only three losses were 1-0 setbacks on the road at Seton Hall and Connecticut and versus St. John’s at a neutral site. Sawyer has a 0.52 goals against average and .870 save percentage as he has allowed just seven goals and made 47 saves. His goals against average ranks fifth nationally in Division I.
IRISH IN THE MEN’S SOCCER COLLEGE CUP – Notre Dame has a 1-4 record in the five games it has played in four NCAA tournament appearances. The first Irish team to earn an NCAA berth was the 1988 squad and that was followed by back-to-back appearances in 1993 and 1994. In 1996, after winning the BIG EAST crown and earning the automatic berth, the Irish stunned No. 2 seed UNC Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C. with 1-0 victory and then dropped a 1-0 decision to UNC Charlotte 1-0 with the game-winning goal scored in the final 24 seconds of the contest.
ALL-TIME NOTRE DAME NCAA RESULTS: 1988: SMU 2, Notre Dame (Dallas, Texas) (first round) 1993: Wisconsin 3, Notre Dame 1 (Madison, Wis.) (first round) 1994: Indiana 1, Notre Dame 0 – overtime (Bloomington, Ind.) (first round) 1996: Notre Dame 1, UNC Greensboro 0 (Greensboro, N.C.) (first round) UNC Charlotte 1, Notre Dame 0 (Charolotte, Ind) (quarterfinal round)
SERIES RECORD VS. MARYLAND – This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools and will be the second Atlantic Coast Conference opponent the Irish have played this season. Earlier in the 2001 campaign, the Irish faced Clemson in a game played in Greenville, S.C. at Furman University and dropped a 4-0 decision.
SERIES RECORD VS. LOYOLA (MD) – A second-round matchup between the two schools would be the second such meeting. The first and only game in the series was played on Sept., 23, 1979 with the two teams playing to a 2-2 overtime deadlock at Notre Dame.
LEADER OF THE PACK – For the first time in BIG EAST history, the league will be represented by six teams in the 2001 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. The BIG EAST leads all conferences with its six selections. In addition to Notre Dame, Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers, St. John’s and Seton Hall all earned spots in the 48-team field. Both St. John’s and Connecticut will serve as hosts for the first and second rounds.
HEAD COACH BOBBY CLARK – Bobby Clark is in his first season at Notre Dame. He was named the fifth head coach in the history of the Notre Dame men’s soccer program on Jan. 19, 2001. In his 15th season as a collegiate coach, Clark was victorious in his debut on the Irish sidelines in Notre Dame’s 5-0 win over Villanova. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent five seasons guiding the Stanford Cardinal to a 71-21-12 record and .740 winning percentage from 1996-2000. Clark also was the head coach at Dartmouth from 1985-1993 where he led the Big Green to an 82-42-13 mark (.646). Heading into this season, Clark ranked 15th among active Division I head men’s soccer coaches in terms of winning percentage. In 14-plus seasons, he owns a 165-69-25 record for a .685 winning percentage. Seven of Clark’s teams have advanced to NCAA tournament play with his 1998 Stanford squad finishing as the NCAA runnerup that season. In between his coaching stints at Dartmouth and Stanford, he was head coach of the New Zealand National Team. Clark coached his 250th college game on Oct. 11 when the Irish traveled to West Virginia.
CLARK LEADS THIRD DIFFERENT TEAM INTO NCAAs – As a coach, Bobby Clark is certainly NCAA tournament tested. Coaching at his third school, this will be the third different school which he has guided to the NCAA postseason. At Dartmouth, he led the Big Green to two NCAA appearances in nine years with the first coming in 1990, his sixth season. At Stanford, the Cardinal made four NCAA appearnaces in five years. The first came in his second season in Palo Alto, Calif. (1997). Notre Dame’s appearance this year marks the first time he has led one of his teams into the NCAAs in his initial season at the helm. Four of Clark’s teams have advanced to the quarterfinals.
CLARK IN ELITE COMPANY – Bobby Clark was honored as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year as he engineered a great turnaround as the Irish have already eclipsed their season win-total of a year ago by four games. Clark becomes just the second first-year coach in the league’s history to earn the award in his first season and becomes the first Notre Dame coach selected for the award.
NOTRE DAME CELEBRATING 25TH SEASON OF VARSITY COMPETITION – The 2001 campaign marks the 25th season of varsity competition for the Notre Dame men’s soccer team. Since its inaugural campaign in 1977, Irish teams have compiled a 329-164-43 mark for a .654 winning percentage. Notre Dame has won 20-plus games on three occasions and 15 or more games 11 times. In the program’s history, only five teams have had a losing season.
IRISH EYES ARE SMILING – Notre Dame’s six-game win streak prior to the loss to Connecticut on Oct. 27 was the longest since the 1991 campaign. The Irish’s 12 wins are already more than in each of the two previous seasons. The seven BIG EAST wins were the most ever by a Notre Dame team since joining the BIG EAST in 1996. It’s five-game conference win streak (victories over Georgetown, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Providence) was the longest by an Irish squad. During the six-game win streak, the Irish outscored their opponents 13-1.
ROAD WARRIORS FIND SUCCESS – Notre Dame is having one of its best seasons playing on the road as the Irish sport an overall record of 5-5 (5-3 on the home field of their opponents and 0-2 in a neutral site contest). During the month of October, Notre Dame played five of nine games away from the friendly confines of Alumni Field and finished with a 4-1 record. The Irish also had a stretch during the season where they played seven of nine games on the road and were 5-2 in those road contests.
ROLLING ALONG – Erich Braun’s 12 goals this season are a personal best for the third-year forward who scored nine goals as a freshman. His 27 points (12 goals, three assists) also marks a career-best. He is the first player since Shane Walton in 1998 to register 10-plus goals in a season. Braun had a six-game goal-scoring streak during the season that was snapped when the Irish lost to Connecticut 1-0. Prior to the season finale against Syracuse, Braun had scored in every game in which Notre Dame had scored a goal. He also did not score in Notre Dame’s win over Georgetown on Saturday night.
PRESCOD POWER – Sophomore Devon Prescod has had a presence in the Irish lineup this season as he has earned 17 starts in the 18 games he has played. Entering the 2001 campaign, Prescod had one goal to his credit. This year, he stands second in the Irish scoring column with six goals and a team-leading six assists (18 points). Prescod has had either a goal or an assist in six of Notre Dame’s last 10 games.
DETTER, GOLDTHWAITE THIRD IN IRISH SCORING COLUMN – Justin Detter and Kevin Goldthwaite each stand third in the scoring column with four goals and five assists each for 13 points. Detter recorded the second multiple-goal game of his career in Notre Dame’s win over Cleveland State on Sept. 19 when he tallied two goals and an assist. The five points marked the most in a single game by the Irish sophomore. Detter’s first multiple-goal outing occurred in 2000 in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Northwestern. Goldthwaite has produced three game-winning goals in his rookie season, including the overtime score in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Syracuse one week ago. He had the first multiple-point game of his career in the previous outing (ND’s 4-0 over IUPUI) as he tallied a goal and dished off an assist.
RILEY FINALLY FINDS THE NET – Chad Riley, Notre Dame’s leading scorer a year ago as a freshman, registered his first goal of the season against Georgetown in the BIG EAST quarterfinals when he tallied the game-winner against Georgetown. Riley, who stands fifth in the scoring column with eight points, leads the team, along with teammate Devon Prescod, with six assists. Riley has dished out two assists in both the Georgetown and Providence wins. As a freshman, he had three goals and a team-best six assists for 12 points.
IRISH MAKING IT TOUGH – Notre Dame’s combined efforts in goal and on defense has produced tremendous results as the Irish have a 0.98 goals against average as a team following five straight shutouts and eight total for the entire season. Coach Bobby Clark’s squad did not give up a goal in more than 500 minutes spanning five-plus contests. Before giving up the score at the 15:03 mark of the contest against Connecticut, Notre Dame had not been scored upon since the 52:58 mark of the Georgetown game on Oct. 5.
MONUMENTAL WIN – Notre Dame pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the program’s history when the Irish defeated then sixth-ranked Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. The win was just the second ever for Notre Dame in the series spanning 21 games. Heading into the contest, the Hoosiers had won nine straight and held a commanding 18-1-1 advantage in the contest. It was the first win ever for the Irish in Bloomington and the first victory since a 4-3 win in 1987.
OCTOBERFEST – Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 22-4 during the month of October and through its first three games in November after being outscored 14-13 in the month of September. The Irish have outscored their opponents 33-18 this season. The 33 goals are already 14 more than Notre Dame scored during the entire 2000 campaign (19 goals).
IRISH ROOKIE MAKING AN IMPRESSION – Rookie goalkeeper Chris Sawyer has been in the starting lineup for each of the last 12 games and has allowed just six goals in 1204:45 of action. He has a 0.52 goals against average and .870 save percentage. He was 6-2 in the eight BIG EAST regular-season games he has played in and has an overall record of 10-3 this season.
SCORING OFFENSE UP – Notre Dame struggled to score goals in 2000 with just 19 goals in 17 games. This season, the Irish have already exceeded their goal-scoring total with 33 goals in the 18 games.
FRESHMEN GETTING INTO THE ACT – Notre Dame’s freshman class is beginning to make its presence felt on the field. Three rookies – Chris Sawyer, Jack Stewart and Kevin Goldthwaite – were all in the starting lineup in the Irish win over Virginia Tech (the most freshmen to start in a game this season) and each has been in the starting lineup since that contest nine games ago. Sawyer has started 13 of the 14 games he has played in goal, while Stewart has has gotten the starting nod in the last 11 contests. Goldthwaite has cracked the starting lineup nine times this season.
HOME SWEET HOME – Notre Dame finished 7-1 at home this season at Alumni Field after just a 4-4 mark last year. The Irish own a 76-28-7 all-time record for a .716 winning percentage at Alumni Field. The 2001 campaign marks the 11th season for the Irish playing at Alumni Field.
A GAME OF FIRSTS – Notre Dame’s win over Villanova proved to be a night of firsts for many associated with the team. First, head coach Bobby Clark got his first win with the Irish in his coaching debut. Three players – freshman Kevin Goldthwaite, sophomore Greg Martin and junior Justin Ratcliffe tallied their first collegiate goals. Martin had the first multiple-point game of his career as he also dished off his first career assist.
GETTING INTO THE ACTION – Of the six freshmen on the Irish roster, two rookies – Kevin Goldthwaite and Jack Stewart have seen action in all 18 games coming. Goldthwaite’s first collegiate game will be one to remember as his first goal in a Notre Dame uniform came off of his first-ever shot in a game. It also was the first goal scored by the Irish in 2001.
GOOD BIG EAST START – Notre Dame continued its trend of success in BIG EAST openers with its 5-0 win over Villanova in what was the season and conference opener for the Irish. Overall, Notre Dame is 5-1-1 in league openers since becoming a conference member in 1995. The Irish dropped their league opener last season at Boston College (2-0) and tied Pittburgh (0-0) in 1997. Both of those games were on the road. Notre Dame’s five wins this season in the BIG EAST already matches its season total of a year ago.
YOUNG GUNS – The 25-man Notre Dame roster is comprised of just four seniors and nine juniors with almost half of the squad made up of sophomores and freshmen. Bobby Clark inherited a program which returned eight starters and 19 letterwinners from last year’s squad.
IRONMAN – Junior defender Andreas Forstner has missed just one start in the 53 games he has played during his collegiate career. Forstner started 17 of the 18 games he played during his rookie season and started all 18 contests in 2000. This season, he has been one of three players who has started all 17 games. Heading into the matchup with St. John’s, the third-year Irish player has made 36 consecutive starts and has played in 52 of 53 career games.
RACKING UP THE AWARDS – Notre Dame had a record five players earn all-conference honors Erich Braun and Justin Detter became just the second and third players, repectively, to earn first-team all-BIG EAST honors, while Griffin Howard and Chris Sawyer earned second-team accolades. Chad Riley was named to the third team to round out Notre Dame’s presence on the all-conference teams. Sawyer was one of just three freshman to earn on spot on one of the three all-league teams.