Sept. 30, 2003
A shake up in the national rankings last week and steady play over the last month by the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (6-1-2, 2-1-1) moved the Irish up to fourth in the latest Soccer America ranking, released late Monday, Sept. 29. Notre Dame will put its four-game win streak on the line in two conference road games this week, at Syracuse Thursday (7:00 p.m.) and at Pittsburgh on Sunday (1:00 p.m.).
While there are several national rankings for collegiate men’s soccer, Soccer America is one of the oldest and most respected. The Irish debuted at third in the Soccer America preseason poll before falling after their only loss of the season (a 3-0 setback to St. John’s). Notre Dame has worked its way back up the rankings by playing solid defense (including posting four shutouts in a row) and not dropping another game since its loss to the Red Storm.
While compiling its solid 6-1-2 overall record, Notre Dame has faced one of the toughest early-season schedules in the nation. After a scoreless tie with #20 Alabama-Birmingham began the season, the Irish earned a 2-1 overtime decision against #11 California at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind.
Notre Dame’s home opener ended up as the disappointing 3-0 loss to #13 St. John’s (which has been ranked as high as fifth in the country this season), but the Irish rebounded to finish a September-long homestand with a 5-1-1 record. During that homestand, Notre Dame defeated #19 Indiana and battling current-#9 Akron to a scoreless tie.
The schedule does not get much easier for the Irish in the upcoming months. Notre Dame is scheduled to face #17 Connecticut and #22 Rutgers later in the season, as well as attempt to battle its way through the challenging BIG EAST Championship.
In the other national polls, Notre Dame is consistently ranked in the top 10 as well. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) puts the Irish at #8, as does the Soccer Times and College Soccer News lists. The NSCAA also is responsible for regional rankings and Notre Dame is ranked number one in the Great Lakes Region – ahead of Oakland, Akron, Dayton and Louisville.