August 30, 1998

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame mens soccer team opens up the 1998 campaign at home against Valapraiso on Alumni Field on Tuesday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. The upcoming season marks the 21st in the history of the Irish mens soccer program.

Ninth-year head coach Mike Berticelli and the Irish enter their fourth season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. Notre Dame plays its league opener at Syracuse on Saturday, September 5 at 7:00 p.m.

The Irish were 10-9-2 overall a year ago and finished tied for fifth in the BIG EAST regular season standings with a 5-5-1 mark. Berticellis squad advanced to the 1997 BIG EAST tournament semifinals for the second consecutive year after capturing the leagues tournament crown in 1996 in.


Ohio State: Notre Dame fell to Ohio State 2-1 in the first of two exhibition games. Buckeye Brian Feldhaus scored two goals to lead the visitors. He netted goals in each half, tallying his first goal at 35:24 off a Tony Monroe assist and then his second score off a Roger Roush feed 3:57 into the second half. Notre Dames lone goal was scored by freshman Shane Walton (San Diego, Calif.) off an Andrew Aris (Auckland, New Zealand) assist. Goalkeeper Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) had six saves for the Irish.

DePaul: Two second half goals by Ben Bocklage (St. Louis, Mo.) and Aris helped the Irish in the 3-1 come-from-behind victory over the Blue Demons. DePaul jumped out to a 1-0 lead 18:37 into the contest, but Notre Dames Matt McNew (Arlington, Tex.) tied the game at 1-1 less than three minutes later when he he headed in a David Cutler (Seattle, Wash.) pass that was lofted from 30 yards out. Bocklage put the Irish ahead for good at the 64:11 mark when he picked up a loose ball and drove it from 25 yards out into the left corner of the net. Aris insurance goal came less than nine minutes later at 73:02 when he took a Scott Wells (Phoenix, Ariz.) feed and put it into the net from just outside the penalty box.

HEAD COACH MIKE BERTICELLI – Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli begins his ninth season along the Irish sidelines and 23nd 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 87-65-13 (.567) mark at Notre Dame and is 274-120-36 (.679) 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.


Valparaiso: This will be the 26th meeting between the two school dating back to 1977. Notre Dame has won all 25 previous contests and is 14-0 against the Crusaders at home. Last season, the Irish posted a 5-0 win at Valparaiso and have not allowed a goal the last three times these two squads have faced each other. In addition, Notre Dame has posted shutouts in five of the last six games and have outscored the Crusaders 26-1.

Syracuse: The series is even at 2-2 and Notre Dame is 1-0 on the road against the Orangemen. Syracuse won last years meeting 1-0, after the Irish earned victories in both 1995 (3-0) and 1996 (1-0) -Notre Dames first two seasons in the BIG EAST.

NOTRE DAME IN SEASON OPENERS – Notre Dame has a 12-7-2 (.619) record in season openers and is 4-3-1during Berticellis eight-year tenure. Notre Dame faced Pittsburgh on the road a year ago and tied the Panthers 0-0. In 1996, the Irish earned a 1-0 win at Providence and in 1995 posted an 8-0 win at home against DePaul. The last time Notre Dame dropped a season opener was against Penn State on the road (1-0) to start the 1994 campaign.

HOME SWEET HOME – In eight seasons at Alumni Field, the Irish have won 72 percent of their contests in posting a 53-19-5 (.721) record. Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past three seasons. The Irish, however, 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. Four of the six wins 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 squad recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home. Notre Dame’s two 1-0 wins over Villanova and Rutgers late September last season marked the 21st and 22nd shutouts for the Irish at Alumni Field in four seasons.

IRISH IN SEARCH OF ANOTHER 10-WIN SEASON – Notre Dames 10-9-2 record a year ago marked the sixth 10-win season for the Irish in the last eight years. The Irish won 14 games in 1996 in advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The most victories for a Berticelli-coached team is 15 (1993) when the Irish finished with a 15-6-0 record.

THE CAPTAINS – Notre Dames captains for the 1998 season are seniors Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.), a midfielder, and Phil Murphy (Brentwood, Tenn.), a defender. Johnson was a co-captain for the Irish last year and is one of only eight players in the prgrams history to serve as a two-time captain.

BIG EAST HONOR ROLL – Twelve Irish mens soccer players were named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team in June. Returning players in 1998 named to the team were: David Cutler, Matt DeDominicis (Simsbury, Conn.), Griffin Howard (San Diego, Calif.), Matt Johnson, Connor LaRose (Claremont, Calif.). Stephen Maio (Aurora, Ontario), Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.), Phil Murphy and Greg Velho.

THE SLIMMEST OF MARGINS – Notre Dame was involved in 11 games this season that were decided by a single goal. The Irish are 4-7 in those contests. Five of the last seven games have been one-goal decisions. Five of the seven one-goal losses have been to BIG EAST teams. Notre Dame’s four wins have come against Eastern Illinois, Villanova, Rutgers and TCU.

IRONMAN – Matt Johnson has played in all 63 games throughout his career and has made starting appearances in 62 of those contests. The only start he has missed was against Georgetown during the 1995 season. Heading into his final campaign, the two-time captain has one goal and seven assists (nine points).

SCOUTING THE IRISH – Notre Dame returns 17 letterwinners and seven starters from last years squad. The Irish will need to replace its top two leading scorers from a year ago – Ryan Turner (12 goals, 4 assists) and Bill Savarino (4 goals, 6 assists). The Irish will be searching for several “go-to” players for scoring.

Senior forward Scott Wells returns up front for the Notre Dame. He finished third in the Irish scoring column last season with two goals and a team-leading eight assists (12 points). He started 18 games a year ago. Expected to join Wells up front will be junior Ryan Cox (Broadview Heights, Ohio) and freshman Shane Walton. Cox, an all-BIG EAST Rookie selection as a freshman, was hampered by injuries last season and played in just the first two games of the 97 campaign.

Matt Johnson solidifies a strong midfield defensively, while Matt McNew, who moved up from his sweeper position in the backfield, will give the Irish strength on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. McNew has the potential to score goals for the Irish. Last season, he had two goal and two assists. The Irish should generate some offense from the midfield with the return of senior Ben Bocklage, junior Andrew Aris and freshman Reggie McKnight. Bocklage had five goals a year ago and has the most career goals of any returning Irish player (17). Aris, who can play as both a forward and midfielder, was fifth in the Irish scoring column as a sophomore netting three goals and dishing off four assists. McKnight had a sensational rookie outing as he finished as the teams fourth leading scorer (4 goals, 3 assists).

Defensively, the Irish will need to be strong. Phil Murphy and David Cutler provide the most experience in the backfield. Murphy started all 20 contests he played in last season, while Cutler got the nod in 16 games. Sophomores Stephen Maio and Connor LaRose are somewhat short on game experience, but should form a solid Irish defensive unit as the season progresses. Griffin Howard and Matt DeDominicis also will see considerable playing time and will push for a starting job.

Greg Velho begins his fourth season as the Irish starter. He posted a 1.23 goals against average last season in allowing just 27 goals and making eight saves. Velho registered eight shutouts and has 21 for his career.

NOTRE DAME TABBED SIXTH IN PRESEASON POLL – In a preseason poll by vote of the leagues 12 head coaches, Notre Dame has been chosen to finish sixth. St. Johns which won the 96 national championship has been selected as the preseason favorite to repeat as regular season champions. Connecticut is picked to finish second followed by Rutgers, Georgetown and Seton Hall.

Last year, the Irish tied for fifth in the regular season standings and then advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament for the second straight year. Notre Dame, which is in its fourth year as a member of the BIG EAST, won the leagues tournament crown in 96. The Irish have compiled a 15-15-4 record in regular season games and 4-1 mark in five tournament appearances.

The BIG EAST, which had three teams earn NCAA tournament berths last season, has four teams ranked in the preseason polls – St. Johns (9th NSCAA, 10th Soccer America), Rutgers (19th NSCAA, 8th Soccer America), Georgetown (20th NSCAA, 19th Soccer America) and Connecticut (18th Soccer America).


'97 Overall '97 BIG EAST Record Record & Finish 1. St. John's 18-4-2 9-1-1 (1st) 2. Connecticut 11-7-2 5-6-0 (7th) 3. Rutgers 14-7-2 7-2-2 (3rd) 4. Georgetown 15-7-0 9-2-0 (2nd) 5. Seton Hall 11-8-0 7-4-0 (4th) 6. NOTRE DAME 10-9-2 5-5-1 (T5th) 7. Boston College 5-9-2 4-6-1 (T8th) Syracuse 7-11-1 3-7-1 (10th) 9. Pittsburgh 10-5-4 3-5-3 (T8th)10. West Virginia 7-13-0 3-8-0 (11th)11. Villanova 6-9-5 4-4-3 (T5th)12. Providence 3-15-0 1-10-0 (12th)

NSCAA/Umbro (Preseason)

 1. UCLA    2. Virginia   3. Indiana   4. Saint Louis 5. American 6. Southern Methodist 7. Washington 8. South Carolina 9. St. Johns10. Creighton 11. Maryland12. Clemson13. South Florida14. Duke15. Bowling Green16. Dartmouth17. Florida International18. William & Mary19. Rutgers20. Georgetown21. Stanford22. Boston University23  Southwest Missouri State24. Virginia Commonwealth25. North Carolina State


 1. UCLA 2. Indiana 3. Saint Louis 4. Virginia 5. Maryland 6. Stanford 7. Clemson 8. Rutgers 9. Duke10. St. Johns11. Brown12. Portland13. Dartmouth14  Boston University15. Southern Methodist16. Furman17. Creighton18. Connecticut19. Georgetown20. UNC Greensboro