Aug. 22, 2002

Notre Dame, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team will play two exhibition games at home on Alumni Field before its 2002 season opener against Southwest Missouri St. in the opening round of the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb., on Sat., Aug. 31.

The Irish will play host to Bethel College on Fri., Aug. 23 at 7:00 p.m. and to Michigan on Mon., Aug. 26 in their final tuneup test before the opening game. The home opener will take place on Sat., Sept. 7 against BIG EAST rival Seton Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Notre Dame, under second-year head coach Bobby Clark , returns nine starters from last year’s team which finished with a final 12-7 record and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish tied for second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standing with a 7-3 league mark – the most wins and their best finish since becoming a conference member in 1995.

Clark’s squad was picked to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll behind 2001 regular-season champion Connecticut and last year’s league tournament champion St. John’s. Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) has been selected as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Senior forward Erich Braun (Frankfurt, Germany) and junior midfielder Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) also were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.

Notre Dame’s top two scoring leaders from a year ago – Braun and junior forward Devon Prescod (Marietta, Ga.) return. Braun topped the Irish scoring charts last year for the second time in three seasons with a personal-best 12 goals and three assists, while Prescod netted six goals and dished off six assists.

The tri-captains for the ’02 campaign will be Braun, senior midfielder Justin Ratcliffe (Miami, Fla.) and junior midfielder Greg Martin (Plano, Texas).

Notre Dame will play nine home games during the season and will face nine opponents who advanced to NCAA tournament play in ’01. The Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament will take place this year on Fri., Sept. 13 and Sun., Sept. 15. The field also includes Furman, Cornell and Bradley. Notre Dame will meet Cornell and Furman, respectively, in the two-day tournament.