April 27, 2005
2004-05 Notre Dame Men’s Soccer
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team wrapped up its 2005 spring exhibition schedule with a memorable 1-0 victory over the Mexican U-17 National Team on Friday, April 22, in front of a packed house at Alumni Field.
The spring season ended on a wonderful high note with the victory, as the same Mexican team had defeated defending national champion Indiana earlier in the same week. The win also ended the exhibition season for the Irish with the team suffering just one loss in 13 games (7-1-5 overall).
Freshmen Kurt Martin and Joe Lapira combined on the goal against the Mexican team, as Martin found Lapira behind the defense. Lapira unleashed a cannon shot which bent into the top corner of the Mexican goal for a spectacular play.
The Irish also benefited from a strong contingent of soccer alumni on hand for the Mexican game, as the large group of vocal former Irish players returned to take part in the annual Alumni Game on Saturday, April 23. Featuring such memorable alumni as Greg Tait (’03), Paul Rodriquez (’03), Greg Martin (’04), Chad Riley (’04), Devon Prescod (’04), Kevin Richards (’04), Rafael Garcia (’03), Andreas Forstner (’03), Jason Jorski (’00), Larry Smith (’83), Joe Cuini (’81), Mario Manta (’83), Ted Schwarts (’84), Tiger McCourt (’89), Dave Krus (’86), Rob Snyder (’84), John “Jack” Gibbs (’86) and Brian Engesser (’97), just to name a few of the former Irish players in attendance, the Alumni Team took a 1-0 lead before current Irish players Joe Lapira and Tony Megna notched second-half goals to push the current team to a 2-1 victory.
The Notre Dame men’s soccer program was also proud to welcome back former Irish head coach Rich Hunter (1977-83) to campus for the weekend festivities.
After the completion of the Alumni Game, the team gathered for its annual awards banquet at the Morris Inn.
The Bert Award was presented to Bruce Novotny (’84), who maintains www.notredamesoccer.net on the web which offers a great place for Irish soccer alumni to keep up with the current team. The website features highlights from all of Notre Dame’s contests during the season in addition to photos and updated information on the Irish soccer program.
The team’s Spirit Award was presented to senior Christopher High, who played a support role on the team for his first two years before becoming a main-line starter in his junior and senior seasons.
The Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award was earned by future 2005 team captain John Stephens. Stephens posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in the fall of 2004 to raise his cumulative GPA to 3.8.
The team’s Monogram Club Most Valuable Player award, voted on by the Irish players, was awarded to Jack Stewart. Stewart, a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Fire, played in 82 games during his career and was widely regarded as the best defensive player in the nation. He earned the BIG EAST Conference defensive player of the year award in 2004.
Tony Megna battles for possession of the ball in Notre Dame’s exhibition win over the Mexican U-17 Natonal Team.
The wonderful Mexican Game/Alumni Weekend ending to the spring exhibition season should not overlook the hard work by the Irish in the team’s previous contests. Notre Dame hosted three consecutive mini-tournaments (featuring three games with two 25-minute halves each) in April, along with a Spring Break trip to Florida.
The team began the exhibition slate during Spring Break in Bradenton, Fla., defeating Virginia 3-1. Sophomore Justin McGeeney, junior Tony Megna and freshman Joe Lapira scored the goals for the Irish.
The team also faced the U.S. U-17 National Team, falling to the squad 3-1 for the only defeat of the spring season for the Irish. Facing a quick turnaround from the Virginia game, the Irish battled a team fresh off a series of exhibitions against a number of Major League Soccer teams. While the Irish controlled most of the action, they could not take advantage of several scoring opportunities.
Notre Dame returned to campus on Saturday, April 2, to host a mini-tournament with IPFW, Valparaiso and Michigan taking part. The Irish finished 2-0-1 in the one-day event, with a scoreless tie vs. IPFW, a 1-0 victory over Michigan (goal scored by Greg Dalby) and 3-0 win over Valparaiso (goals by Kurt Martin, Alex Yoshinaga and Jon Mark Thompson).
The following weekend (April 9), the Irish played host to Loyola Chicago, Western Michigan and Bradley for another mini-tournament. On a beautiful spring day in Northern Indiana, the Irish defeated Loyola Chicago 3-0 on goals by Ben Crouse, Megna and Lapira. The team ended up with ties in its next two matches, a scoreless matchup with Bradley and a 2-2 battle with Western Michigan (goals by Dalby and McGeeney).
The final mini-tournament weekend was Saturday, April 16, as the Irish completed the weekend with a 1-0-2 record. The tournament began with a 0-0 tie with Oakland, then a 1-1 battle with Northwestern. Notre Dame won the final game of the tournament 1-0 over Northern Illinois.
Justin Michaud earned his first significant shutout victory in the spring, shutting down the Mexican U-17 National Team in Notre Dame’s 1-0 victory.
Notre Dame Spring Exhibition Schedule Results
vs. Virginia, W, 3-1
vs. U.S. U-17 National Team, L, 1-3
vs. IPFW, T, 0-0
vs. Michigan, W, 1-0
vs. Valparasio, W, 3-0
vs. Loyola Chicago, W, 3-1
vs. Bradley, T, 0-0
vs. Western Michigan, T, 2-2
vs. Oakland, T, 0-0
vs. Northwestern, T, 1-1
vs. Northern Illinois, W, 1-0
vs. Mexican U-17 National Team, W, 1-0
vs. Notre Dame Alumni, W, 2-1
Overall Record: 7-1-5