Aug. 1, 2002
Providence, R.I. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team, which returns nine starters from last year’s team which finished with a 12-7-0 record, has been chosen to finish third in the Preseason BIG EAST Coaches Poll. Connecticut, the 2001 regular-season champion, has been selected to capture the 2002 crown by a vote of the league’s 13 head coaches, while St. John’s was chosen to finish second.
Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) has been selected as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, while he and teammates Erich Braun (Frankfurt, Germany) and Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) have been named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.
The Irish tied for second with St. John’s in the ’01 BIG EAST regular-season race with a 7-3-0 record. The seven wins represented the most by a Notre Dame in league play since becoming a conference member in 1995, while its second-place finish was the highest in school history. Under then first-year head coach Bobby Clark, the ’01 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, Notre Dame earned an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament – its fifth overall appearance in school history and first since 1996. The Irish also advanced to the semifinals of the league championship for the third time.
Sawyer was one of 11 players named to the Soccer America All-Freshman Team last season and was a second-team all-BIG EAST selection. He started 14 of 15 games for the Irish during the season and posted a 10-4-0 record, while registering 6.5 shutouts and playing 1294:45 of a possible 1739:22 minutes. Sawyer allowed just eight goals and made 48 saves for a .857 save percentage. In addition, his 0.56 goals against average ranked fifth nationally as he registered six complete-game shutouts. In conference play, he allowed only four goals in eights and posted four shutouts.
Braun, a senior forward, and Detter, a junior midfielder, were both first-team all-conference selections last season. Braun has led the Irish in scoring in two of his three seasons. He finished last season with a team-high and personal-best 12 goals and 27 points, in addition to dishing off three assists. Braun, the 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, scored a goal in all but two games in which the Irish scored a goal during the ’01 campaign.
Detter was Notre Dame’s third-leading score with four goals and five assists (13 points) and was one of three Irish players who started all 19 games in ’01.
For the second consecutive year, the BIG EAST will play a 10-game conference slate. The top eight teams based on regular season records will qualify for the BIG EAST Soccer Championship. Quarterfinal games will be held on campus sites on Nov. 9 or 10, while the semifinals and final will be held at the Rutgers Soccer Stadium on Nov. 15 and 17.
Notre Dame will play nine teams in ’02 which advanced to NCAA tournament a year ago. The Irish open up the campaign against Southwest Missouri State on Sat., Aug. 31 in the first round of the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb., and will play their first conference game against Seton Hall on Sat., Sept. 7 at Alumni Field.
2002 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll
Points 1. Connecticut (8) 139 2. St. John’s (4) 132 3. NOTRE DAME 119 4. Rutgers (1) 116 5. Boston College 99 6. Seton Hall 85 7. Syracuse 79 8. Georgetown 73 9. Virginia Tech 55 10. Pittsburgh 37 11. West Virginia 35 12. Villanova 30 13. Providence 15
( ) – first-place votes in parentheses
Offensive Player of the Year
Casey Schmidt, Sr., Boston College
Defensive Player of the Year
Chris Wingert, Jr., St. John’s
Goalkeeper of the Year
CHRIS SAWYER, SO., NOTRE DAME
PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST TEAM
Guy Abrahamson, Sr., B, Rutgers
ERICH BRAUN, SR., F, NOTRE DAME
Anthony Curtis, Sr., M, Connecticut
JUSTIN DETTER, Jr., M, NOTRE DAME
Sherif El Bialy, Sr., F, Rutgers
Kirk Johnson, Jr., F, Syracuse
Ryan McGowan, Jr., M, Seton Hall
Guy Melamed, So., B, Boston College
CHRIS SAWYER, SO., GK, NOTRE DAME
Casey Schmidt, Sr., F, Boston College
*Chris Wingert, Jr., B, St. John’s