Senior Tony Megna and his Fighting Irish teammates have a tough slate ahead of them this weekend as they take on No. 7 SMU and No. 10 Wake Forest.

No. 16 Fighting Irish To Open Season Versus No. 7 SMU On Friday

Aug. 31, 2005


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adidas/IU Credit Union Classic

#16 Notre Dame vs. #7 SMU
Friday, Sept. 2 – 5:00 p.m.

#16 Notre Dame vs. #10 Wake Forest
Sunday, Sept. 4 – 12:00 p.m.

Notre Dame will open its 29th year of men’s soccer as a varsity sport when the Fighting Irish travel to Bloomington, Ind. to compete in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Friday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 4. The Irish are coming off the program’s fist BIG EAST regular-season title in 2004, which was preceded by the Irish’s second BIG EAST tournament title in 2003 (the first occurred in 1996).

A dominating defense was the key to Notre Dame’s success in 2004. This year, the Irish have some questions to answer with the defense. However, a veteran offensive attack should have the Fighting Irish back among the nation’s best. Notre Dame is also bringing in another solid freshman class that will be able to bring a spark to the Irish lineup.

Head coach Bobby Clark, who is entering his fifth season at Notre Dame, has led the Fighting Irish to four straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the program’s first-ever trip to the round of 16 during the 2003 season. Notre Dame has landed the tournament’s No. 5 seed each of the past two seasons and look to make it another solid run at the title in 2005. The Irish are ranked in the top-20 of all the major preseason polls.

A MARQUEE EVENT: The adidas/IU Credit Union Classic will showcase some of the nation’s top teams … each participating squad had a top-seven seed in last year’s NCAA tournament (Wake Forest #1, Indiana #2, Notre Dame #5, SMU #7) … Indiana enters as the top-ranked team in the country in every major poll … the two-time defending national champions will be aiming for the program’s seventh title … SMU is ranked seventh in the NSCAA/adidas poll and eighth in the Soccer America preseason rankings … the Mustangs made it to the Sweet 16 of the 2004 College Cup … Wake Forest, the top-seed of last year’s NCAA tournament, is currently ranked 10th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings and 18th in Soccer America … the Demon Deacons were eliminated in the round of 16 during last year’s College Cup … the Irish enter the classic as the No. 16/19 team nationally … Notre Dame was defeated by Ohio State, 2-1, in the second round of the NCAAs last season.

IRISH HISTORY AT THE adidas/IU CREDIT CLASSIC: This weekend will mark the sixth trip to the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic for the Fighting Irish (1989, 1992, 1993, 2003, 2004) … Notre Dame owns a 4-5-1 overall mark at the tournament … the Irish are 3-0-1 over their past two visits to the classic … in 2003, Notre Dame tied No. 20 UAB 0-0 in double-overtime before defeating No. 11 California, 2-1, in double-overtime … last year, the Fighting Irish took out Oregon State by a 2-1 tally and then also beat Boston University 2-0.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS SMU: When the Irish take to the pitch versus SMU on Friday evening it will mark the fourth time that these two teams have faced each other … the Mustangs own a 2-0-1 mark against the Fighting Irish … Notre Dame has yet to score a goal in the series, yet each match has been closely contested … the teams last met during the 1997 season as SMU defeated Notre Dame 1-0 in Dallas, Texas … here is a list of the of Notre Dame-SMU contests of the past …

11/13/88, Dallas, Texas, SMU – 2, ND – 0 (NCAA 1st Round)
10/14/94, Notre Dame, Ind., SMU – 0, ND – 0 (2OT)
10/3/97, Dallas, Texas , SMU – 1, ND – 0

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS WAKE FOREST: Notre Dame has battled Wake Forest on two other occasions, with the Demon Deacons coming out victorious in each contest … the last meeting, a 2-1 decision, occurred during the 1994 season in Davidson, N.C. … here is a list of the prior meetings …

10/30/82, Winston-Salem, N.C., WF – 2, ND – 1
9/28/94, Davidson, N.C., WF – 1, ND – 0

IRISH IN SEASON-OPENERS: Notre Dame is 18-7-3 all time in season-openers, including 3-0-1 in the Bobby Clark era … the Fighting Irish defeated Oregon State 2-1 in last season’s opener at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic … the Irish have not lost a season-opener since the 1994 campaign, a 1-0 loss at No. 15 Penn State.

EXHIBITION RECAP (NEW MEXICO): Notre Dame opened exhibition play with a 1-1 double overtime tie versus No. 8 New Mexico on Monday, Aug. 22 at Alumni Field … the Irish fell behind in the 35th minute as the Lobos’ Matt Wootton sent a shot past Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Cahill … junior midfielder Ryan Miller put the Fighting Irish on the board in the 57th minute as he redirected a Nate Norman kick into the back of the net for the equalizer … neither team would score during the rest of regulation and through two 10-minute overtime periods … Cahill and Justin Michaud split time in goal for the Irish and they each collected three saves.

EXHIBITION RECAP (MICHIGAN): Notre Dame played its second straight overtime exhibition contest on Sunday, Aug. 28 as the Irish defeated Michigan 2-1 at the University of Michigan Soccer Field … junior forward Ian Etherington tallied the `golden goal’ off a pass from freshman Matt Besler in the 94th minute to send the Irish home with the victory … forward Nate Norman, a junior, gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead at the 23:06 mark of the contest … Michigan countered in the 64th minute as Kevin Savitskie scored off of an Adam Bruh corner kick … the Wolverine goal came against junior goalkeeper Chris Cahill, who played the final 62 minutes after replacing senior Justin Michaud … Michaud collected all three of the Irish saves on the day … each team could not find the back of the net during the final 26-plus minutes of regulation … however, it did not take long for the Irish to end the contest during the first overtime period … Besler sent a nice pass to Etherington, who dribbled past Michigan goalkeeper Patrick Sperry and sent the ball into the empty net for the game-winner. NEXT UP: The slate will not get any easier for the Fighting Irish following this weekend’s play … Notre Dame will host the fourth-annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Field on Friday, Sept. 9 and Sunday, Sept. 11 … a match-up versus Boston University awaits the Irish during day one at 7:30 p.m. … No. 1 Indiana will square off against No. 25 Saint Louis (5:00 p.m.) that day as well … Sunday’s action will feature Indiana battling Boston University (11:30 a.m.) and Notre Dame faces Saint Louis at 2:00 p.m.

IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark shares his thoughts on the upcoming 2005 season …

“We are starting to get into a rhythm but very few teams are in a rhythm after just two preseason games. We will be facing very good opposition and I hope that will test the team. A good start here could really springboard us for the rest of the season. This weekend and next weekend (the Mike Berticelli Tournament) will tell us where we are against fabulous opposition.”

“The preseason was very good for us. We had two tough games and we saw patches of excellence but we also struggled at times. But you can hardly ever play a full quality game against good competition.”

RETURNING POINTS: Notre Dame returns 63 of its 84 points from the 2004 season … five of the top six scorers are back for the Fighting Irish … junior forward Justin McGeeney returns after tallying a team-leading 12 points on five goals and two assists … junior midfielder Ian Etherington led the Irish in assists with five to go along with his three goals for a total of 11 points … senior forward Tony Megna tied McGeeney for the team-lead in goals with five during the ’04 campaign … as freshmen, Joe Lapira and Alex Yoshinaga each registered three goals and two assists for eight points.

IRISH IN THE RANKINGS: Notre Dame has found its name appear in the top-20 in all of the major preseason polls (NSCAA/adidas, Soccer America, Soccer Times and College Soccer News) … the Soccer Times poll has the Fighting Irish ranked 13th, which is the highest ranking for the Irish heading into the 2005 campaign … last year, the Irish opened the season ranked in the top-10 in all of those preseason polls … the team climbed as high as No. 4 in three of the polls (NSCAA/adidas, Soccer America, College Soccer News) during different points of the season … Notre Dame made it up to No. 2 in the Soccer Times rankings for two weeks (Oct. 25 and Nov. 2) … the Fighting Irish ended the season ranked 12th in the Soccer America poll and 17th in the NSCAA/adidas rankings.

NOTRE DAME PICKED SECOND IN BLUE DIVISION: Notre Dame was selected to finish second in the BIG EAST’s Blue Division behind Connecticut, while St. John’s was tabbed to be the league’s Red Division champion … the Irish collected seven first-place votes compared to the Huskies’ nine … Notre Dame was tabbed to finish third in the conference last year, yet went on to win the regular-season league title.

DALBY AND ETHERINGTON NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST TEAM: Junior midfielder Greg Dalby was one of three unanimous selections to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Team as voted on by the league’s 16 head coaches … Dalby’s classmate and fellow midfielder Ian Etherington joined him on the 13-man squad … Dalby was a second-team all-BIG EAST selection last season as he helped anchor the Irish midfield en route to the program’s first-ever BIG EAST regular-season title … the other unanimous choices for the preseason squad were St. John’s midfielder Matt Groenwald and Seton Hall forward Sacha Kljestan … Etherington garnered third-team all-BIG EAST honors in 2004 as he tied for team-high honors in points with seven on two goals and three assists during conference play … the junior midfielder was second overall on the Irish with 11 points by tallying three goals and a team-high five assists last season.

DALBY NAMED TO M.A.C. HERMANN TROPHY WATCH LIST: Greg Dalby was named to the 2005 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List … the trophy is presented annually to the top male and female Division I soccer player in the United States … the 25-man watch list was compiled by a panel of coaches from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) … two members of the Fighting Irish were named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2004 season … goalkeeper Chris Sawyer and defender Jack Stewart were selected prior to their senior campaigns … Stewart and his fellow senior teammate, Kevin Goldthwaite, were two of 15 semifinalists for the award and Sawyer collected All-American honors for the second straight season … Notre Dame and UCLA were the only schools to have at least one member of the men’s and women’s soccer team named to the 2005 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List … Jen Buczkowski, Candace Chapman and Katie Thorlakson were all named to the list for the Irish women.

COLLEGE SOCCER NEWS WATCH LIST: Greg Dalby was also selected to the College Soccer News Pre-Season All-America second team … the junior tri-captain was not the only Irish student-athlete honored by the publication, as four incoming freshmen were named to the `100 Freshmen to Watch’ list for the 2005 season … (M/D) Matt Besler, (F) Bright Dike, (GK) Luke Seibolt and (D) Jack Traynor were selected to the list and are all part of a very talented seven-man freshmen class for the Irish.

FRESHMAN CLASS NATIONALLY RANKED: Notre Dame’s seven-man freshman class was ranked 18th nationally by College Soccer News … (M/D) Matt Besler, (D) Kyle Dagan, (F) Bright Dike, (GK) Andrew Quinn, (M//D) Cory Rellas, (GK) Luke Seibolt and (D) Jack Traynor make up the talented crop of Fighting Irish rookies.

DALBY CAPTAINS U.S. UNDER-20s AT FIFA WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: Junior midfielder Greg Dalby captained the U.S. Under-20 team during a solid showing at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship this past summer … the U.S. won Group D, which was referred to as the `Group of Death’ entering play, with an undefeated 2-0-1 record … the highlight of the tournament occurred in the first match as the U.S. defeated eventual champion Argentina 1-0 … that would be Argentina’s only loss during its seven-game stretch … a disappointing 3-1 loss to Italy in the Round of 16 brought an end to the event for the U.S. … despite the loss, the U.S. still had a historic run at the tournament … back-to-back-to-back shutouts versus Argentina (1-0), Germany (0-0) and Egypt (1-0) in the tournament’s toughest group marks one of the greatest national team accomplishments in U.S. soccer history … the U.S. became just the 12th team in the tournament’s 28-year history to manage that feat … Dalby was one of 10 college players on the Under-20 team, which also featured a formidable mix of professional and high school standouts … one name easily recognizable to all soccer fans was DC United’s Freddy Adu, but the Under-20 team also featured Eddie Gaven (N.J. Metrostars), Jonathan Spector (Manchester United) and attacking players Jacob Peterson (Indiana) and Lee Nguyen (the lone high school player out of Texas).

McGEENEY WINS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Justin McGeeney, a junior forward, was part of the Des Moines (Iowa) Menace team that lifted the PDL national championship in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 13 … the Menace and the El Paso Patriots fought out a 0-0 tie in front of 7,000 spectators and the Menace took the title in a penalty kick tie-breaker.

METHEMBE NDLOVU NAMED COACH OF THE YEAR: Indiana Invaders head coach Methembe Ndlovu, a volunteer assistant coach for the Irish, was named the Premier Development League Coach of the Year on Aug. 11 … the award was voted on by the United Soccer League’s coaches and general managers … the second-year Invaders head coach led the team to its third straight 11-win season at 11-5-0, missing the postseason by one point for the second consecutive season … he was 11-5-0 in his debut last season.