Ian Etherington and the Fighting Irish are looking to capitalize on their home field advangate this Friday against Western Illinois.

Notre Dame And Western Illinois Set To Square Off In NCAA Tournament

Nov. 16, 2005


Western Illinois at Notre Dame

Friday, Nov. 18 – 5:00 p.m. – Alumni Field

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Notre Dame hosts Western Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Friday, Nov. 18 at 5:00 p.m. at Alumni Field. The Irish received an at-large bid to the 48-team field, while the Leathernecks entered the field with a Mid-Con Conference tournament championship. Notre Dame will be making its fifth straight appearance in the NCAAs and the ninth trip overall in program history. The winner of Friday’s match will take on Indiana, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, on Tuesday, Nov. 22 in Bloomington, Ind.

SNAPSHOT OF THE IRISH: Notre Dame is 10-7-3 overall and finished the season with a 6-4-1 mark in BIG EAST play … the Fighting Irish are coming off a 1-0 loss at St. John’s in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament … the Irish advanced to the quarterfinals by topping Syracuse 4-2 in penalty kicks following a scoreless tie … Notre Dame is 5-3-2 at home this season … sophomore forward Joe Lapira leads the team in points (15), goals (5) and assists (5) … juniors Greg Dalby and Ian Etherington were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while Lapira was a third team selection … junior midfielder Nate Norman is second on the squad with nine points on three goals and three assists … junior goalkeeper Chris Cahill has collected all 20 decisions for the Irish this season … he has registered seven solo shutouts and teamed with senior Justin Michaud for another … Notre Dame’s longest win streak of the year was two games, which occurred three times … the Irish’s longest unbeaten streak was three games this season … Notre Dame has not suffered consecutive losses all season … the Fighting Irish have outscored opponents 25-19 … 17 of Notre Dame’s 20 matches have been decided by one goal or less.

IRISH IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: This is Notre Dame’s fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and the ninth trip overall in program history … the Irish have a 3-7-1 record overall in the NCAA Championship … Notre Dame was the tournament’s fifth seed last year and earned a first round bye before falling to Ohio State, 2-1, at Alumni Field … the Irish’s last win in the NCAA Championship was a 4-1 decision against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the second round of the 2003 tournament … Notre Dame owns a 2-1-1 mark at home in the NCAAs.

FIRST ROUND HISTORY: Notre Dame is 2-4-0 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Championship … the Fighting Irish received a first round bye in both the 2003 and 2004 NCAA tournaments as a result of garnering the tournament’s fifth seed both years … the last first round game for the Irish was a 3-1 win over Akron in 2002 at Alumni Field … that was Notre Dame’s only first round home game in program history prior to this year.

A LOOK AT WESTERN ILLINOIS: The Leathernecks enter the tournament with a 6-9-4 record and are led by Mid-Con All-First Team selections, juniors Nowaf Jaman and Kosuke Kimura, along with freshman Luke Greenwell … Jaman leads the team in goals with nine and points with 22 on the season … Kimura has added one goal and is second on the team with five assists … Greenwell has helped solidify the backline, as the Leathernecks have a 1.65 goals against average as a team on the season … Mid-Con Tournament MVP, junior Nick Bohnenkamp is second on the team with five goals and leads the team with six assists … Bohnenkamp collected two of his six goals in the conference tournament … in goal, senior Dave Hanlon has a 1.11 goals against average in 11 matches … he has a 4-2-4 record and has only given up 12 goals in those 11 matches while saving 41 … ninth-year head coach Eric Johnson guided the Leathernecks to the Mid-Continent Conference title for the second consecutive year, earning them the automatic berth into the NCAA Championships … Western defeated Oral Roberts in the first round 4-3 in penalty kicks after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation … the Leathernecks then went on and defeated Oakland 4-3 in overtime to claim the Mid-Con title … Western and Notre Dame have one common opponent on the season in Bradley … the Braves defeated the Leathernecks 3-2 at MacKenzie Alumni Field on Sept. 25, while the Irish defeated Bradley 1-0 at Alumni Field on Sept. 28.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS THE LEATHERNECKS: Notre Dame and Western Illinois have met two previous times on the soccer field with the Irish winning both contests … the last meeting occurred at Notre Dame in 1996 with the Irish winning 6-0 … the first match-up between the two schools came during the 1993 campaign in Macomb, Ill., a 2-0 Irish victory.

IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark talks about his team and their first round match-up against Western Illinois …

On Western Illinois … “From what everyone tells me they are a very good team. We know they are a good team. They are also coming in strong and with some momentum after winning their conference tournament. They also have experience from being in the NCAA tournament last year. This won’t be an easy game and it’ll be similar to our game with Syracuse in the first round of the BIG EAST tournament.”

On the state of his team … “We’re ready to play and we’ve been waiting for this opportunity all year. This team has the talent and now we have the opportunity. What else could you ask for? We just have to seize this moment and run with it.”

“When you make the tournament it’s the initial seal on a good season. The trick now is to make it a great season. There is still work to be done.”

“We are a battle-hardened team. We have played some of the top seeds. We know we can play with the best teams in the country. Now we just have to do it.”

NEXT UP: The winner of the Notre Dame/Western Illinois game will travel to Bloomington, Ind. for a second round match-up versus Indiana, the two-time defending NCAA champion, on Tuesday, Nov. 22 … the Hoosiers are the third seed in this year’s tournament.

RECAPPING ST. JOHN’S (BIG EAST QUARTERFINALS): A goal by Garry Lewis in the 78th minute would prove to be the difference as No. 16 St. John’s defeated Notre Dame 1-0 in the quarterfinals the of BIG EAST Championship on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Belson Stadium … a scoreless first half did not come without some drama as St. John’s midfielder Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph was issued a red card with 35 seconds remaining in the half after elbowing Irish defender Ben Crouse in head as the two were fighting for a ball in the air … the penalty meant the Irish would play the remaining of the game one-man up on the Red Storm … St. John’s held a 7-3 advantage in shots during the first half … the match would remain without a goal until Lewis took a ball from Jeff Carroll, which was sent in by a Billy Hole free kick, and headed it into the back of the net to put the Red Storm on top … the Irish could not crack the scoring column during the final 12 minutes and would see their bid for a semifinal berth in the conference tournament fall short … junior goalkeeper Chris Cahill stopped five shots on the night for Notre Dame, while St. John’s Jason Landers collected two saves in the win … the Red Storm out-shot the Fighting Irish 15-10 for the match … sophomore midfielder Alex Yoshinaga had a team-high four shots for Notre Dame.

WINNING WAYS: The 2005 season marks the fifth straight winning season for Notre Dame all under the watch of head coach Bobby Clark … Clark has guided Notre Dame to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003.

PENALTY KICKS: Notre Dame has played a postseason match that has gone to penalty kicks in each of the past three seasons … the match against Syracuse in the first round of the BIG EAST tournament (Nov. 2) marked the first time that the Irish had ever came out victorious on penalty kicks … the Fighting Irish downed the Orange 4-2 in the shootout … in 2003, Notre Dame and Michigan played to a 1-1 tie in the third round of the NCAA tournament and the Wolverines would advance by winning the shootout, 4-3 … Notre Dame and Seton Hall locked up in a 0-0 tie in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament last season before the match went to a shootout and eventually sudden-death penalty kicks with the Pirates advancing 8-7.

BIG EAST BIDS: For the fifth straight year, the BIG EAST Conference has at least five teams in the field of 48-teams in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship … for the first time in conference history, the league landed seven teams in the championship field, besting its previous record of six teams in 2003 and 2001 … Connecticut, St. John’s, West Virginia, South Florida, Providence, Notre Dame and Seton Hall all made this year’s field … Connecticut was the only league team that garnered a seed as the Huskies are the eighth seed.

IRISH AGAINST THE NCAA FIELD: The Fighting Irish faced a total of nine teams that made this year’s field and they own a 4-5-1 mark against those squads, including two matches versus St. John’s … the Irish lost both matches to the Red Storm (2-1, 1-0) … Notre Dame defeated SMU (4-1), Providence (2-1 in double overtime), Seton Hall (4-0) and Bradley (1-0) … the Irish tied West Virginia (3-3) and lost to Connecticut (2-1), Indiana (3-0) and Wake Forest (1-0 in overtime).

DALBY NAMED A M.A.C. HERMANN TROPHY SEMIFINALIST: Junior midfielder/defender Greg Dalby has been tabbed as a semifinalist for the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in intercollegiate soccer … the trophy is presented annually to the top male and female Division I soccer player in the United States … Dalby becomes the third student-athlete in program history to be selected as a semifinalist for the award … last season the Irish boasted two semifinalists, defenders Jack Stewart and Kevin Goldthwaite … Notre Dame and UCLA are the only two schools to have semifinalists for both the men and women this season … the Fighting Irish had four members on the women’s list, Jen Buczkowski, Candace Chapman, Kerri Hanks and Katie Thorlakson.

BIG EAST HONORS: Juniors Greg Dalby and Ian Etherington were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while sophomore forward Joe Lapira was a third team selection … voting was conducted by the league’s 16 head coaches … this was the first selection for both Dalby and Etherington to the conference’s first team … last season, Dalby was a second team selection and Etherington was named to the third team … Dalby was one of just four unanimous selections to the squad … Dalby was also a unanimous selection to the 2005 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team … Etherington was named to that team as well.

STEPHENS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Notre Dame senior midfielder John Stephens has been named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic-All District men’s soccer team (District 5) … Stephens, a tri-captain for the Fighting Irish, has started 17 of 19 matches so far this season with one goal and three assists for five points … he carries a 3.857 cumulative grade-point average as an economics major in the College of Arts and Letters.

GOING FOR FOUR: Notre Dame’s two biggest scoring outputs of the season have both come against ranked opponents … the Fighting Irish put up four goals against No. 7 SMU (4-1) on Sept. 2 and No. 16 Seton Hall (4-0) on Oct. 29 … ironically, those were the first and last games of the regular season.

LEADING POINTS: Joe Lapira, a sophomore forward, leads the team in points (15), goals (5) and assists (5) … junior midfielder Nate Norman is second on the squad with nine points on three goals and three assists … junior forward Justin McGeeney has tallied four goals for a total of eight points … he led the team last year with 12 points as a result of five goals and two assists.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Notre Dame has totaled 25 goals on the year, with 11 players notching at least one tally … the latest member to the scoring club was junior defender Ryan Miller who recorded his first career goal in the 4-0 win over Seton Hall on Oct. 29 … 11 different individuals have also registered an assist … the Irish have 26 total assists.

FIRST TIME: Six Fighting Irish players have recorded their first collegiate goal this season … seniors John Stephens (SMU) and Ben Crouse (Connecticut), juniors Greg Dalby (SMU) and Ryan Miler (Seton Hall), sophomore Kurt Martin (Providence) and freshman Bright Dike (Bradley) have all netted their first tally in a Notre Dame uniform this season.

TWICE IS NICE: Joe Lapira’s two-goal performance versus Seton Hall was the first two-goal game of his collegiate career … the sophomore became the first Notre Dame player to tally two goals since current senior Tony Megna did the same versus Pittsburgh last season on Oct. 7.

NARROW MARGINS: Notre Dame has played 14 games this year that have been decided by one goal … the Irish own an 8-6 mark in those contests … earlier this season, the Fighting Irish played eight straight matches that were decided by one goal … the Fighting Irish went 5-3 in those games … a 3-3 double-overtime tie against West Virginia put a halt to the streak … the 14 one-goal games is the second most in program history for a single season … the Irish played 16 matches which were decided by one score during the 1996 campaign, including a stretch of 10 straight to close out the season … Notre Dame has also played three ties this season, making 17 of its 20 games being decided by one goal or less.

STRIKING EARLY: On the year, Notre Dame has five goals within the first ten minutes of action … Greg Dalby tallied a score in the second minute of the season-opener against SMU … Bright Dike scored in the sixth minute versus Bradley and Joe Lapira did the same in the following game versus West Virginia … Justin McGeeney netted a goal in the ninth minute versus Providence and Alex Yoshinaga tallied a goal in the fourth minute against Pittsburgh … the Irish are 4-0-1 in those matches, with the tie coming against West Virginia.

SHOOTING AWAY: The Fighting Irish have out-shot their opponents 308-247 on the year … Joe Lapira leads the team with 77 shots taken, while Ian Etherington ranks second on the squad with 37 shots … Notre Dame has out-shot its opponents on 14 occasions this season … the Irish are 9-2-3 in those contests.

CORNER ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame has taken 116 corner kicks so far this season, compared to 80 taken by Irish opponents.

CHALLENGING SLATE: Once again, the Fighting Irish have scheduled a very tough ledger for the 2005 season … six of the teams on Notre Dame’s slate were ranked in the NSCAA/adidas preseason poll (#1 Indiana, #5 St. John’s, #7 SMU, #10 Wake Forest, #19 Connecticut, #25 Saint Louis) … six Irish opponents are currently ranked in the top-25 of the NSCAA/adidas rankings (#4 Connecticut, #5 Indiana, #14 SMU, #18 St. John’s, #19 Wake Forest, #20 Seton Hall) … the Irish opened up the season by facing SMU and Wake Forest, who were ranked seventh and 10th, respectively, at the time and were coming off Sweet 16 appearances in the 2004 NCAA tournament … in all, the Irish faced nine teams that made the 2005 NCAA Championship.

IRISH VERSUS THE TOP: Notre Dame is 2-5-0 versus ranked opponents in the 2005 campaign … the Fighting Irish downed No. 7 SMU, 4-1, in the season-opener on Sept. 2 … the Irish fell to No. 10 Wake Forest, 1-0, in overtime two days later … Notre Dame lost 2-1 to No. 10 St. John’s on Sept. 16 … for the third time this season the Irish faced a team ranked tenth when they battled Connecticut on Oct. 8 … Notre Dame lost that match, 2-1 … the Fighting Irish were topped by No. 5 Indiana on Oct. 26, yet responded three days later with a 4-0 victory over No. 16 Seton Hall … Notre Dame fell to No. 16 St. John’s, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Nov. 5.

NOTRE DAME IN BIG EAST PLAY: Notre Dame owns an overall record of 61-45-11 (.568) all-time in BIG EAST regular-season play dating back to the 1995 campaign … the Irish have now posted five straight winning seasons within the conference, including this season’s 6-4-1 mark … Notre Dame won its first regular season BIG EAST title in 2004 with an 8-1-1 record … the Fighting Irish have captured BIG EAST tournament crowns in 1996 and 2003.

NO STREAKS: The Fighting Irish have not lost back-to-back games since the end of the 2001 season when they fell to No. 8 St. John’s, 1-0, in the BIG EAST semifinals and then lost to Maryland, 1-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament … the Fighting Irish are 5-0-1 following losses this season … Notre Dame will look to improve that mark against Western Illinois on Friday after losing to St. John’s in the BIG EAST quarterfinals.

IRISH WIN MIKE BERTICELLI MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT: For the second time in the history of the four-year old Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, the host Irish captured the title as they defeated Boston University 1-0 on Sept. 9 and Saint Louis 1-0 in double-overtime on Sunday, Sept. 11 … that marked the first time that Notre Dame won both games of the tournament … the Fighting Irish also won the event in 2003 … Indiana, the No. 1 team at the time, finished as runners-up of this year’s tournament after tying Saint Louis 1-1 on Friday and defeating Boston University 5-0 on Sunday … goalkeeper Chris Cahill, midfielder Nate Norman, forward Joe Lapira and defender Ryan Miller were all named to the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament All-Tournament Team for the Fighting Irish.

TAKING DOWN A TOP-10: Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over No. 7 SMU was the first time the Fighting Irish defeated a top-10 opponent since they took down No. 9 Boston College last October … the Irish have now claimed a victory against a top-10 team in six straight seasons … a 4-0 win over No. 6 Seton Hall in 2002 was the last four-goal output for the Irish versus a top-10 team prior to the win over the Mustangs.

IRISH IMPROVE MARK IN SEASON-OPENERS: After taking down SMU in the first match of the 2005 campaign, Notre Dame is now 19-7-3 all time in season-openers, including 4-0-1 in the Bobby Clark era … the Irish have not lost a season-opener since the 1994 campaign, a 1-0 loss at No. 15 Penn State … prior to the SMU match, the last time Notre Dame defeated a nationally-ranked team in a season-opener was in 1993 when the Irish knocked off No. 20 Rutgers 4-1 … the four-goal performance against SMU in the season-opener was the most goals scored in a lid-lifter since 2001, a 5-0 win versus Villanova.

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.

COLLEGE SOCCER NEWS WATCH LIST: Greg Dalby was 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 freshman 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.

NOTRE DAME TOTAL ACCESS ON CSTV: College Sports Television (CSTV) will feature a special monthly 30-minute original program called Total Access that concentrates solely on Notre Dame athletics … the show began airing on Oct. 9 and then on the first Sunday of every month for the rest of 2005 and returning on Jan. 8, 2006 … the first show featured a “Cribs”-style tour of the dorm room of Irish soccer players Ryan Miller, Ian Etherington, Kurt Martin and Andrew Benton.

STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS: To stay updated on all 26 varsity sports at Notre Dame you can log on to the official Notre Dame athletics web site at und.com or you can call the official Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000 … to access men’s soccer information on the hotline all you need to do is dial 4 from the main menu and then dial 1.