June 20, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame has released its 2012 men’s soccer schedule. The Fighting Irish will open the regular season Aug. 25 against Duke at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish schedule features nine home dates, including an exhibition match against Xavier on Aug. 20. That contest will be Notre Dame’s annual game to benefit Grassroot Soccer (GRS), which is an international non-governmental organization that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities against the spread of HIV. GRS has a special connection to Notre Dame soccer as Dr. Tommy Clark, the eldest son of Irish head coach Bobby Clark, founded the organization. This will be the ninth season that Notre Dame has held a match to benefit GRS.
The Fighting Irish have an exhibition contest at Northern Illinois on Aug. 12 and they will play the Chivas Guadalajara under-21 team on Aug. 16 in Ft. Wayne, Ind., as part of the Shindigz National Soccer Festival.
“There should be a huge crowd in Ft. Wayne for our game versus Chivas Guadalajara,” says Bobby Clark. “It’ll be a huge challenge for us because Chivas is one of the best youth squads in Mexico. We start our season with a bang against Duke and I feel our three preseason games should definitely get us ready for that.”
Following the season opener against Duke, the Irish will travel to Bloomington, Ind., to take part in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. Notre Dame will play San Diego State (Aug. 31) and Clemson (Sept. 2).
The Fighting Irish will play host to the 11th annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament Sept. 7 and 9 at Alumni Stadium. Indiana and Akron will get things underway Sept. 7, while Notre Dame will take on Oregon State in the second match of the evening. Day two features Indiana against Oregon State and the Irish will square off with Akron.
The Irish have a limited history with their first four opponents of the season. Notre Dame and Duke have met just three times with the last encounter coming in 2008. It will be just the second-ever meeting with San Diego State. The two teams first squared off in 1987.
Notre Dame and Clemson have only played twice and the last showdown took place in the 2005 NCAA Championship Round of 16, a 1-0 Tigers’ victory. The only other meeting between the Irish and Oregon State occurred in 2004.
“Having Duke, San Diego State, Clemson and Oregon State on our schedule allows us to play teams from different parts of the country and they will provide very good competition for us,” states Clark. “Anyone familiar with soccer knows that Akron is very good. They were the national champions two years ago and having them here for the Berticelli Tournament should make for a great game.”
Notre Dame will welcome Michigan State to Alumni Stadium on Sept. 14 before travelling to Michigan on Sept. 16.
The Michigan contest will be the first of four straight road matches for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame opens BIG EAST play Sept. 22 at Louisville before a non-conference clash at Indiana (Sept. 26). Notre Dame returns to league play at Connecticut (Sept. 29).
The Irish return home for BIG EAST battles with Pittsburgh (Oct. 3) and Georgetown (Oct. 6) before stepping away from league play with a date at Northwestern (Oct. 9). Notre Dame’s last four regular-season games are all BIG EAST tilts beginning at Seton Hall (Oct. 13).
The final two home dates will come against Providence (Oct. 20) and Marquette (Oct. 24). The Providence match is slated for noon (ET), which precludes Notre Dame’s home football game versus BYU. The Fighting Irish will square off against the Golden Eagles for the second time in four days when they conclude the regular season at Marquette (Oct. 27).
“Our schedule is challenging because in addition to playing in the BIG EAST, we also play almost all the top teams from the Big Ten Conference,” adds Clark. “It’s just a fantastic schedule from top to bottom. I think you need a good schedule because, first of all, it’s important for your RPI. If you play good teams, you get a higher RPI, which becomes important for getting into the NCAA tournament. A tough schedule also prepares you to win a national championship, which is our goal.”
The 2012 BIG EAST Championship will get underway Oct. 31 with the first round, while the quarterfinals are slated for Nov. 3. The semifinals and final will be held Nov. 9 and 11 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The stadium is home to the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
Following the conference tournament, the Fighting Irish will hope to see their name among the 48-team NCAA Championship field. Tournament play begins Nov. 15 and College Cup Weekend is scheduled for Dec. 7 and 9 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Nine teams on Notre Dame’s 2012 schedule, including exhibition and regular-season matches, qualified for last season’s NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame went 9-5-4 last season, which included a 5-3-1 mark in BIG EAST play.
Tickets for the 2012 Notre Dame men’s soccer season will soon go on sale at Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, which can be reached by phone (574-631-7356), in person through the ticket windows in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (located inside Gate 9) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (UND.com/tickets).