Matt Besler earned both All-America and Academic All-America honors with the Irish.

Notre Dame Picked To Finish Second In BIG EAST Blue Division

Aug. 12, 2008

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The BIG EAST Conference released its preseason men’s soccer rankings on Tuesday and Notre Dame has been selected to finish second in the league’s Blue Division for the upcoming 2008 campaign. The Irish garnered 99 points in voting by the league’s head coaches, while Connecticut received 112 points. Notre Dame senior defender Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) was selected to the all-BIG EAST preseason team for the second straight season.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll was also released on Tuesday and Notre Dame is ranked third. Wake Forest tops the poll, while Connecticut is second.

The Fighting Irish posted a 14-5-5 record last season, including a 7-0-4 mark in conference play. Notre Dame was the only BIG EAST team to go undefeated in league action and the Irish tied Connecticut for a share of the Blue Division title. The Fighting Irish advanced to the finals of the BIG EAST Championship before falling to the Huskies, 2-0.

Notre Dame garnered the No. 10 seed and a first-round bye in the 2007 NCAA Championship. The Irish advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the second straight season after knocking off Oakland, 2-1, in the second round and then taking down No. 7 Santa Clara, 2-0, in the Round of 16. The Fighting Irish fell at eventual national champion Wake Forest, 1-0, in overtime during the quarterfinals.

In 2007, Besler copped second-team all-BIG EAST honors for the second year in a row. The team tri-captain helped solidify an Irish defense that posted 11 shutouts and registered a 0.83 goals-against average. Besler started all 24 matches as a central defender and tallied six points on two goals and two assists.

Connecticut garnered 14 first-place votes in the Blue Division, while Notre Dame received the other two. Providence and West Virginia were selected to finish third and fourth, respectively. South Florida was tapped to win the league’s Red Division with seven first-place votes. Louisville (4 first-place votes), St. John’s (3) and DePaul (2) followed the Bulls in the rankings. The league’s 16 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams, cast the votes for the BIG EAST preseason team and rankings.

Notre Dame opens the 2008 season against No. 12 Akron at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Friday, Aug. 29 in Bloomington, Ind. Game time is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (ET).

2008 BIG EAST Men's Soccer Preseason Poll                                 BIG                       2007Blue Division       Points      EAST      Overall         FinishConnecticut (14)    112     8-2-1     20-3-1          T-1stNotre Dame (2)       99          7-0-4     14-5-5          T-1stProvidence          70          5-4-2     9-8-2       4thWest Virginia       66          7-3-1     14-6-2          3rdSeton Hall          61          3-8-0     7-11-1          6thGeorgetown          59          5-5-1     7-11-1          5thMarquette               26          1-9-1     3-12-4          T-7thPittsburgh              19          1-9-1     3-13-2          T-7th
BIG 2007Red Division Points EAST Overall FinishUSF (7) 99 6-4-1 14-6-2 4thLouisville (4) 97 6-3-2 11-7-4 T-2ndSt. John's (3) 92 6-3-2 9-7-5 T-2ndDePaul (2) 63 7-4-0 12-8-0 1stRutgers 56 4-7-0 7-11-1 7thCincinnati 44 5-5-1 9-10-1 T-5thVillanova 34 5-5-1 10-9-1 T-5thSyracuse 27 3-8-2 6-8-4 8th
(-) - Indicates first place votes
2008 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors & Awards
BIG EAST Offensive Player of the YearO'Brian White, Sr., F, Connecticut
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the YearYohance Marshall, Sr., D, South Florida
BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the YearBrian Visser, Sr., DePaul
All-BIG EAST Preseason TeamMatt Besler, Notre Dame, Sr., DRyan Maduro, Providence, Sr., MFYohance Marshall, USF, Sr., DKevon Neaves, USF, Sr., MFAkeem Priestley, Connecticut, Sr., MFJordan Seabrook, USF, Sr., FRyan Soroka, St. John's, Jr., FToni Stahl, Connecticut, Jr., MFBrian Visser, DePaul, Sr., GK*O'Brian White, Connecticut, Sr., FHansen Woodruff, Syracuse, Jr., F
* - unanimous selection