Senior forward Bright Dike was named the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year along with being a unanimous pick on the league's all-preseason squad.

Notre Dame Picked To Win BIG EAST Blue Division

Aug. 12, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team has been selected to win the 2009 BIG EAST Blue Division title according to a vote by the league’s head coaches. St. John’s was chosen to win the conference’s Red Division. Fighting Irish senior forward Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North) was tabbed as the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Notre Dame received 12 first-place votes among the Blue Division squads, while Connecticut garnered three and Georgetown had one vote. The league’s 16 head coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

The Fighting Irish are seeking their third straight Blue Division crown. Last season, Notre Dame posted a 12-7-2 mark, including a 7-2-2 record in conference play, en route to garnering the 12th seed for the NCAA Championship.

Notre Dame returns eight starters and 14 letterwinners from the 2008 squad. The Irish bring back 38 of 41 goals from last season, including Dike who led the BIG EAST in goals (12) and total points (29). The forward copped first team all-league and all-region honors in 2008. Dike was one of three unanimous choices on the conference’s preseason squad.

Joining Dike on the all-BIG EAST preseason squad is Irish senior midfielder Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas). Thomas garnered second-team all-league accolades last season as he deposited eight goals to go along with five assists. He was the BIG EAST’s leading midfield scorer. Thomas also earned second-team all-region honors last season.

St. John’s Joel Gustafsson was selected as the BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, while West Virginia’s Zach Johnson is tabbed as the BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year.

The Fighting Irish are tied for 12th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll, which was released on Tuesday. There are a total of five BIG EAST squads that appear in the rankings. St. John’s (5), South Florida (11) and Connecticut (T-12th) joined Notre Dame in the top dozen of the poll, while Louisville is 25th.

Notre Dame opens the 2009 campaign at home in its new state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium against Michigan on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

2009 BIG EAST Men's Soccer Preseason Poll                                     BIG        2008Blue Division       Points      EAST      Overall     FinishNotre Dame (12)          110       7-2-2      12-7-2       1stConnecticut (3)          98        6-3-2      11-5-6       2ndGeorgetown (1)           77        5-3-3      11-5-3       3rdWest Virginia        72        3-4-4       5-9-5       5thProvidence           60        5-5-1       9-7-3       4thSeton Hall           49        2-5-4       6-8-4       7thMarquette                24        1-8-2      3-10-4       8thPittsburgh               22        3-6-2       6-8-4       6th
BIG 2008Red Division Points EAST Overall FinishSt. John's (13) 109 8-1-2 19-3-3 1stUSF (1) 92 7-3-1 15-5-3 2ndLouisville (2) 91 5-5-1 11-8-2 4thDePaul 67 5-4-2 9-7-4 3rdRutgers 42 3-6-2 6-9-3 8thSyracuse 40 4-6-1 8-6-3 T-6thVillanova 36 4-5-2 7-10-2 5thCincinnati 35 4-6-1 7-10-2 T-6th(-) - Indicates first place votes
2009 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors & Awards
BIG EAST Offensive Player of the YearBright Dike, Notre Dame, Sr., F
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the YearJoel Gustafsson, St. John's, Sr., D
BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the YearZach Johnson, West Virginia, R-Jr., GK
All-BIG EAST Preseason TeamNelson Becerra, St. John's, Sr., MLen Coleman, Georgetown, Sr., D*Bright Dike, Notre Dame, Sr., F*Joel Gustafsson, St. John's, Sr., DZach Johnson, West Virginia, R-Jr., GKBrayan Martinez, Seton Hall, Jr., MColin Rolfe, Louisville, So., F*Toni Stahl, Connecticut, Sr., MMichael Thomas, Notre Dame, Sr., MSteffen Vroom, DePaul, Sr., FHansen Woodruff, Syracuse, Sr., M/F* - unanimous selection