May 6, 2010

Notre Dame, Ind. – Members of the Notre Dame men’s and women’s soccer families returned to campus on Apr. 23-25 to take part in the Notre Dame Soccer Alumni Weekend sponsored by the Monogram Club. Weekend festivities included the dedication of the new Alumni Stadium, alumni soccer games against the current Irish soccer team and the end of the year team banquets.

On Friday evening the weekend events got underway as the Irish men’s and women’s soccer teams wrapped up their spring campaigns with exhibition matches against the Mexico U-20 National Team.

The exhibition doubleheader kicked off with the women’s squad falling to the Mexican National Team by a score of 4-1. After the conclusion of the women’s game, the men’s squad took the field in front of a near-capacity crowd of 2,737 fans. The Irish got off to a quick start netting two goals in the first 11 minutes of action en route to defeating the Mexican U-20 National Team 2-1.

“It was a fabulous atmosphere,” said Notre Dame men’s head coach Bobby Clark. “It was a great game to watch. If you’re a soccer person, you’re not going to get much better than that. I was very, very happy with the team.”

After the exhibition games the soccer alumni gathered at Legends for a postgame reception.

The official dedication of Alumni Stadium took place Saturday morning inside the state-of-the-art facility. Over 150 people, including both the men’s and women’s soccer teams, coaching staffs, alumni and parents, attended the ceremony. Speakers at the event included University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. along with former Fighting Irish men’s soccer players Tom Crotty (`80) and Rob Snyder (`84), who were the lead benefactors for the stadium.

“I want to take a second to thank everyone who was involved in building this special stadium for us.” Notre Dame women’s head coach Randy Waldrum. “Tom (Crotty) and Rob (Snyder) there is nothing we can say today to thank you enough for what you have done for us. What you did for the Notre Dame soccer program is unheard of.”

“The only thing I was really insistent on during this whole project was this had to be known as Alumni Stadium because this is about the soccer alumni and current players,” said Snyder. “This is a special program and a special place and it needs to have a special facility where our current and future teams to continue to learn both on and off the field.”

Following the stadium dedication, many of the soccer alums joined their fellow Monogram winners on the lawn of the Jordan Hall of Science for the Monogram Club luncheon which was held prior to the Blue-Gold football game.

Men’s soccer alums had the opportunity to play on the field of the newly dedicated Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the men’s soccer alumni games. The first game matched soccer alums that recently graduated against members of the current Irish soccer team. After 90-minutes of action the current team walked away with a 3-1 victory. The second game saw soccer alumni from all generations competing in a friendly game amongst one another. Nearly 50 men’s soccer alums participated in games including Snyder, Crotty and two-time All-America goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (’05).

“It was really great to see so many former players out here playing at the new Alumni Stadium,” said assistant men’s soccer coach Chad Riley. “I think it says a lot about how special this new venue is not only for our current players but also for the guys who laid the groundwork for this to be possible.”

To conclude the weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams held their annual end of the year banquets on Saturday night. The men’s banquet was held in the brand new Club Naimoli, while the women’s team held theirs at McKenna Hall. During each banquet, the Monogram Club MVP award was presented to a student-athlete who has achieved distinction through his/her contributions to the success of the team.

Receiving the honor for the women was sophomore midfielder/forward Courtney Barg. Barg started in 25 of 26 games for the Irish as the team made its fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four.

On the men’s side, senior midfielder Michael Thomas received the MVP award. Sawyer presented the award to Michael’s parents since he currently is playing in Sweden. However, Thomas did express his thanks with a video message to the team and coaches.

“The banquet closed up our 2009-10 season perfectly,” added Clark. “Now it’s all behind us and we’re now moving onto 2010-11.”