Junior midfielder Michael Thomas has a career-high four goals this season. That total ranks him in a tie for first on the team.

Third-Ranked Irish Hit The Road For Two BIG EAST Showdowns This Weekend

Sept. 25, 2008

#3 Notre Dame (5-1-1) vs. Cincinnati (2-3-2)
Friday, Sept. 26 – 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Gettler Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio

#3 Notre Dame (5-1-1) vs. #16 Louisville (6-1-1)
Sunday, Sept. 28 – 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Cardinal Park – Louisville, Ky.
TV: CBS College Sports (Live)

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

The Notre Dame men’s soccer team will face their first true road tests of the season this weekend with BIG EAST matches at Cincinnati and Louisville. The third-ranked Irish will square off with the Bearcats on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7:00 p.m. (ET). A date with the 16th-ranked Cardinals will await the Fighting Irish on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 1:00 p.m. (ET). The Notre Dame-Louisville contest will be aired live on CBS College Sports.

HOW TO FOLLOW: Both matches this weekend can be followed via Gametracker on und.com … simply go to the men’s soccer page on und.com and click on `Schedule’ and select the game to follow … Sunday’s contest against Louisville will be aired live on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV) … this is the first and only regular-season game for the Irish that is scheduled to be televised … you also can follow the Fighting Irish by signing up for `Irish Alert’ on und.com to receive text message score updates.

ABOUT THE IRISH: Notre Dame (5-1-1, BE 2-0-1) is riding a six-game unbeaten streak … the Fighting Irish posted back-to-back shutouts in BIG EAST play last weekend … Notre Dame played No. 5 St. John’s to a scoreless draw on Sept. 19 before defeating Syracuse, 3-0, on Sept. 21 … the Irish are averaging 2.57 goals per game, while allowing 0.86 … junior midfielder Dave Donohue has team-high totals in points (12) and assists (4) … his four goals rank him in a tie for the team lead along with fellow junior midfielder Michael Thomas and senior forward Bright Dike … senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn has started all seven games … he carries a 0.84 goals-against average and a .818 save percentage with three shutouts … Notre Dame is ranked in the top 25 of the four major national polls … the Irish peak at No. 3 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll and they are fourth in the Soccer America rankings … Notre Dame is sixth according to both Soccer Times and College Soccer News … eight different players have scored a goal for Notre Dame this season … head coach Bobby Clark is in his eighth season with the Irish … he has a 99-39-21 (.689) record during his Notre Dame tenure.

MAUND RECEIVES CONFERENCE HONOR: Freshman central defender Aaron Maund was named the BIG EAST rookie of the week for the week of Sept. 15-21 … Maund helped the Irish register back-to-back shutouts in league play … he and the Irish played fifth-ranked St. John’s to a scoreless draw on Friday, Sept. 19 … the Notre Dame defense limited the St. John’s offense to just five shots on goal in 110 minutes to hand the Red Storm their first shutout of the season … Notre Dame held Syracuse, which entered the contest averaging 1.50 goals per game, without a score in 90 minutes of play on Sunday, Sept. 21 … for the season, Maund has played every possible minute on the field for the Irish.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS CINCINNATI: Friday will mark the sixth meeting between Notre Dame and Cincinnati … the Bearcats hold a 3-1-1 edge in the series … last year’s match was a 1-1 draw at Notre Dame … the Irish are 1-1-0 all-time at Cincinnati … the last meeting at Cincinnati went to the Bearcats, 2-1, during the 2006 season … Notre Dame’s lone win at Cincinnati was a 2-1 decision in 1980.

THE LAST TIME: Last season, Notre Dame and Cincinnati played to a 1-1 draw at Alumni Field … the Bearcats grabbed the lead in the 53rd minute on a goal from Brad Simpson … Matt Besler netted the equalizer for the Fighting Irish with just under 15 minutes left to play in regulation … Notre Dame’s Chris Cahill made three saves on the night, while Miguel Rosales had six saves for Cincinnati.

SCOUTING THE BEARCATS: Cincinnati enters Friday’s contest against Notre Dame with a 2-3-2 mark overall and a 0-1-1 record in the BIG EAST Red Division … the Bearcats are coming off a 2-1 setback at fourth-ranked Connecticut on Sept. 21 … Cincinnati is 0-1-1 at home this season … sophomore Branden Stelmak has team-high marks in goals (2) and total points (5) … Nick Weightmann, Brad Simpson and Matt Bahner all have one goal on the season … the Bearcats are averaging 0.71 goals per game, while surrendering 1.14 … sophomore Matt Williams has played every minute in goal and carries a .789 save percentage with four shutouts … Cincinnati went 9-10-1 last season and posted a 5-5-1 league record to finish fifth in the Red Division … the Bearcats returned five starters and 10 letter-winners from that squad … head coach Hylton Dayes is in his eighth season at Cincinnati.

SERIES HISTORY VERSUS LOUISVILLE: Notre Dame has won all seven previous encounters with Louisville, including last season’s 2-1 decision at Alumni Field … the Fighting Irish are 3-0 all-time at Louisville … Notre Dame captured a 2-0 victory during the last trip to Louisville, which came during the 2006 season … the Irish have a 20-4 scoring advantage in the series.

THE LAST TIME: Notre Dame topped Louisville, 2-1, last season at Alumni Field … Jeb Brovsky put the Irish on the board four minutes into the match and Joseph Lapira gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead in the 33rd minute … the Cardinals’ Marco Terminesi scored on a penalty kick in the 78th minute … senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill picked up the win by making four saves, while Louisville’s David Simolike had six stops in the loss.

SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Louisville will carry a 6-1-1 record overall and a 1-1-0 mark in the BIG EAST Red Division into its home tilt against Marquette on Friday … the Cardinals are coming off a 1-0 win at No. 17 Providence on Sept. 21 … Louisville is 3-0-1 at home this season … the Cardinals are averaging 1.62 goals per game, while allowing 0.75 per contest … senior Ryan McDonald and freshman Colin Rolfe both lead the team with three goals apiece … McDonald has a team-best seven points … J.T. Murray and Bryan Kanu both have two goals … freshman Andre Boudreaux has played every minute in goal and carries a .750 save percentage with three shutouts … last season, Louisville posted an 11-7-4 mark overall and was the runner-up in the Red Division with a 6-3-2 league mark … the Cardinals fell in the second round of the NCAA Championships to eventual national runner-up Ohio State, 1-0 … head coach Ken Lolla is in his third season at Louisville.

IRISH-CARDINAL CONNECTION: Notre Dame assistant coach BJ Craig, who is in his first season with the Irish, spent last year in the same capacity at Louisville.

NOTRE DAME IN BIG EAST PLAY: Notre Dame owns an overall record of 78-48-17 (.605) in BIG EAST regular-season play since joining the conference in 1995 … the Fighting Irish are currently riding a 14-game unbeaten streak within regular-season league play … Notre Dame is 9-0-5 in that stretch … the last conference loss was a 2-1 setback at West Virginia on Oct. 18, 2006 … the Irish have posted seven straight winning seasons within the conference, including last season’s 7-0-4 mark … Notre Dame tied Connecticut for the 2007 BIG EAST Blue Division title … that signified the second regular-season BIG EAST championship for the Fighting Irish, with the first coming in 2004 … the Fighting Irish captured BIG EAST tournament crowns in 1996 and 2003 … Notre Dame’s high-water mark for BIG EAST victories in a season is eight, which has been reached twice (2004 & 2006).

IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark shares his thoughts on the two BIG EAST contests that await the Fighting Irish this weekend and on his team’s play at this point of the season …

“This is without question are hardest weekend of the season so far. We have two BIG EAST games against two tough opponents. It’ll definitely be a challenge and I hope we’re up for it.”

“We are starting to come together and make good progress. There’s still a lot of soccer left to be played. We now have to try to have a good middle portion of the season and, of course, a strong finish. But it’s always good to have a good start to a season.”

UP NEXT: The Fighting Irish will continue their three-game road trip when they step away from conference play for a date at Michigan on Wednesday, Oct. 1 … game time against the Wolverines is slated for 7:00 p.m. (ET).

LAST WEEK: Notre Dame upped its unbeaten streak to six games with back-to-back shutouts in league play … the Fighting Irish held their opponents scoreless in 200 minutes of action … the Irish played fifth-ranked St. John’s to a 0-0 draw on Friday, Sept. 19 at Alumni Field … the Fighting Irish offense out shot the Red Storm 22-10 on the night … senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn matched a then career-high total with five saves against St. John’s … Quinn came back with a career-high eight saves in a 3-0 victory over previously undefeated Syracuse on Sept. 21 … the Irish used three different goal scorers in the win over the Orange … senior Bright Dike and junior Michael Thomas both scored their fourth goals of the season … junior Tamba Samba netted his first collegiate goal in the win over Syracuse … the Orange had only allowed one goal in their previous six games of the season … Syracuse entered the contest averaging 1.50 goals per game, yet were shutdown by the Irish defense.

IRISH OFFENSE AMONG NATION’S BEST: Notre Dame is averaging 2.57 goals per game, which ranks in a tie for fourth nationally … the average places the Irish first in the BIG EAST … Notre Dame has scored 18 goals so far this season … the Irish tallied 36 goals last season and averaged 1.43 goals per game.

DOMINATION FROM DONOHUE: Junior midfielder Dave Donohue notched a single-game career-best seven points (3g, 1a) in the 4-1 win over Marquette on Sept. 11 … it marked his first collegiate hat trick … that performance helped him garner Soccer America national player-of-the-week honors … Donohue leads the team in assists (4) and total points (12), while his four goals tie him for team-high honors … all of those numbers are career-high marks for a single season … earlier this season, he deposited the game-winning goal in the 89th minute in a 2-1 victory over Dartmouth.

THOMAS PROVIDING PRODUCTION: Junior midfielder Michael Thomas has notched a point in five of the seven games this season … he is tied for the team lead in goals with four … Thomas registered a single-game career-high three points on a goal and an assist in the win over Marquette on Sept. 11.

OFFENSIVE OUTBURST: The Fighting Irish have combined to score 18 goals during their five wins this season … Notre Dame has scored at least three goals in four games this season and the Irish have reached the four-goal plateau in three of their first seven games this season … Dave Donohue’s hat trick against Marquette was the first for an Irish player since Joseph Lapira’s four-goal effort in a 5-4 overtime win against Indiana on Sept. 3, 2006.

STRONG STARTS: The Irish have out scored their opponents 10-0 in the first half this season … Notre Dame owns an 8-6 scoring edge in the second half of play.

SUPER SUNDAYS: Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 12-1 in its three Sunday contests this season … the Fighting Irish topped Duke, 4-1, on Sunday, Aug. 31 at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic … Notre Dame bested South Florida, 5-0, on Sunday, Sept. 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament … the Fighting Irish defeated Syracuse, 3-0, on Sunday, Sept. 21 … the Irish will hope that production continues when they face Louisville this Sunday.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Notre Dame used four different goal scorers in a 4-1 win over Duke on Aug. 31 … the Irish had five players notch a goal in a 5-0 triumph of South Florida on Sept. 7 … Notre Dame used three different goal scorers in a 3-0 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 21 … the Irish have received at least one goal from eight different players this season … a total of 10 players have tallied at least one point on the year.

STREAKING: Since a season-opening loss, Notre Dame is riding a six-game unbeaten streak … the Irish are 5-0-1 in that stretch … Notre Dame saw its four-game win streak come to an end in a 0-0 tie with St. John’s on Sept. 19 … that was the longest such stretch for the Irish since a seven-game win streak in 2006.

TAKING DOWN A TOP-10: Notre Dame has defeated a top-10 team in each of the past nine seasons, including the win over fifth-ranked South Florida (Sept. 7) this season … the Irish downed two top-10 squads last season … Notre Dame defeated top-ranked UCLA, 2-1 in overtime, in the ’07 season opener and later toped No. 3 Santa Clara, 2-0, in the third round of the NCAA Championships.

IRISH VS. RANKED FOES: Notre Dame is 1-1-1 against teams ranked at the time of the meeting so far this season … the Irish defeated South Florida, 5-0, on Sep. 7 when the Bulls were ranked fifth … Notre Dame played fifth-ranked St. John’s to a scoreless draw on Sept. 19 … the Irish fell to No. 12 Akron, 3-0, in the season opener on Aug. 29.

TOUGH SLATE: The Irish are facing another challenging schedule this season … there are nine teams ranked in the most recent NSCAA top-25 poll that appear on Notre Dame’s 2008 slate … St. John’s (4), Connecticut (5) and Akron (9) are in the top 10, while Indiana (14), Dartmouth (18), South Florida (19), Louisville (20), Providence (22) and Georgetown (24) also appear in the rankings.

NO LOSING STREAKS: Notre Dame has not lost back-to-back regular-season games since the beginning of the 2001 season when they fell to No. 5 Furman, 3-2, in double-overtime and then lost to No. 16 Clemson, 4-0 … both of those matches occurred at the Umbro/Spinx Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C. … Notre Dame followed up this season’s only loss, a 3-0 setback against Akron, with a 4-1 win over Duke.

BESLER A LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS CANDIDATE: Senior defender Matt Besler is one of 30 national candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the men’s soccer division … the award is presented annually to an NCAA Division I men’s senior soccer player who excels both on and off the field … candidates were selected based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete … a national media committee will select 10 finalists in October.

BESLER TABBED AS A PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Matt Besler, a senior defender, has been named a second-team preseason All-American by Soccer America and College Soccer News … these are the first such national accolades for the team tri-captain … as a junior, Besler was named an NSCAA Scholar All-American in addition to taking home second-team all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive season … Besler has played in 76 games, including 59 starts, during his Notre Dame career … he has tallied 14 points on four goals and six assists.

BIG EAST ACCOLADES FOR BESLER: Senior defender Matt Besler was named to the 2008 BIG EAST All-Preseason Team … this marked the second straight season that he has been named to the all-league preseason squad … Besler has been a second-team all-BIG EAST pick the last two seasons.

NOTRE DAME PICKED SECOND IN BLUE DIVISION: Notre Dame was selected to finish second in the BIG EAST Blue Division for the 2008 season … the Irish garnered 99 points in voting by the league’s head coaches, while Connecticut received 112 points … Connecticut totaled 14 first-place votes in the Blue Division, while Notre Dame had two … South Florida was tabbed to win the league’s Red Division and Louisville was picked to finish second.

COLLEGE SOCCER NEWS WATCH LISTS: Three Notre Dame freshmen were named to the College Soccer News `100 freshmen to keep an eye on’ list for the 2008 season … (M/F) Brendan King, (M/F) Michael Rose and (GK) Will Walsh were selected to the list and are 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 12th nationally by College Soccer News … (M/F) Brendan King, (M/D) Aaron Maund, (D) Sean McGrath, (M) Adam Mena, (M/F) Michael Rose, (M/D) Chris Sutton and (GK) Will Walsh make up the talented crop of Fighting Irish rookies.

IRISH NAME TRI-CAPTAINS: Fifth-year senior Alex Yoshinaga will serve as a team tri-captain for the second straight season … senior defender Matt Besler will also be a tri-captain for the second time and junior midfielder Michael Thomas is the third captain for Notre Dame … he is a first-time captain.

RECAPPING `07: In 2007, Notre Dame posted a 14-5-5 record and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships for the second straight season … the Irish fell at eventual national champion Wake Forest, 1-0, in overtime during the quarterfinals … the Fighting Irish won a share of the 2007 BIG EAST Blue Division title … Notre Dame tied Connecticut in points, but the Irish were the only team to go undefeated in league play as they posted a 7-0-4 mark … the Fighting Irish averaged 1.43 goals per game last season, while surrendering just 0.83 … the Irish peaked at a program-best No. 2 in the national rankings on Sept. 24 … departed seniors Joseph Lapira (F) and Ryan Miller (M/D) both copped All-America honors for the Irish in 2007 … Lapira led the Irish in both goals (9) and points (28) for the third straight season … he also had a team-high 10 assists in ’07.

ALUMNI FIELD FAREWELL: The 2008 campaign will mark the final season for the Fighting Irish at Alumni Field, which has been home to the Notre Dame men’s soccer team since 1990 … the Irish will begin play in a new $5.7 million state-of-the-art facility starting in 2009 … in 18-plus seasons at Alumni Field, the Irish have won 74 percent of their contests by posting a 124-38-18 home record.

A NEW PITCH: The Notre Dame men’s and women’s soccer teams will begin play in a new $5.7 million state-of-the-art facility starting in 2009 … plans for the stadium include a lighted facility that will feature a natural grass field, locker rooms, restrooms, concession areas and 2,000 seats … the stadium will reside just east of the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus … the lead benefactors for the facility are former Irish men’s soccer players Tom Crotty and Rob Snyder.

PARKING CHANGES: Due to ongoing construction within the Notre Dame Athletics Quad, parking for Irish soccer games this year is limited to the Eck Baseball Stadium and Joyce Center lots … fans are asked to walk around the south end of Eck Stadium, then proceed north between the stadium’s right-field wall and the soccer practice field before entering at the south end of Alumni Field.

SIGN UP FOR IRISH ALERT TEXT MESSAGE SERVICE: Go to und.com and sign up for Irish ALERT, a text messaging service designed to give fans up-to-the-minute game updates for all 26 varsity sports at Notre Dame … men’s soccer fans can sign up to receive scores after each half of every game.