August 20, 1997
Notre Dame Men's Soccer Team Picked Third In Preseason Big East Poll
NOTRE DAME, Ind.-- The Notre Dame men's soccer team, defending BIG EAST tournament champions, has been chosen to finish third in the league's regular season race as voted on by the league 12 head coaches. A year ago, the Irish finished third in the final regular season standings and then went on to win its first-ever tournament crown.
Defending national champion St. John's is picked to finished first. Rutgers, who lost to the Irish in the tournament's championship game, has been chosen to finish second. Along with Notre Dame and St. John's, the Scarlet Knights were the third BIG EAST team to receive an NCAA bid.
In it second year as member of the BIG EAST Conference a year ago, the Irish had a 14-7-2 overall record and placed in the league's regular season standings with a 6-3-2 mark. The Irish won their first-ever NCAA tournament game in '96 as they defeated second-seeded UNC Greensboro, 1-0. Notre Dame lost in the second round to eventual NCAA semifinalist UNC Charlotte 1-0 in a contest that was decided in the last 24 seconds of regulation.
Rutgers also advanced to the second of the '96 tournament and marked the first time that three BIG EAST teams appeared in the round of 16.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli, beginning his eighth season with the Irish, has seven returning starters and 12 returning letterwinners. Forward Ryan Turner heads the list of returnees. The senior co-captain is the team's top returning scorer off of last year's squad as he scored five goals and dished off four assists (14 points).
Other top returnees include junior midfielder Matt Johnson and junior goalkeeper Greg Velho. Both started all 23 games a year ago and are two-year starters. Johnson has started 41 of 42 games he has played in during this career. Velho was one of the leading goalkeepers nationally in '96 as he registered a .76 goals against average, recorded 9.5 shutouts and allowed just 18 goals.
Notre Dame begins its regular season at Pittsburgh on Friday, August 29 at 7:15 p.m.