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    Fighting Irish

    Nov. 12, 1997

    Defending Big East Tournament Champion Notre Dame Advances to '97 Championship Semifinals

    Irish Set to Face Defending National Champion St. John's in Semifinal Action

    Notre Dame, Ind. -- Defending BIG EAST tournament champion and fifth-seeded Notre Dame advanced to the semifinals of the 1997 BIG EAST Championship with a 2-0 quarterfinal win at fourth-seeded Seton Hall. Behind goals by sophomore Matt McNew (Arlington, Tex.) and junior Ben Bocklage (St. Louis, Mo.), and a strong defensive outing, the Irish posted their eighth shutout of the season and avenged an earlier 2-1 loss to the Pirates during the regular season. Notre Dame, 10-8-2 overall, will now face defending national champion and top-seeded St. John's (16-2-2) in the tournament semifinals at noon on Friday, November 14 at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on the campus of the University of Connecticut. In the other semifinal matchup, second-seeded Georgetown (14-5-0) will meet third-seeded Rutgers (12-6-2). The Irish finished tied for fifth with Villanova in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings after posting with a 5-5-1 in league action but earned the higher seed in the eight-team championship by virtue of its 1-0 victory over the Wildcats during the season. The Irish are the only lower seeded team to advance to this weekend's championship semifinals and final. Coach Mike Berticelli's squad is making its second consecutive appearance in the BIG EAST tournament semifinals. A year ago, the Irish won the tournament in just its second season as a member of the league. Notre Dame defeated sixth-seeded Georgetown (2-1), second-seeded Connecticut (2-1) and fourth-seeded Rutgers (1-0) to claim the '96 title and earn the Conference's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

    Week in Review: Seton Hall -- Notre Dame advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST championship with a 2-0 win at Seton Hall in a quarterfinal matchup. The Irish used goals in each half to defeat the Pirates. Matt McNew provided what proved to be the game-winning tally 17:26 into the contest when he headed in a Scott Wells (Phoenix, Ariz.) corner kick into the left side of the net. Wells sent the ball into the box and McNew headed it to the ground. The shot then deflected off a Seton Hall defender and rolled into the left side of the net. The teams battled through the mud and rain with each having few scoring opportunities. Ben Bocklage sealed the win with a 35-yard blast at the 76:29 mark after taking the ball at midfield. The ball went over the head of Pirate goalkeeper Derek Martin, deflected off the cross bar and into the goal. Seton Hall, which outshot the Irish 13-9, had one of its best chances on the day to score when Peter Scavo's shot hit the right post with eight minutes left. Irish goalkeeper Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) finished with six saves in the game, while Martin tallied five stops. The win avenged an earlier 2-1 loss the Irish suffered to the Pirates on October 24.

    Head Coach Mike Berticelli: Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli is in his eighth season along the Irish sidelines and 22nd as a collegiate coach. He has led Notre Dame to three of the school's four NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1995 and 1996). A year ago, his Irish squad won the school's first-ever NCAA tournament game when it defeated second-seeded UNC Greensboro in the first round. Berticelli has an 87-64-13 (.570) mark at Notre Dame and is 274-119-36 (.681) overall. In the last four seasons, his Irish teams have won three conference tournament titles. Under Berticelli, the Irish claimed the 1996 BIG EAST tournament crown in just its second year as a member of the league with consecutive wins over ranked opponents Connecticut and Rutgers. During the 1993 and 1994 campaigns, the Irish won back-to-back MCC tournament crowns and earned berths in the NCAA tournament. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent six seasons (1984-89) at Old Dominion where his teams compiled a 76-27-16 record for a .706 winning percentage. Berticelli coached for four years at UNC-Greensboro (1980-83) with his teams compiling a 70-9-5 record (.863) and winning two Division III national crowns in 1982 and 1983. His first head coaching stint was at Thomas College where he coached from (1976-79) with his teams posting a 41-19-2 mark during that four-year span. The Irish have won 10-plus games in five of his seven seasons at the Notre Dame helm. Notre Dame's 14 wins a year ago were the second most during Berticelli's tenure with the Irish. His 1993 squad finished the season with a 15-6 record.

    1997 BIG EAST Tournament Championship Schedule: Notre Dame is making its second consecutive appearance in the BIG EAST tournament semifinals after claiming its first-ever title in '96. The Irish earned the fifth seed in the tournament after finishing tied for fifth with Villanova in the BIG EAST regular season standings with a 5-5-1 mark.

    Quarterfinals Results (at campus sites of higher-seeded team)

    Saturday, November 8
        No. 1 St. John's def. No. 8 Boston College, 1-0
        No. 3 Rutgers def. No. 6 Villanova, 2-0
    Sunday, November 9
        No. 5 Notre Dame def. No. 4 Seton Hall, 2-0
    Monday, November 10
        No. 2 Georgetown def. No. 7 Connecticut, 2-0
    Semifinals and Championship (Joseph J. Morrone Stadium- Storrs, Conn)
    Friday, November 14
        No. 2 Georgetown vs. No. 3 Rutgers  10:00 a.m.
        No. 1 St. Johns vs. No. 5 Notre Dame  Noon
    Sunday, November 16
        Semifinal winners   Noon
    

    Series Record vs. Tournament Field:

    St. John's -- This will be the fourth time the two teams have met. Notre Dame trails 0-2-1 in the series. St. John's won this year's meeting 1-0 in Jamaica, N.Y. Two years ago, the Irish lost a 6-0 decision at St. John's, the first-ever meeting between the two teams. In '96, the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie at Notre Dame's Alumni Field.

    Georgetown -- Notre Dame's leads the series 4-1-1. The Hoyas beat the Irish for the first time as they earned a 2-1 overtime decision over the Irish at Notre Dame. It was the third straight time the game ended with a 2-1 final. During the '96 campaign, Notre Dame beat Georgetown in overtime in Washington, D.C. during the regular season and then defeated the Hoyas at Alumni Field in a BIG EAST quarterfinal matchup. All four games played between the two since the Irish joined the BIG EAST in '95 have been one-goal decisions.

    Rutgers -- The series is tied 3-3 after the Irish earned a 1-0 victory over the Scarlet Nights this season at Notre Dame. It marked the third consecutive 1-0 contest between the two schools. The Irish beat Rutgers 1-0 in the BIG EAST championship game last season after dropping a 1-0 decision during the regular season. Both games were played in Piscataway, N.J.

    1997 Game Recaps:

    St. John's -- Shane Mulholland provided the game-winning tally at the 65:32 mark as the Red Storm defeated Notre Dame 1-0 in Jamaica, N.Y. Mulholland scored on an 18-yard shot that went into right corner of the net past goakeeper Greg Velho. St. John's oustshot the Irish 15-3 in the contest. Georgetown -- Charles Beyer tallied the gamewinner with 33 second left in the first sudden death overtime to lift the Hoyas to a 2-1 victory, their first-ever over Notre Dame. Beyer's goal came at the 104:27 mark of the contest off a Jason Partenza assist Georgetown dominated the overtime period, outshooting the Irish 3-0. Both teams finished with 13 shots on goal, but thte Hoyas held a 10-4 advantage in corner kicks. After a scoreless first half, Georgetown's Jermey McKitrick put the Hoyas up 1-0 with a goal in the 57th minute of the contest. Two minutes later, Notre Dame tied the score when Ryan Turner scored from just outside the penalty box off assists from Wells and Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.). The Irish had several opportunities after that point, but could not capitilize. Rutgers -- Andrew Aris (Auckland, Nedw Zealand) scored the game' only goal 19:07 into the contest off assists from Bill Savarino (Orland Park, Ill.) and David Cutler (Seattle, Wash.). Notre Dame dominated the contest early on as Aris scored on a chip shot just inside the penalty box. Savarino fed the ball from the left side of the field just outside the box to Cutler who had moved to the right corner of the field. Cutler found Aris in the middle of the box and he lofted a shot past Scarlet Knight goalkeeper Jonathan Conway. Rutgers controlled the game fro the remaineder of the half, outshooting Notre Dame 7-2 and 11-7 for the contest. Velho recorded his seventh complete shutout of the year and made six stops.

    Irish Get Relief: With its victory over Seton Hall, the Irish enter their BIG EAST tournament semifinal matchup with St. John's riding a two-game win-streak. Notre Dame ended the regular season with a 3-1 victory over Boston College. The win over the Eagles ended a four-game slide for Irish. Prior to its matchup with the Eagles, Notre Dame had dropped six of eight contests, including five straight BIG EAST matches. After posting a 4-0-1 record in their first five BIG EAST outings, the Irish won just once in its final six league contest to finish with a 5-5-1 mark. All five losses were by a single goal, while two of those were decided in overtime. Notre Dame's 2-0 victory over Seton Hall was the largest margin against a BIG EAST team this season.

    Irish Look For Repeat: Notre Dame is aiming for its second straight BIG EAST tournament crown and the Irish may be peaking at the right time after just winning two of its seven final regular-season contests. In '96, Notre Dame was in a similar position as the Irish were 1-4 in their final five games down the stretch. Notre Dame then went on to win four straight -- three in the BIG EAST tournament and a first-ever NCAA tournament victory -- before losing to UNC Charlotte in the second round of the NCAAs.

    Four Losses Most At Home For Irish: Notre Dame finished 6-4 at home this season after Sunday's win over Boston College. It marked the fewest home wins for the Irish since the '93 campaign. The four home losses are the most since 1990 when the Irish began playing at Alumni Field. Two of the four losses this season have been in overtime -- Notre Dame also lost 3-2 to Buffalo in September. Notre Dame was 7-1-2 at home during the '96 campaign. Only one other time (1984 when they finished 2-4-2) has an Irish team lost four games at home.

    Home Sweet Home: Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past two-plus seasons. The Irish were 6-4 this season at home which includes four shutouts. Notre Dame had a 7-1-2 mark at home in '96 after posting an 8-3 record during the 1995 campaign. The Irish were 11-3-1 at Alumni Field in 1994. Berticelli's squad recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home. Notre Dame's two 1-0 wins over Villanova and Rutgers late September marked the 21st and 22nd shutouts for the Irish at Alumni Field in three-plus seasons.

    ND Hits Double: Notre Dame's victory over Seton Hall was the 10th win of the season for the Irish. Berticelli's teams have won 10-plus games in six of his eight campaigns. Notre Dame won 14 games in '96; the most victories for a Berticelli-coached team is 15 (in 1993).

    Turner Leads Irish In Scoring: Ryan Turner leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and five assists (27 points) in '97. He has scored two or more goals in three games this season -- Valparaiso, TCU and Western Michigan. In two-plus seasons, Turner has 20 goals and 16 assists (56 points).

    The Slimmest of Margin: Notre Dame has been involved in 11 games this season that have been decided by a single goal. The Irish are 4-7 in those contests. Five of the last seven games have been one-goal decisions. Five of the seven one-goal losses have been to BIG EAST teams. Notre Dame's four wins have come against Eastern Illinois, Villanova, Rutgers and TCU.

    LaRose Coming On Strong: Freshman Connor LaRose has earned starts in Notre Dame's last three contests versus Connecticut, Boston College and Seton Hall. He assisted on goals versus the Huskies and Eagles. Other than freshman Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.), who has played in all 20 games, LaRose has played in more contests (12) than any other rookie and has three assists.

    Wells Leads Irish in Assists: Senior forward Scott Wells leads the Irish with eight assists on the season. He is third on the team in scoring with two goals and eight assists (12 points).

    Savarino Second in Irish Scoring Column: Senior midfielder Bill Savarino is the team's second leading scorer thus far in 1997 with four goals and five assists (13 points). He is having the best season in his three-plus seasons with the Irish. During his career, he has scored nine goals and dished off 11 assists (29 points).

    Working Overtime: Notre Dame has played six overtime games this season and is 1-3-2 in those contests. Two of three losses have been at home to Buffalo and Georgetown, while the other loss came on the road at Connecticut. The win was a 4-3 victory at TCU and the two ties were at Pittsburgh and Northwestern.

    Tough Schedule: Notre Dame once again is playing a formidable schedule. Five opponents on the '97 slate are ranked in either one or both of the polls (Soccer America or NSCAA/Umbro) this week -- defending national champion St. John's, Indiana, SMU, Connecticut and Rutgers. Three of the four teams are ranked in the top 10 (# 1 Indiana, #2 St. John's and #4 SMU).

    Velho Tough in Goal: In 11 BIG EAST outings and 1040:51 minutes of action, junior goalkeeper Greg Velho has given up nine goals. He recorded the 21st shutout of his career and eighth of the season, in Notre Dame's 2-0 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday, the first since a 1-0 win versus Rutgers on September 28. In 20 games overall in '97, he has a 1.09 goals against average and .787 save percentage. Velho has played all 1893:57 minutes of the '97 campaign.

    Irish on the Internet: The official Notre Dame Athletic Department web site is available at www.und.com. All media guide information, press releases, results and gamenotes are available. Questions concerning the site can be directed to the Notre Dame Sports Information Office by calling (291) 631-7516.

    NSCAA/Umbro
    (Week of November 10)
                                                LW
    1.  Indiana (18-0-0)                        1
    2.  St. John's (16-2-2)                     2
    3.  Washington (14-2-2)                     3
    4.  SMU (15-2-0)                            4
    5.  UCLA (16-2-0)                           5
    6.  American (13-3-3)                       6
    7.  Duke (15-4-0)                           7
    8.  South Carolina (14-2-1)                 8
    9.  Virginia (12-3-3)                       9
    10. Dartmouth (9-2-4)                       11
    11. Maryland (13-4-1)                       12
    12. Southwest Missouri State (12-3-3)       14
    13. Marquette (12-4-3)                      T15
    15. Florida International (13-5-1)          18
    16. Gonzaga (14-4-0)                        19
    17. Rider (14-5-1)                          17
    18. James Madison (12-4-0)                  RV
    19. UNC (12-5-2)                            24
    20. Saint Louis (12-4-3)                    23
    21. Connecticut (11-7-1)                    21
    22. Rutgers (12-6-2)                        25
    23  Santa Clara (10-7-0)                    NR
    24. Clemson (9-5-3)                         13
    25. Bowling Green (16-5-0)                  NR
    
    SOCCER AMERICA
    (Week of November 10)
                                            LW
    1.  Indiana (18-0-0)                    1
    2.  UCLA (16-2-0)                       2
    3.  SMU (15-2-0)                        3
    4.  Washington (15-2-2)                 4
    5.  South Carolina (14-2-1)             8
    6.  Duke (15-4-0)                       6
    7.  St. John's (16-2-2)                 7
    8.  Virginia (12-3-3)                   8
    9.  American (13-3-3)                   10
    10. Creighton (13-4-1)                  12
    11. Maryland (13-4-1)                   13
    12. Southwest Missouri State (12-3-3)   16
    13. UNC Charlotte (12-5-2)              17
    14. Stanford (13-3-2)                   9
    15. Clemson (9-5-3)                     11
    16. Saint Louis (12-4-3)                18
    17. Gonzaga (14-4-0)                    19
    18. Fresno State (11-6-2)               NR
    19. Furman (14-4-0)                     NR
    20. Boston University (13-5-2)          NR
    
     1997 BIG EAST Standings
    (Through games of Nov. 9)
                        Overall      BIG EAST   
    1.  St. John's      16-2-2      9-1-1 (19)
    2.  Georgetown      14-5-0      9-2-0 (18)
    3.  Rutgers         12-6-2      7-2-2 (16)
    4.  Seton Hall      11-8-0      7-4-0 (14)
    5.  NOTRE DAME      10-8-2      5-5-1 (11)
        Villanova       6-9-5       4-4-3 (11)
    7.  Connecticut     11-7-2      5-6-0 (10)
    8.  Boston College  5-9-2       4-6-1 (9)
        Pittsburgh      10-5-4      3-5-3 (9)
    10. Syracuse        7-11-1      3-7-1 (7)
    11. West Virginia   7-13-0      3-8-0 (6)
    12. Providence      3-15-0      1-10-0 (2)
    (   ) number of points
    
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