April 30, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's soccer team officially concluded another successful season when they recently held their annual awards banquet/alumni weekend. Senior midfielder Dillon Powers received the Monogram Club Team MVP award, which was voted on by his teammates, for the second straight season.
The Fighting Irish team and alumni had many reasons to celebrate after another solid campaign. The Irish posted a 17-4-1 record, won the program's third BIG EAST Championship title and were the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Championship for the first time ever. Notre Dame won its first seven matches of the season en route to 17 victories, which were the most for the program since 1988.
Powers (Plano, Texas/Plano Senior) received first team All-America accolades from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) this season in addition to being a second team Soccer America MVP. He started all 22 matches in the central midfield and posted career-high totals in goals (5), assists (9) and points (19). Powers tallied three game-winning goals and played 2,011 of a possible 2,044 minutes on the field.
Powers, Notre Dame's first two-time team MVP since Phil Murphy in 1997 and 1998, was one of 15 semifinalists for the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy. He earned first team all-BIG EAST honors and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Powers also was selected to the NSCAA Scholar All-America First Team. The Colorado Rapids selected Powers in the first round (11th overall selection) of the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft.
"Dillon is a two-time MVP, which is pretty neat," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. "He couldn't be at the banquet because he was playing for Colorado and he's been playing all 90 minutes pretty much every week with them. He did send a nice video thanking everyone."
Junior forward Harrison Shipp (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and senior defender Grant Van De Casteele (Plano, Texas/Frisco Centennial) both earned the Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award, which is presented annually to the top student(s) on the Fighting Irish squad. It was the second straight season that Shipp received the award.
The duo not only excelled in the classroom, but also on the field. Both Shipp and Van De Casteele played in every match during the 2012 campaign and were named to the all-BIG EAST third team. Shipp tallied six goals and six assists, while Van De Casteele anchored the Irish backline en route to nine shutouts. He also scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win at Indiana, the 2012 national champion. Van De Casteele was named the 2012-13 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"Over the last 12 months, both Grant and Harry had a 4.0 (GPA)," Clark said. "They are exceptional students and they also played in every game of the season. They were both very deserving of the award."
Senior midfielder/defender Eric Tilley (Albuquerque, N.M./Sandia) took home the Spirit Award, which is presented to an inspirational member of the Irish team.
"The Spirit Award is chosen by the players because they know who was the internal leader of the group that people don't always see. Eric was a big inspiration and a big part of last year's success," Clark said.
Matt Besler, Bright Dike and Justin Morrow all received the Mike Berticelli "Bert" Award. The award is named in honor of former Fighting Irish head coach Mike Berticelli, who passed away suddenly in 2000, and goes to the alumnus who has done the most to promote Notre Dame soccer in the past year. Besler, Dike and Morrow all earned international caps over the past few months.
Dike played in two matches with the Nigerian National Team. He scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Catalonia in January. Dike, whose parents were born in Nigeria, plays for the Portland Timbers in the MLS. He finished his second MLS season as one of the Timbers' leading scorers, recording five goals in 12 games over the final half of the 2012 campaign.
Besler and Morrow became the first Notre Dame alums to earn a cap with the United States Senior National Team when they started on the backline in a friendly versus Canada in January. Both were selected to the U.S. roster for World Cup qualifying contests against Costa Rica and Mexico. Besler played in the Mexico match, a 0-0 draw at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. He also was on the U.S. roster for a qualifying game at Honduras.
Besler, a Sporting Kansas City central defender, was voted the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year and Morrow was named a 2012 MLS All-Star. He was the starting left back for the all-star squad, which defeated Chelsea from the English Premier League, 3-2.
"It was a good year for all three of those guys (Besler, Dike, Morrow) and they all brought a lot of attention to the Notre Dame soccer program," Clark said.
Another special moment from the weekend occurred when a bench outside Alumni Stadium was dedicated to Rich Hunter, who was the first varsity men's soccer head coach at Notre Dame. Hunter led the Fighting Irish to a 128-32-8 record over seven seasons (1977-83). He and the Irish posted an NCAA record 26-game win streak, which spanned parts of the 1977 and 1978 seasons. Notre Dame won a program record 21 matches during the 1978 campaign.
"Getting something started takes an awful lot of effort and there's no question that Rich Hunter and the players that were around in that era did a fantastic job of getting the varsity program started," Clark said. "We had a fantastic turnout for the weekend from alumni from that era. Unfortunately, Rich was unable to make it due to a family bereavement, but he was very well recognized during the weekend."
Following the bench dedication, the alums in town were able to see the new theming in the Alumni Stadium players' lounge and then take to the pitch for some alumni matches.
The banquet/alumni weekend began with Notre Dame's annual match against Mexico. The Fighting Irish topped the Mexico Under-20 National Team, 3-2, in front of a packed house at Alumni Stadium.
"When we play Mexico, it's more than a game. I tend to think of it as an occasion," Clark said. "We had such a big crowd and it was such a beautiful night. This Mexican Under-20 team was very good. I thought we played our game as well as we possibly could have and things fell for us that night. It was a very, very entertaining game."
The Mexico match concluded Notre Dame's eight-game spring exhibition schedule. The Fighting Irish posted a 7-1-0 record during the spring campaign and used several lineup combinations throughout the spring to provide playing time for everyone on the roster.
Notre Dame Men's Soccer 2013 Spring Exhibition Season Results
Opponent Result (Notre Dame goal scorers)
Toronto FC (reserve team) W, 2-1 (Connor Miller, Harrison Shipp)
Michigan W, 1-0 (Vince Cicciarelli)
Oakland (Mich.) W, 2-1 (Harrison Shipp, Danny Lojek)
Western Michigan W, 1-0 (Andrew O'Malley)
Valparaiso W, 4-0 (Leon Brown, Max Lachowecki, Nick Besler, Alex Priede)
Indiana L, 3-2 (Patrick Hodan, Harrison Shipp)
Xavier W, 5-2 (Kyle Craft, Evan Panken 2, Alex Priede, Leon Brown)
Mexico U-20 W, 3-2 (Patrick Hodan, Harrison Shipp, Vince Cicciarelli)