May 1, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame men's soccer team recently held its annual awards banquet and alumni weekend to celebrate the 2011 campaign. Junior midfielder Dillon Powers received the Monogram Club Team MVP award, which was voted on by his teammates.
Powers (Plano, Texas) started all 18 matches during the 2011 season and tallied six points on one goal and four assists, while anchoring the Irish midfield. The central midfielder earned second-team all-BIG EAST accolades in addition to garnering second-team all-Great Lakes Region honors. Powers, an Irish team captain, also was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America second team.
Left back Greg Klazura (Rockford, Ill.) took home the Spirit Award, which is presented to an inspirational member of the Irish team. Klazura, a fifth-year senior and team captain, started all 18 games and notched three assists in 2011. He was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-North/Central Region second team. Klazura currently plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS.
"I don't think there is anyone who has more spirit than Greg Klazura," commented Clark. "Greg didn't play one second during his freshman and sophomore years. He played sparingly during his junior year and then played every minute during his senior and fifth years and then got drafted into the MLS. That was just a story of someone who had tremendous determination and a tremendous attitude."
Senior midfielder Adam Mena (Holland, Mich.) and sophomore forward Harrison Shipp (Lake Forest, Ill.) both earned the Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award, which is presented annually to the top student(s) on the Fighting Irish squad. This was the second straight season that Mena received the award. Mena also was selected to the 2011 NSCAA Scholar All-North/Central Region second team.
Not only did Mena and Shipp excel in the classroom this past year, they also were key contributors for the Irish on the pitch. Mena registered a team-high five assists in addition to scoring three goals in 2011, while Shipp ranked second among all Fighting Irish players with 12 points on five goals and two assists.
"This was the first time we've had two people win the academic award," said Clark. "It's tough to give out one award when both Harry Shipp and Adam Mena had 4.0 GPAs during the fall term. They were both worthy winners."
Matt Besler, who played for the Irish from 2005-08, garnered the Mike Berticelli "Bert" Award. The award is named in honor of former Fighting Irish head coach Mike Berticelli, who suddenly passed away in 2000, and goes to the alumnus who has done the most to promote Notre Dame soccer in the past year. Besler copped the honor in part for becoming the first player in program history to be named a MLS All-Star. Besler, who plays for Sporting Kansas City, competed against Manchester United during last July's MLS All-Star game.
Besler also is very active in the Kanas City community. He currently is taking part in a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for the Man of the Year campaign.
"Playing in the MLS All-Star game was special for Matt," said Clark. "He is a key player for his Sporting Kansas City team and that is a great boost for our program. I believe the humanitarian work that he is doing with the various charities in Kansas City comes from the background he had here at Notre Dame, where service is expected from all students, especially student-athletes. It's nice to see he's carrying that on."
The banquet/alumni weekend began with the Fighting Irish taking on the Mexico Under-20 National Team. Mexico captured a 1-0 decision in front of a packed house at Alumni Stadium.
The Mexico match concluded Notre Dame's eight-game spring exhibition schedule. The Irish posted a 3-2-3 record during the spring campaign. Notre Dame used several lineup combinations throughout the spring to provide playing time for everyone on the roster.
"The spring always is a great time for us," commented Clark. "It's when we lay the main foundation for next fall. I'm pretty happy with how we played through all the games. We looked very good in the big games where we played our starters. What was also pleasing in the other games where we split time, the general ability of the whole squad is possibly the highest it's ever been and tactically they are as smart of a group that I've had. That's very pleasing especially since we lost some key players from last season."
The Fighting Irish finished the 2011 season with a 9-5-4 record, which included a 5-3-1 mark in BIG EAST play.
Notre Dame Men's Soccer 2012 Spring Exhibition Season Results
Opponent Result (Notre Dame goal scorers)