July 11, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The 2014 slate has been set for the reigning national champion University of Notre Dame men's soccer team. The Fighting Irish have unveiled their 17-game regular-season schedule that has the squad facing nine teams that qualified for last season's NCAA Championship.
The challenging ledger features nine contests at Alumni Stadium, six true road matches and two neutral-site showdowns. Notre Dame has an eight-game Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with four matches taking place at home and four on the road. The Irish are entering their second season of ACC play after sharing the league's regular-season title with Maryland one year ago.
Prior to the regular season, the Irish will take to the pitch for three exhibition matches. Preseason contests at St. Louis (Aug. 16) and Bradley (Aug. 19) will be followed by a home exhibition game against Wisconsin on Aug. 25.
Notre Dame will open the regular season against two familiar foes at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind. The Fighting Irish will face former BIG EAST Conference rivals Marquette (Aug. 29) and Georgetown (Aug. 31) in their 12th straight appearance in the tournament that takes place over Labor Day Weekend. Both the Golden Eagles and Hoyas, who are coached by former Fighting Irish assistant Brian Wiese, advanced to the NCAA Championship Round of 16 last year.
Due to scheduling conflicts the Irish were unable to host the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament last season, but the event returns in 2014 with Dartmouth, Kentucky and Indiana paying a visit to Alumni Stadium. The first day (Sept. 5) will showcase Indiana playing Kentucky and Notre Dame meeting Dartmouth. It will be a homecoming for Dartmouth head coach Chad Riley, a former Irish player and assistant coach. The final day of the tournament (Sept. 7) has Indiana facing Dartmouth and the Fighting Irish closing things out against Kentucky. This will mark the 12th time Notre Dame has hosted the tournament that is named in honor of the program's former head coach who passed away suddenly in January of 2000.
"I've always tried to find the best schedule that I can find. If you do that then you have no problem getting your guys excited about a game," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. "We have three preseason games and 17 regular-season games and you want to make those as good of games as you possibly can."
Notre Dame begins its quest for a second straight ACC regular-season title when league play commences Sept. 13 at Syracuse. The Irish will then travel to Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 21 to face Virginia, the squad that handed Notre Dame its only loss of the entire 2013 campaign. The Cavaliers finished as a national semifinalist last season.
ACC play returns to Alumni Stadium Sept. 26 when North Carolina comes to town. That match begins a stretch that sees the Irish play five of six games at home. The squad will step away from league action to host VCU on Sept. 30. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Rams, who qualified for last season's NCAA tournament.
The month of October begins with a home date against league foe Boston College (Oct. 3) and a match at Michigan (Oct. 7). Notre Dame renews its rivalry with former BIG EAST member Louisville on Oct. 10 when the ACC newcomers travel to South Bend. Following a home match with Northwestern (Oct. 14), the Fighting Irish have road tilts against Duke (Oct. 17) and Indiana (Oct. 22).
The Irish return home to face ACC counterpart Virginia Tech (Oct. 25) and Michigan State (Oct. 29). The showdown with the Spartans will be a rematch of last season's NCAA quarterfinal clash that the Irish took 2-1 to advance to the College Cup for the first time in program history. Notre Dame concludes the regular season Nov. 1 with a conference tilt at Pittsburgh.
"We have a very challenging conference schedule and then we play many of the top teams from the Big Ten," Clark, who is entering his 14th season at Notre Dame, said. "We certainly have a target on our backs as well and I think the guys realize that. In many ways this will be a more difficult season, which means we have to be a better team. We actually have to be better than last year's team. Will we win a national championship? I don't know. We'll take one game at a time and that's something we did very well last year. When you play a schedule like ours, you must take it week-by-week and one game at a time."
Three of Notre Dame's regular-season matches at Alumni Stadium - Dartmouth (Sept. 5), Boston College (Oct. 3), Louisville (Oct. 10) - will take place the Friday night before a home Fighting Irish football game.
The ACC Championship will get underway Nov. 5 with the first round, while quarterfinal play is set for Nov. 9. Both rounds will take place on campus sites. The league semifinals and final will be held at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., on Nov. 14 and 16, respectively.
Following the conference tournament, the Fighting Irish will hope to see their name among the 48-team NCAA Championship field. Tournament play commences Nov. 20 and College Cup Weekend is scheduled for Dec. 12-14 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Fighting Irish went 17-1-6 (7-1-3 ACC) in 2013 and defeated Maryland, 2-1, in the national title game at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Notre Dame returns nine starters and 14 monogram winners from last season.
Tickets for the 2014 Fighting Irish men's soccer season are on sale through Notre Dame's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, which can be reached by phone (574-631-7356), in person through the ticket windows in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (located inside Gate 9) from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, or by going on-line to the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (UND.com/tickets).
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director