Aug. 9, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As another fall camp begins the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team is ready to usher in the 2017 season, the 41st varsity campaign in program history. On the eve of the start of fall training, Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark officially announced on Wednesday that goalkeeper Chris Hubbard and forward Jon Gallagher will join defender Matt Habrowski as tri-captains for the No. 10 Irish (12-7-2 in 2016) this season.
“The guys get it right every time, if (the coaching staff) was asked to picks captains we would have come up with the same three players,” Clark said. “It is a great combination to have someone seeing things from the soccer side like Jon, someone who is great within the locker room like Chris, and then Matt who brings the experience of being in the role last year. They all get on well together, and as our link with the team that is important. My door is always open but it’s great to have that link through the captains. It’s not about the head coach, or any particular player, it’s about the team.
“Having talked to the captains fairly regularly over the summer, I know they are all very excited to make this a special year,” Clark added.
Habrowski returns as a Notre Dame tri-captain for the second straight season, after serving alongside Evan Panken and Michael Shipp in 2016. Habrowski has appeared in 48 games (47 starts) for the Irish dating back to 2014, and has scored two goals and added one assist for his five career points. He has been a part of the Irish back line for 19 team shutouts during his career.
“I’m very excited to return as a captain this year, it’s an honor to be selected again,” Habrowski said. “I am looking forward to applying what I learned last year to help guide this year’s team to success. Last fall, and even the spring, taught me so much about how to serve others and the importance of cultivating an atmosphere where every player is confident, engaged, and actively participating in accomplishing team goals and building a positive team culture.
“Having a year under my belt has better prepared me to deal with issues on and off the field when they arise, taught me how to effectively communicate, and most importantly instilled in me the importance of being a servant leader and putting the team first,” Habrowski added. “I’m excited to get the season underway and eventually prepare the next generation of leaders on the soccer team to lead the team to great heights.”
“Matt was one of the captains last year, and it’s great when you have somebody with that experience returning because I am sure there was a learning curve for him last year,” Clark said. “Matt is a smart lad and has that experience from last year, and while he may take the reins he has a great supporting cast. He is a good speaker and can communicate well to the group, but is also astute and is a good planner.”
Hubbard enters his third season as Notre Dame’s starting goalkeeper in his final year of eligibility as a graduate student. Hubbard has started the last 43 games in goal for Notre Dame dating back to the opening contest of 2015, and has posted a 23-11-8 mark with a 0.80 goals-against average and 17 clean sheets. A 2015 All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Academic Team and ACC Championship All-Tournament Team selection, Hubbard has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll each of the last two years.
“To be named captain is truly an honor,” Hubbard said. “It’s something I have always dreamed of since I started playing soccer. I really take a lot of pride in the work I have done to get to this point. The thing I truly appreciate most about being named captain is that I have the support and trust of my teammates to get the job done. I think I speak for everyone in the locker room when I say that I am very excited for the upcoming season.
“Matt, Jon and I have been talking all summer and the more we discuss ideas for the upcoming season, the more excited I get,” Hubbard said. “Our successful spring campaign really left the guys with a lot of optimism going into our summer workouts. With the amount of experience we have coming back and a strong incoming class, it’s shaping up to be a great year. I believe we have all the pieces to make this a very memorable and successful season.”
“Chris has been our starting goalkeeper for three years and is a great player, he is just so steady,” Clark said. “Chris is one of the people that everyone on a team universally likes, he has a good personality and gets on well with people. It’s great to have somebody that can do that.”
Gallagher looks to build upon a standout junior season that saw the Notre Dame striker earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year and College Soccer News All-America Second-Team accolades. Gallagher led all Irish players with 14 goals, seven assists and 35 points in 21 starts in 2016, finding a total of five game-winning goals. Gallagher, included on the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, enters his senior year a mere one point outside of the 20 leading scorers in Notre Dame history, tallying 26 goals and 13 assists (65 points) over his first 64 career games.
“I’ve learned from the people ahead of me, like the guys who were the captains (Nick Besler, Andrew O’Malley and Luke Mishu) when I was a freshman,” Gallagher said. “Coming in as a freshman you’re not going to have that big of a role but you still want to add something to the group. I haven’t changed that much on the field, I like to be loud and get the best out of my teammates, but for me personally it’s how I can lead by example. Whether it’s on or off the field, taking care of myself, working hard in training, hopefully that rubs off on the younger guys and they carry that culture for the years down the road.
“The lessons I’ve learned here from Bobby Clark and my teammates will hold with me forever, and I’m excited to be set up for what’s next,” Gallagher added.
“Jon has had a great three years, and he and Jeff Farina have been a great combination up top since freshman year,” Clark said. “Jon is a real soccer person, soccer is the thing that occupies his mind most of the time. He is truly a great soccer person.”
Notre Dame officially opens the 2017 regular season on Aug. 25 against San Diego as part of the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium. For tickets, please visit UND.com/buytickets.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men's soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.