Aug. 12, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN'S SOCCER -- Exhibition Match
DATE: Aug. 13, 2017
TIME: 7 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Omaha, Nebraska (Caniglia Field - cap. 3,097)
LAST MEETING: No regular season meetings
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The opening game of the 2017 preseason is on tap this weekend for the University of Notre Dame men's soccer team. After kicking off fall training camp earlier this week, the Irish travel to the state of Nebraska to face Omaha on Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) at Caniglia Field.
A total of seven starters and 12 monogram winners are set to return to the fold for No. 10 Notre Dame (12-7-2 in 2016) this season, including reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Offensive Player of the Year Jon Gallagher. Gallagher, serving as one of three Notre Dame tri-captains in 2017, led all Irish players with 14 goals, seven assists and 35 points in 21 matches as a junior. Classmate Blake Townes (one goal, five assists) and junior Thomas Ueland (two goals, one assist) return as key offensive contributors from last year, along with sophomore Jack Casey (one goal, three assists).
Joining Gallagher as team captains are fifth-year senior defender Matt Habrowski and fifth-year senior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard. Anchoring the Notre Dame back line in front of Hubbard in 2016, Habrowski and the Irish defense aided in notching nine team clean sheets during the campaign. Hubbard posted a 0.78 goals-against average and a .767 save percentage as part of his 21 starts in goal.
Omaha (10-5-4) reached the final match of the 2016 Summit League Championship. Emmanuel Hamzat is the leading returning scorer for the Mavericks, connecting on six goals and two assists (14 points) in 18 matches last season. Elvir Ibisevic added four goals and three assists as part of his 11 points for Omaha in 2016. Goalkeeper Joseph Ghitis logged six total shutouts in 18 starts a season ago, finishing the year with 62 saves. Head coach Jason Mims, the only manager in program history, has compiled a 41-46-12 mark at Omaha dating back to 2011.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2017 Notre Dame men's soccer season are now on sale. Visit UND.com/buytickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket office 574-631-7356 for additional ticket information.
Get To Know The 2017 IrishNotre Dame checked in 10th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll that was unveiled on Aug. 3. The Irish, who finished 14th in the final poll at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign, debuted at No. 9 in the country at the start of last season.
In all 12 monogram winners, including seven regular starters, are back in the fold for Notre Dame in 2017. The Irish reached the NCAA Championship Round of 16 last fall on the strength of a 12-7-2 record.
Six freshmen have joined the Notre Dame program in advance of the new season. Defender Mitch MacDonald, midfielder Aiden McFadden, goalkeeper Keagan McLaughlin, midfielder Townsend Meyer, and forwards Simon Roennecke and Paul Rothrock enter their first seasons of collegiate eligibility in 2017.
ACC Teams Highly Touted To Open 2017A total of eight ACC teams found themselves slotted in the preseason United Soccer Coaches top 25 rankings. Notre Dame was one of six ACC squads included in the season's initial top 10, with three clubs in the top five. Joining the Irish in the United Soccer Coaches initial poll was No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 5 Clemson, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Louisville, No. 13 Virginia and No. 17 Virginia Tech.
Habrowski Leads Notre Dame Captain CorpsDefender Matt Habrowski returns for his second straight season as a Notre Dame tri-captain, previously serving in the role as a true senior alongside Evan Panken and Michael Shipp in 2016. Habrowski is joined by forward Jon Gallagher and goalkeeper Chris Hubbard as members of the new Irish brain trust.
Gallagher Included On Hermann Trophy Watch ListSenior tri-captain Jon Gallagher was among 31 men's soccer players included on the 2017 Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy Watch List that was released on Aug. 8. The MAC Hermann Trophy, presented to the best men's and women's collegiate soccer players in the country each season, has previously been won by 18 ACC men's soccer players.
Gallagher, one of 11 ACC representatives on the preseason watch list, is the latest Notre Dame player to earn national player of the year consideration either before or during a given season. Joseph Lapira claimed the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2006, and was recognized as an award finalist in 2007. Ryan Finley (2012) and Harrison Shipp (2013) are other past Irish finalists, with Jack Stewart (2004), Kevin Goldthwaite (2004), Greg Dalby (2005-06), Dillon Powers (2012) and Patrick Hodan (2014) earning semifinalist honors.
Remainder Of The Preseason ScheduleFollowing Sunday's contest at Omaha, Notre Dame travels to Des Moines, Iowa, to face Drake on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (ET). The lone Irish home match during the 2017 preseason, the annual Grassroot Soccer game at Alumni Stadium, will take place on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. against Valparaiso.
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.