Aug 20, 2013
#7 Notre Dame vs. Drake (exhibition)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame men's soccer team's last visit to Drake in 2006 resulted in a 1-0 exhibition victory and later that season the Fighting Irish advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history. The Irish hope to repeat history on both accounts and the first opportunity is tomorrow night when Notre Dame faces Drake at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines, Iowa.
The seventh-ranked Fighting Irish and Bulldogs will play two exhibition contests, with the first slated for approximately 5 p.m. (CT). That match will be 60 minutes in length, while the second affair is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) and will be a full 90 minutes.
"Drake is a good opponent and playing them will help us continue on our progression leading up to the regular season," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. "It's good that we came into camp fit, but we need to be game fit. We want to be sharp in the games.
"We'll play our younger players in the first match and it's always important to get a good look at them to see what we have. It would be nice if we could also get some of them in during the second half of the second match."
Notre Dame opened exhibition play Sunday at No. 6 Creighton. The Irish fell, 1-0, after surrendering a goal in the 87th minute. The two teams played a shortened second contest that resulted in a scoreless draw. Sunday's blanking against the Blue Jays is something the Irish aren't accustomed to after not being shutout all of last season (preseason included). The Irish have been training in Des Moines the past couple days and have spent time correcting mistakes from the Creighton match.
"We went over the Creighton game tape with the team and worked some of those things into practice," Clark said. "This morning we had a good practice. We worked on some offensive set pieces and our organization. Hopefully we can score some goals because we haven't been on the score sheet yet this season."
Notre Dame is 3-0 all-time against Drake in regular-season play. The last meeting was a 2-0 result during the 2010 Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium. The Irish also captured a 2-0 home victory over the Bulldogs in 1987. The first encounter was Notre Dame's 1978 regular-season finale, a 4-2 triumph at Drake. That victory was Notre Dame's 21st of the season, which established a program record that still stands today.
Last season, Drake went 6-11-4, including a 2-2-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs return eight starters from that squad. Senior midfielder Addison Eck, who tallied five goals and four assists last season, is the team's leading returning scorer. Senior goalkeeper Rich Gallagher is back after starting every match last season. He registered a 1.64 goals-against average and a .772 save percentage. Head coach Sean Holmes is entering his 16th season at the helm of the Bulldog program.
"I'm not as familiar with Drake since we haven't faced them since 2010," Clark said. "They should be a very well-organized team because Sean Holmes always has a well-organized team. It'll be another test for us on the road and hopefully it'll be a good game."
The Irish conclude exhibition play Monday against Ohio State at Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. (ET). That match will be Notre Dame's annual game to benefit Grassroot Soccer (GRS), which is an international non-governmental organization that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities against the spread of HIV. GRS has a special connection to Notre Dame soccer as Dr. Tommy Clark, the eldest son of Irish head coach Bobby Clark, founded the organization. This will be the 10th season that Notre Dame has held a match to benefit GRS. Admission to the game is a $1 donation to GRS.
The Fighting Irish will open regular-season play Aug. 30 against No. 9 UCLA at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind. Notre Dame will take on SMU Sept. 1 in the second day of the tournament.
-- Sean Carroll