Aug. 24, 2012
#18 NOTRE DAME
Saturday, August 25 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium Notre Dame, Ind.
SETTING THE STAGE
Notre Dame will open its 36th season of varsity soccer Saturday when the Irish play host to Duke. Kickoff between the Fighting Irish and Blue Devils is slated for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish are ranked 18th in the Soccer America preseason poll, while the Blue Devils are 21st.
This will be the fourth meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Duke. The Blue Devils hold a 2-1 edge in the series. Notre Dame won the last encounter, 4-1, during the 2008 adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind.
A free live video broadcast of Saturday's match will be available on UND.com. Live stats via Gametracker also will be available on UND.com. In addition, fans can sign up for "Irish Alert" on UND.com to receive text message score updates.
Notre Dame is 21-10-4 all-time in season openers, including a 6-3-2 mark during the Bobby Clark era. The Irish played Indiana to a scoreless draw in last season's opener, which was played at Notre Dame's Alumni Stadium.
This is the sixth straight season that Notre Dame has opened the season against a ranked opponent. The Irish are 2-2-1 in the last five openers against ranked foes.
The Fighting Irish posted a 3-0-1 record during preseason play. Notre Dame won two matches at Northern Illinois (2-0, 3-0) and played the Chivas Guadalajara under-23 team to a 1-1 draw in Ft. Wayne, Ind. The Irish bested Xavier, 1-0, on Monday at Alumni Stadium. Senior forward Ryan Finley led the Irish with three goals during the exhibition campaign.
Notre Dame went 9-5-4 in 2011 and finished tied for fourth in the BIG EAST Blue Division with a 5-3-1 league mark. The Irish saw their season come to an end with a 1-0 setback to Villanova in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship.
The Fighting Irish return six starters and 14 letterwinners from last season.
Notre Dame welcomes back 25 of its 27 goals scored from last season. Finley returns in the attack after leading the Irish in both goals (7) and points (16) in 2011, while fellow senior Adam Mena had a team-best five assists.
Senior Will Walsh started all 18 matches in goal last season and notched a 0.83 goals-against average and a .795 save percentage with five shutouts.
A LOOK AT DUKE
Duke went 11-8-3 last season and finished tied for third in the ACC with a 4-3-1 league mark. The Blue Devils fell at New Mexico, 2-1 in overtime, in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Duke returns five starters from last season's squad, including first team All-ACC goalkeeper James Belshaw. The leading returning scorer from 2011 is Nick Palodichuk (So./M), who tallied seven goals and six assists.
Head coach John Kerr is in his fifth season at the helm of the Duke program.
IRISH AGAINST THE ACC
Saturday will be Notre Dame's first match versus an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent since a 1-1 draw against Wake Forest at the 2009 adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind.
The Fighting Irish are 12-17-1 against teams currently in the ACC.
Duke is one of two ACC opponents on Notre Dame's 2012 schedule. The Irish will face Clemson Sept. 2 at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.
FINLEY FAMILIAR WITH OPPONENT
Fighting Irish senior forward Ryan Finley spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at Duke before transferring to Notre Dame. He tallied 28 goals and eight assists in his two seasons with the Blue Devils. He was named the 2010 ACC Offensive Player of the Year in addition to earning first team All-America honors that season. Finley led the Irish in goals (7) and points (16) last season en route to copping second team all-BIG EAST accolades.
Midfielders Dillon Powers and Michael Rose will serve as Notre Dame team captains during the 2012 campaign. Powers, a senior, will be serving as captain for the second straight season, while Rose, a fifth-year senior, is a first-time captain.
BIG EAST ELITE
Irish seniors Ryan Finley (F) and Dillon Powers (M) were named to the 2012 Preseason All-BIG EAST Men's Soccer Team in a vote by the league's head coaches. The Fighting Irish duo was among 15 players named to the squad.
IRISH PICKED SECOND IN DIVISION
Notre Dame was picked to finish second in the BIG EAST Blue Division, while Connecticut was tabbed to win the division. Georgetown was selected to finish third followed in order by Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh. Connecticut received 13 first-place votes among the seven Blue Division squads, while Notre Dame and Georgetown both garnered one first-place nod. St. John's was selected to win the eight-team Red Division. The league's 15 head coaches were not permitted to vote for their own squads.
The Irish will face another challenging schedule this season as six of their opponents appear in the Soccer America preseason top-25 poll. Included in that group are the No. 1 (Connecticut) and No. 2 (Akron) teams. Notre Dame foes Indiana (#9), Louisville (#16), Northwestern (#17) and Duke (#21) also appear in the rankings. The Irish are ranked 18th in the poll.
FOLLOW THE IRISH ON UND.COM
All 2012 Notre Dame home matches that are not televised can be seen live on UND.com. The streaming broadcasts are free of charge. Log on to UND.com to stay up to date on the Fighting Irish men's soccer team throughout the 2012 campaign.