Aug. 26, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 19/16 Notre Dame men's soccer team will take to the pitch versus Michigan in exhibition play on Sunday at the University of Michigan Soccer Field at 2:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. South Bend time). This will be the final exhibition match for both teams prior to the start of the 2005 regular season. The Irish will open up play versus No. 8/7 SMU at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Friday, Sept. 2. Notre Dame tied No. 7/8 New Mexico, 1-1, in preseason action on Monday, Aug. 22 at Alumni Field.
Sunday will provide a final opportunity for Notre Dame men's soccer head coach Bobby Clark to figure out some combinations before the 2005 campaign begins. The match versus New Mexico provided some opportunities for that and he is hoping to expand on what he saw against the Lobos.
"We want to try and maintain our rhythm," states Clark. "We saw glimpses of that in the second half versus New Mexico and we want to build on that."
Versus New Mexico, the Fighting Irish struggled in the opening half as the Lobos controlled the style of play. Matt Wootton put the visitors on the board in the 35th minute with a blast from the top of the box that beat Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./St. Francis DeSales).
The Irish knotted the score at one when junior midfielder Ryan Miller (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) tallied a goal as he redirected a Nate Norman (Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams) kick into the back of the net at the 56:47 mark. Cahill, a junior, and senior Justin Michaud (Austin, Texas/Stephens Episcopal) split time in goal and they each made three saves. Neither team notched a score during the final 33 minutes of regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods.
The Wolverines will open their portion of the exhibition slate tonight at Bowling Green. In 2004, Michigan tied its second best win total in program history, going 11-8-4 overall, and finished 1-4-1 in the Big Ten. After earning their second invitation to the NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines beat Akron 2-1 in the first round and suffered a second-round loss to the NCAA champion Indiana Hoosiers on a goal in the 87th minute.
Notre Dame defeated the Wolverines 3-0 last October at Alumni Field in a match that featured two top-25 teams. Michigan knocked the Irish out of the 2003 NCAA Championship during the round of 16. That was Notre Dame's first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 and the Wolverines advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a game that was deadlocked at one apiece.
"Michigan is always a very good team," says Clark. "The rivalry between Notre Dame and Michigan also adds spice to this game. Plus, it's on the road and that will be a good challenge for us. We just want to keep finding different combinations. A few things came to the surface last game and we would like to build on that. We would also like to get a look at a couple players who weren't able to get in last time."
To stay up to date on the 2005 Notre Dame men's soccer season along with all of the Fighting Irish varsity sports, please log on to und.com or call the official Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.