Aug. 30, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Chris Apple era begins at Notre Dame this weekend when the Irish open up the 2000 campaign, and their 24th season of varsity competition in Las Vegas, Nev., at the UNLV Fila/Snickers Rebel Classic. Under the first-year head coach, Notre Dame meets New Mexico on Fri., Sept. 1 at 9:00 p.m. (local time) and then is slated to play host UNLV on Sun., Sept. 3 at 12:00 p.m. (local time).
SCOUTING THE IRISH - Notre Dame returns eight starters from last season's 8-9-3 squad that finished under .500 for just the fourth time in the program's 23-year history. The 26-player Irish roster features 16 freshman or sophomores, including 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Erich Braun (Frankfurt, Germany) who led the team in scoring a year ago with nine goals and six assists. He was the first Notre Dame player to earn one of the league's player-of-the-year honors.
The most notable losses to graduation were starting goalkeeper Gerick Short, MVP of the team a year ago who played who played all but 35:30 of the 1999 campaign, second-leading scorer Andrew Aris, four-year starter defender Matt McNew, and forward Ryan Cox.
Braun will be joined on the forward line by senior Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.) and sophomore Rafael Garcia (San Diego, Calif.). Garcia played in all 20 contests as a rookie last season and had a goal and two assists, while McKnight, a midfielder his first three seasons, moves up to the forward line in order to take better advantage of his speed.
Notre Dame is more experienced in the midfield with the return of senior Dustin Pridmore (Dallas, Tex.). Pridmore looks to become more of a scorer for the Irish after netting three goals and dishing off an assist last season. Junior Matt Rosso (Churchville, Pa.) and sophomores Paul Rodriguez (San Antonio, Tex.) and Alan Lyskawa (Novi, Mich.) will by vying to earn starting berths in the lineup. Senior Griffin Howard (San Diego, Calif.), who missed the 1998 season because of injury and played in only two games in '99, has positioned himself for a starting job after an excellent preseason.
Defensively, the Irish are solid with returning starters Stephen Maio (Aurora, Ontario), Andreas Forstner (Gerlinden, Germany), Connor LaRose (Claremont, Calif.) and Justin Ratcliffe (Miami, Fla.).
Notre Dame will rely on two second-year goalies, Greg Tait (Fayetteville, N.Y.) and Cole Straub (Oakville, Ontario). Tait played in three contests and logged just 35:30 of playing time.
HEAD COACH CHRIS APPLE - Chris Apple enters his first season as head coach of the Irish. He was named head coach on March 3, 2000 after spending four seasons as an assistant on the Notre Dame sidelines. This is the second head-coaching stint for the 30-year-old Apple whose first experience as a head coach was at North Carolina Wesleyan from 1994-95. In two seasons, he compiled a 12-20-1 record. He is the second-youngest coach in the BIG EAST, four years older than Chaka Daley of Providence, another first-year coach in the league who is 26 years old.
SERIES RECORD VS. UPCOMING OPPONENTS - New Mexico: This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. UNLV: This will be the second meeting between the two teams. The only time the two school met was on September 5, 1993 in Bloomington, Ind. The Irish suffered a 1-0 setback in the contest.
RECAPPING THE EXHIBTION GAMES - Notre Dame played three exhibition games in the preseason and finished with a 2-1 record. Loyola (Ill.): Sophomore Justin Ratcliffe (Miami, Fla.) tallied the lone goal off a feed from freshman Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) at the 21:23 mark of the contest to lead the Irish to a 1-0 victory over the Ramblers. IPFW Soccer Showcase: Notre Dame finished up 1-1 at the IPFW Soccer Showcase in Fort Wayne, Ind., defeating Akron 4-3 and losing 2-0 to South Carolina. The win over the Zips occurred on the second day as the Irish used two goals in a 3:07 span to pull out the win.
After Akron took a 3-2 lead with 28 minutes remaining in the contest, Detter tallied an unassisted goal in the 67th minute, while another rookie, Devon Prescod (Marietta, Ga.) tallied the game-winning goal off a feed from Detter at the 69:22 mark. Freshman Kevin Richards (Warwick, Bermuda) opened up the scoring 1:45 into the contest with an unassisted goal. After the early score by the Irish, two teams went into halftime deadlocked at 1-1. Junior Matt Rosso (Churchville, Pa.) broke the tie 8:14 into the second half off an assist from Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.). Akron scored the next two goals, before Notre Dame's back-to-back scoring by Detter and Prescod. Sophomore Cole Straub (Oakville, Ontario) made seven saves as he played all 90 minutes of the contest.
THE GERMAN CONNECTION - Notre Dame's two German imports - defender Andreas Forstner and forward Erich Braun - certainly played significant roles in their rookie seasons. Forstner started all 18 contests for the Irish. In addition, he was twice named to the Dean's List and has a 3.549 grade point average following two semesters. Braun was one of six players to start all 20 games while garnering the BIG EAST's rookie of the year award. Prior to Forstner and Braun, only two other Germans have played soccer at Notre Dame.
THE OLD AND THE NEW - Head Coach Chris Apple named Mike Avery and Nino Berticelli to his coaching staff in the spring. Avery, who spent the last three years as head men's soccer coach at Cal State University San Bernardino, is no stranger to the South Bend/Michiana area. The 1990 Westmont College graduate was the head coach at Bethel College (in nearby Mishawaka, Ind.) from 1994-96 where his teams enjoyed tremendous success in compiling a 43-21-2 record. Berticelli is the oldest son of former Irish head coach Mike Berticelli. Nino was as goalkeeper on the Notre Dame soccer team and played for his father from 1996-98. He was a member of the '96 BIG EAST squad which won the BIG EAST tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
IRISH START SEASON AS ROAD WARRIORS - Notre Dame opens up the 2000 campaign by playing four of its first five games on the road. Following this weekend's UNLV Fila/Snickers Rebel Classic, Notre Dame plays its home opener on Wed., Sept. 6 at 7:00 p.m. against Bradley. Following that game, the Irish are on the road at Boston College on Sat., Sept. 9 for its BIG EAST opener and at Syracuse on Sat., Sept. 16. Those two matches will be followed by five consecutive home games.
CLOSE CALLS - Eight of Notre Dame's 20 games in 1999 were decided by a single goal, with seven of those contests ending in a 1-0 decision. The Irish were 4-2 in games which ended with a 1-0 final score and ended up 4-4 in games decided by a single goal.
GOING OVERTIME - Notre Dame has averaged nearly five overtime contests per season since 1996. The Irish went to overtime five times a year ago and were 0-2-3 in those matches, tying Pittsburgh and Seton Hall (1-1), and Valparaiso (2-2), while dropping decisions to Western Michigan (1-0) and Connecticut (2-1). During the 1998 campaign, the Irish were involved in six overtime contests, including a school-record five straight games.
HOME SWEET HOME - Notre Dame finished the '99 season with a 7-3-0 mark at home posting a 5-1-2 record at Alumni Field in '98. The Irish lost two one-goal decisions at home (to Western Michigan and Rutgers) and also suffered a 3-1 setback to Georgetown. Last season marked the 10th season for the Irish playing at Alumni Field where Notre Dame owns a 65-23-5 mark overall for .721 winning percentage.
IRONMEN - Six Irish players, including three freshmen, started all 20 games for the Irish in '99. Four of those players return this season - senior Connor LaRose and sophomores Erich Braun, Alan Lyskawa and Justin Ratcliffe.
LYSKAWA EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM - Alan Lyskawa was one of four freshmen honored by Notre Dame's Office of Academic Services for achieving the highest cumulative grade point averages among first-year student-athletes. Lyskawa, who is enrolled in the College of Engineering, earned Dean's List distinction both semesters and had a cumulative grade point average for the 1999-2000 school year.
MAKING THE GRADE - Notre Dame had 12 student-athletes from the men's soccer team named to the Dean's List following the 2000 spring semester. Nine of those players return this season - Andreas Forstner (So.), Griffin Howard (Sr.), Connor LaRose (Sr.), Alan Lyskawa (So.), Stephen Maio (Sr.), Reggie McKnight (Sr.), Dustin Pridmore (Sr.), Dan Storino (Sr.) and Tim Storino (Jr.).
PARADE ALL-AMERICANS - Notre Dame's highly-touted freshman class includes two Parade All-Americans, midfielder Justin Detter from White Lake, Mich., and Greg Martin, midfielder and defender from Plano, Texas. Detter, who spent last fall training and playing with the National Tam at the Bradenton Academy in Florida, was the first player from Holly High School to earn Parade All-America honors. Martin, a two-time honoree, is a three-year member of the national team program. He was a member of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup Team which lost in the semifinals of the 1999 Youth World Championships in New Zealand.
BRAUN ON PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM - Erich Braun, the 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, was tabbed for preseason all-conference honors. Also named to the list along with the sophomore forward were: Kevin Bacher (Syracuse, goalkeeper), Guy Abrahamson (Rutgers, midfielder), David Boutilier (Rutgers, defender), Jim Curtin (Villanova, defender), Chris Gbandi (Connecticut, defender), Kevin Jones (Providence, forward), Darin Lewis (Connecticut, midfielder/forward), Jeff Matteo (St. John's, midfielder), Craig Patton (West Virginia, forward), Brent Rahlm (Connecticut, midfielder), Greg Strohmann (Seton Hall, forward).