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    #11 Men's Soccer Faces Tough Test In BIG EAST Home Opener Against #6 Seton Hall

    FIGHTING IRISH Rafael Garcia has been a sparkplug for Notre Dame this season with an goal and an assist.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Rafael Garcia has been a sparkplug for Notre Dame this season with an goal and an assist.
    FIGHTING IRISH

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    Sept. 5, 2002

    Notre Dame, Ind. -

    THE SETON HALL GAME - Notre Dame plays host to BIG EAST rival Seton Hall in the home opener at Alumni Field on Sat., Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The Irish enter the game ranked 11th in the NSCAA/adidas ranking and 22nd in the Soccer America poll, while the Pirates rank sixth and 21st, respectively, in both polls. Coach Bobby Clark's squad heads into the contest with a 1-0-1 record after a 3-2 win Southwest Missouri State and a 1-1 double overtime tie with 19th ranked Creighton. Seton Hall is off to a 2-0 start after a 3-2 victory against fifth-ranked Connecticut and 5-0 win over Manhattan.

    SCOUTING THE IRISH - Notre Dame is 1-0-1 after its two games at the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb., in the opening two games of the 2002 campaign. Senior forward Erich Braun (Frankfurt, Germany) had two goals on the weekend, both coming against Southwest Missouri State. Senior forward Rafael Garcia (Palmdale, Calif.) registered a goal and an assist in the tournament, while Greg Martin (Plano, Texas) tallied his first goal of the season in the season-opening win over the Bears. Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) played all 200 minutes in goal and allowed three goals and made six saves for a 1.35 goals against average and .667 save percentage.

    SCOUTING THE PIRATES - Seton Hall opened up its season with victories at home against defending BIG EAST regular-season champion, Connecticut, and Manhattan. Senior midfielder Vincent Scerbo lead the Pirates with a goal and four assists (four points), while senior forward Phil Swenda and junior midfielder Luke Vercellone each have scored two goals. The Pirates rallied for three goals in the second-half of their win against Connecticut. The Huskies led 2-0 at halftime, but Seton Hall scored two goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half and then tallied the game-winning score (scored by Swenda) with 1:05 remaining in regulation.

    RECAPPING THE DIADORA CHALLENGE - Notre Dame finished 1-0-1 at the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb., and won the tournament based on the tiebreaker criteria of goals scored. Southwest Missouri State: Notre Dame posted a 3-2 victory over the Bears in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Erich Braun scored two goals for the #23 Irish, netting the first and third scores of the contest. Braun opened up the scoring 17 seconds into the contest and then tallied the game-winning goal on a penalty kick at the 68:28 mark. His first goal was assisted by Rafael Garcia and Kevin Goldthwaite (Sacramento, Calif.). Kai Harris, who scored both of Southwest Missouri State's goals, tied the game 9:46 into the contest. Greg Martin put the Irish back on top 2-1 12:29 into the second half off an assist from Chad Riley (Houston, Texas) before Harris' second goal of the game knotted the contest at 2-2. Chris Sawyer made three saves in goal while playing all 90 minutes of the contest. Creighton: The Irish battled the 19th-ranked Blue Jays to a 1-1 double overtime tie in the second game of the Diadora Challenge. The game was delayed 30 minutes by lightening in the first half. Rafael Garcia scored Notre Dame's lone goal of the contest on a header that was assisted by Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) 7:12 into the contest. Damien Westfield tied the game at the 55:53 mark. Sawyer played all 110 minutes and made three saves.

    DIADORA CHALLENGE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM - Notre Dame had four players named to the all-tournament team at the Diadora Challenge - Erich Braun, Greg Martin, Jack Stewart (Torrance, Calif.) and Luke Boughen (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). In addition, Braun was selected as the tournament's MVP.

    HEAD COACH BOBBY CLARK - Bobby Clark is in his second season at Notre Dame after being named the fifth head coach in the program's history on Jan., 19, 2001. In his 16th season as a collegiate coach, Clark has an overall record of 166-70-26 for an overall winning percentage of .683 and 13-7-1 (.643). Heading into the season, he ranked 16th all-time among active Division I coaches in terms of winning percentage. Last season, he guided the Irish to a 12-7 mark and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent five seasons guiding the Stanford Cardinal to a 71-21-12 mark and .740 winning percentage from 1996-2000. Clark also was head coach at Dartmouth from 1985-93 where he led the Big Green to an 82-242-13 record (.646). Seven of Clark's teams have advanced to NCAA tournament play with his '98 Stanford squad finishing as the NCAA runnerup that season. In between his coaching stints at Dartmouth and Stanford, he was head coach of the New Zealand National Team (1994-95).

    CLARK LEADS THREE DIFFERENT TEAMS INTO NCAAs - As a head coach, Bobby Clark is certainly NCAA tournament tested. With Notre Dame's appearance in the 2001 championship, he has now guided three different schools to the NCAA postseason. At Dartmouth, he led the Big Green to two appearances in nine years, while his Cardinal teams at Stanford earned four berths in the five seasons he spent on Palo Alto, Calif., campus. Clark is the first Notre Dame coach to lead the Irish to the NCAAs in his first season.

    SERIES RECORD VS. SETON HALL - Notre Dame leads the series 5-4-1, but have not beaten the Pirates since a 2-0 victory on Oct. 18, 1998 at Alumni Field. The Irish are 0-2-1 against Seton Hall in their last three meetings and has scored just one goal. The Pirates have defeated Notre Dame 1-0 each of the last two seasons. Seton Hall is 1-2 in its three visits to Alumni Field.

    THE CAPTAINS - Seniors Erich Braun and Justin Ratcliffe and junior Greg Martin will serve as captains for the 2002 men's soccer team. Braun and Ratcliffe will be serving as captains for the first time in their career, while Martin has been selected as one of the Irish leaders for the second consecutive year. In 2001, Martin was the first sophomore in the 25-year history of the program to serve as a captain and becomes just the 10th player ever to serve as a two-time captain.

    BRAUN MOVING UP THE CHARTS - Erich Braun's two goals against Southwest Missouri St. marked the fifth multiple-goal game of his career. He has moved to 13th on the all-time career goals scored list with 27 goals, while his 66 points are good for 15th on the career points list.

    IRISH MAINSTAYS - Four Irish veterans have started better than 89.0 percent of Notre Dame's games during their careers: Erich Braun (Sr.) - 52 of 54 (.963); Justin Ratcliffe (Sr.) - 51 of 57 (.895); Justin Detter (Jr.) - 37 of 38 (.974); and Chad Riley (Jr.) - 35 of 38 (.921).

    QUICK FLICKS - Notre Dame wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard in its first two games. Erich Braun tallied the season's first goal 17 seconds into the contest in the season opener against Southwest Missouri State, while Rafael Garcia put in the Irish's lone goal versus Creighton at the 7:12 mark.

    GETTING HIS STARTS - Freshman Dale Rellas (Plano, Texas) was in the starting lineup for Notre Dame's first two games. He was the only Irish rookie to see action against Southwest Missouri State. Jon Mark Thompson (Cape Girardeau Central) was the only other first-year player to see action during the past weekend as he came off the bench in the double overtime tie with Creighton.

    PLAYING THE BEST - The '02 men's soccer schedule features nine teams that advanced to NCAA tournament play a year ago. Those teams featured on the 18-game slate include: Akron, Boston College, Connecticut, Creighton, Furman, Michigan State, Rutgers, St. John's and Seton Hall.

    IRISH TABBED THIRD IN BIG EAST PRESEASON POLL - The Notre Dame men's soccer team has been chosen to finish third in the Preseason BIG EAST Coaches Poll. Connecticut, the 2001 regular-season champion, has been chosen first by a vote of the league's head coaches, while St. John's, last year's tournament champion, has been chosen second. Chris Sawyer has been selected as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, while he, Erich Braun and Justin Detter were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST squad.

    IRISH IN SEASON OPENERS - Notre Dame has a glossy 17-7-2 record in 26 season-opening contests for a .692 winning percentage. The Irish are 6-0-1 in their last seven season openers with the last loss occurring in 1994 - a 1-0 setback at Penn State. Since 1995, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 23-1 in the first game of the season. Season Openers since 1995.... 9/3/95 DePaul (H) 5-0 8/31/96 Providence (A) 1-0 8/29/97 Pittsburgh (A) - OT 0-0 9/1/98 Valparaiso (H) 6-1 9/1/99 Northwestern (A) 1-0 9/1/00 New Mexico (N) 2-0 9/1/01 Villanova (H) 5-0 8/31/02 Southwest Missouri St. (N) 3-2

    25 AND COUNTING - The 2001 campaign marked the 25th season of varsity competition for the Notre Dame men's soccer program. Since its inaugural season in 1977, Irish teams have compiled a 328-165-43 record for a .652 winning percentage. Notre Dame has won 20-plus games on three occasions and 15 or more contests 11 times. In the program's history, only five teams have had a losing season.

    ALL IN THE FAMILY - Freshman defender John Stephens (Woodbridge, Ill.) is no stranger to athletics at Notre Dame. His grandfather, Colonel John Stephens, served as Notre Dame's longtime associate athletics director until the mid-80's. His father, John, is a graduate of Notre Dame and received a law degree from the University.

    HOME SWEET HOME - Notre Dame will play nine of its 18 regular season contests at the friendly confines of Alumni Field during the 2002 season. The Irish finished 7-1 last year at home (its only loss was to Rutgers). The Irish own a 76-28-7 mark all-time for a .716 winning percentage. The '02 campaign will mark the 12th for Notre Dame at Alumni Field.

    LEADER OF THE PACK - For the first time in the history of the BIG EAST Conference, six teams represented the league in the 2001 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. The BIG EAST led all conferences with six selections. In addition to Notre Dame, Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers, St. John's and Seton Hall earned spots in the 48-team field.

    MIKE BERTICELLI TOURNAMENT - The Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament will be held Sept. 13 and 15 at Notre Dame's Alumni Field. The first annual event was orginally scheduled for last season, but was cancelled due to the tragic events of Sept. 11. The tournament is being held in honor of former Irish head coach Mike Berticelli, who coached from 1990-2000, before his sudden death in January of 2000. The participating teams in this year's field include: Bradley, Cornell and Furman. A monument (rock) honoring Berticelli's legacy at the University has been placed at the entrance to Alumni Field.

    BIG EAST FORMAT - With the addition of Virginia Tech at the start of the 2001 campaign, the BIG EAST created a change in its regular-season format with a 10-game conference format instituted. Notre Dame will not play West Virginia and Syracuse this season.

    FIRST-TIME OPPONENTS - Notre Dame will be playing Southwest Missouri State and Cornell for the first time in the 25-year history of the program. The Irish will face both teams in the opening round of tournaments. Notre Dame meets the Bears in the first game of the Diadora Challenge in Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 31 and then faces the Big Red in its first contest of the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament on Sept. 13.

    SCOTTISH CORNER KICKS - The Notre Dame men's soccer team reported back to campus on July 21 to begin an intense 10 days of workouts in preparation for their 14-day trip to Scotland. The squad left for the native homeland of head coach Bobby Clark on Aug. 2 and returned back to Indiana on Aug. 16. The Irish made their headquarters on the University of Aberdeen and Edinburgh University campuses. Junior midfielder Greg Martin recorded the events of the trip in a diary which appeared on Notre Dame's website (www.und.com) during the trip. Former Notre Dame men's soccer player Thomas Crotty (1977-79) who contributed $50,000 - the entire amount needed for the cost of the trip. The Irish finished 4-0-1 while playing five games in 11 days. Game #1 (August 4) - Notre Dame 6, Formatine United 1 Notre Dame opened its Scotland Tour with a 6-1 victory over Formatine United. Erich Braun scored two first-half goals and Paul Rodriguez added another as the Irish built a 3-1 halftime advantage. Devon Prescod gave the Irish a 4-1 lead early into the second, while Rafael Garcia and Justin Ratcliffe also added scores. Chris Sawyer started and played the entire first half, while Greg Tait played the entire second half. Game #2 (August 6) - Notre Dame 8, Banks of Dee 1 Notre Dame was impressive in its second game as the Irish registered an 8-1 win victory over the Banks of Dee. The Irish claimed a 3-0 halftime advantage on goals by Kevin Goldthwaite, Rafael Garcia and Erich Braun. Second-half scores from Chad Riley, Justin Ratcliffe and Devon Prescod pushed the Irish lead to 6-0. After the Banks of Dee scored its lone goal of the contest, Justin Detter and Prescod added the contest's final two scores. Game #3 (August 8) - Notre Dame 1, Ross County 0 Notre Dame improved to 3-0 with a 1-0 win in Dingwall over the Ross County under-21 squad. The game-winning Irish score came from Filippo Chillemi 10 minutes into the second half. The opposition nearly tied the game with three minutes remaining in the contest on a questionable call that resulted in a penalty kick, but Greg Tait's save preserved the win. Game #4 (August 12) - Notre Dame 2, Aberdeen FC Under-21 0 Notre Dame posted its most noteworthy victory of its two-week summer tour and improved to 4-0 with a 2-0 shutout over the Aberdeen under-21 squad. Erich Braun scored his fourth goal of the trip early in the second half with Filippo Chillemi adding the second goal midway through the half. Devon Prescod set up both goals in the game. Goalkeeper Chris Sawyer played the entire 90 minutes of the contest. The victory marked the first time in four games that one of Clark's teams had produced a win over that squad. Previously, he had brought to Scotland two of his Dartmouth and one of his Stanford teams. Game #5 (August 14) - Notre Dame 1, Dundee United 1 Playing its fifth game in 11 days, Notre Dame tied Dundee United 1-1 in its fifth and final game of its Scotland tour. Erich Braun netted the contest's lone goal off an assist from Devon Prescod. Dundee United tallied the equalizer with three minutes left in the contest.

     

     

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