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    #15 Notre Dame Opens Season with Wins over Valparaiso and Syracuse

    FIGHTING IRISH
    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    September 8, 1998

    NOTRE DAME, IND. -- The 15th-ranked Notre Dame men's soccer team (2-0-0, 1-0-0), which opened up its 1998 season with wins over Valparaiso (6-1) and Syracuse (3-1), will play twice at home this week as the Irish face Northwestern in a non-league contest on Tuesday, September 8 at 7:30 p.m. and then entertain BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh on Sunday, September 13 at 1:00 p.m.

    THE WEEK IN REVIEW -- Valparaiso: Freshman Shane Walton (San Diego, Calif.) scored two goals and dished off two assists in his collegiate debut, while senior Ben Bocklage (St. Louis, Mo.) also added two goals as Notre Dame defeated the Crusaders 6-1 in its season opener. The Irish have now won all 26 meetings between the two teams. Junior Ryan Cox (Broadview Hts., Ohio) netted a goal and had two assists and sophomore Reggie McKnight (Greenville, S.C.) also contributed a goal in the win. Notre Dame scored three goals in each half, including a flurry in the final 12 minutes before the break, while outshooting Valparaiso 21-7 for the game. Syracuse: Syracuse scored the contest's first goal 19:05 into the game, but the Irish answered with three unanswered scores to post a 3-1 road victory in their BIG EAST opener. Shane Walton netted his third score of the season off an Andrew Aris (Auckland, New Zealand) feed to tie the game at 1-1 with less than seven minutes to play in the game. Aris provided the game winner off a Scott Wells (Phoenix, Ariz.) feed at the 64th minute and then Wells gave Notre Dame an insurance goal off a Ryan Cox assist with six minutes to play in the game.

    HEAD COACH MIKE BERTICELLI -- Notre Dame head coach Mike Berticelli is in his ninth season along the Irish sidelines and 23rd as a collegiate coach. He has led Notre Dame to three of the school's four NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1994 and 1996). In 1996, his Irish squad won the school's first-ever NCAA tournament game when it defeated second-seeded UNC Greensboro in the first round. Berticelli has an 88-65-13 (.569) mark at Notre Dame and is 275-120-36 (.680) overall. In three of the last five seasons, Irish teams have won conference tournament titles. Under Berticelli, the Irish claimed the 1996 BIG EAST tournament crown in just its second year as a member of the league with consecutive wins over ranked opponents Connecticut and Rutgers. During the 1993 and 1994 campaigns, the Irish won back-to-back MCC tournament crowns and earned berths in the NCAA tournament. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent six seasons (1984-89) at Old Dominion where his teams compiled a 76-27-16 record for a .706 winning percentage. Berticelli coached for four years at UNC-Greensboro (1980-83) with his teams compiling a 70-9-5 record (.863) and winning two Division III national crowns in 1982 and 1983. His first head coaching stint was at Thomas College where he coached from (1976-79) with his teams posting a 41-19-2 mark during that four-year span. The Irish have won 10-plus games in six of his eight seasons at the Notre Dame helm.

    SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS -- Northwestern: This is the fifth straight season the two teams will be playing each other and the 12th time since the series first began in 1978. Notre Dame leads the series 9-1-1 and is 6-0 at home versus the Wildcats. The only loss the Irish suffered to Northwestern was in Evanston, Ill. when they dropped a 1-0 decision. Last season in Evanston, the two squads battled to a 2-2 tie. Pittsburgh: This will be the fourth time the two teams have played. The series is even at 1-1-1. Each team has won on its home field. Last time the Panthers visited Alumni Field two years ago (1996), they were beaten 3-0. Last season's meeting at Pittsburgh produced a 0-0 overtime deadlock.

    HOME SWEET HOME -- Notre Dame's 6-1 against Valparaiso to open the season marked the beginning of the ninth season at Alumni Field for the Irish. Since 1990, they have won 72.4 percent of their games, compiling a 54-19-5 record. Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past three-plus seasons, although Notre Dame somewhat struggled at home in 1997 winning just six of 10 games. The four losses represented the most for a Notre Dame team at Alumni Field in eight years. However, four of the six wins were shutouts. The previous season, 1996, the Irish had a 7-1-2 mark at home after posting an 8-3 record during the 1995 campaign. Notre Dame won a school-record 11 wins in 1994 en route to an 11-3-1 mark. Berticelli's squad recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home.

    QUITE A DEBUT -- Shane Walton's two goals and two assists against Valparaiso marked the best first outing by an Irish freshman in a season opener. His six points were the most scored by a Notre Dame men's soccer player in a collegiate debut. Walton also had the game-tying goal on the road in Notre Dame's 3-1 victory over BIG EAST foe Syracuse. His three goals and two assists (eight points) lead the Irish this season.

    BIG EAST HONOR FOR WALTON -- Shane Walton became the first Notre Dame player to garner BIG EAST honors this season as he was named the league's rookie of the week. Walton contributed three goals and two assists in leading the Irish to a 2-0 start.

    WELCOME BACK -- Ryan Cox, a BIG EAST all-Rookie Team selection in 1996, has returned to the Irish lineup after missing the 1997 campaign with an ankle injury. In his two games back, he is tied for second in the scoring column with a goal and team-leading three assists. Cox had a goal and two assists in Notre Dame's 6-1 win over Valparaiso. He assisted on both of Shane Walton's goals in the contest. Cox also netted his first goal of the season 5:51 into the second half off assists from Shane Walton and Ben Bocklage. He also provided the assist on Scott Wells' insurance goal in Notre Dame's win versus Syracuse.

    VALPO BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN BOCKLAGE -- Notre Dame senior midfielder Ben Bocklage seems to play well against the Crusaders. In the four meetings during his career, Bocklage scored four goals and dished off an assist. His two-goal performance last Tuesday night was the second of his career against Valparaiso. As a freshman in 1995, the first two goals of his nine-goal campaign were scored in that contest, a 7-0 win in the second game of the season.

    WELLS RETURNS AGAINST SYRACUSE -- Senior Scott Wells missed the opener against Valparaiso with an injury, but returned to the lineup to come off the bench versus the Orangemen. Wells had the assist on Andrew Aris' game-winning score in the 64th minute of the contest, and then gave the Irish an insurance score with six minutes left to play in the game off an assist from Ryan Cox.

    IRONMAN -- Matt Johnson has played in all 65 games throughout his career and has made starting appearances in 64 of those contests. The only start he has missed was against Georgetown during the 1995 season. Heading into his final campaign, the two-time captain has one goal and seven assists (nine points).

    IRONMAN II -- Along with Matt Johnson, senior goalkeeper Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) has been a mainstay in the Irish lineup for four seasons. He has started 56 of the 60 contests he has played, owns a 32-20-4 mark and has 21 career shutouts.

    MURPHY, CUTLER AND MCNEW ADD STABILTY IN THE BACK -- The three starters in the Irish backfield have a combined 107 starts between them. Matt McNew (Arlington, Tex.) leads the Irish defense with 41 career starts in the 44 games he has played in during his two-plus seasons. Senior David Cutler (Seattle, Wash.) is in his third year as a starter and has 37 in his career. Phil Murphy (Brentwood, Tenn.) started six games as a sophomore in 1996 and became a full-time starter for the Irish as a junior as he started all 20 contests he played. He earned one start as a freshman in 1995 and has 29 career starts in three-plus seasons.

    McKNIGHT EXCELS IN THE MIDFIELD -- Sophomore Reggie McKnight, who ended up fourth in the Irish scoring column following his freshman year with four goals and three assists, had a goal and an assist in Notre Dame's win over Valparaiso. He has started the first two games of the season for the Irish after making starts in the first 11 contests of the '97 campaign.

    IRISH OPEN UP STRONG ON THE ROAD -- Notre Dame had a 4-4-2 mark in road games last season, but opened up the '98 season with a win at Syracuse. It was the second time in three years that the Irish have posted a win in their road opener. Two years ago, they posted their first-ever BIG EAST road win with a 1-0 victory at Providence, and a year ago, opened up the '97 campaign with a scoreless tie at Pittsburgh.

    LAROSE IN THE STARTING LINEUP -- Sophomore Connor LaRose (Claremont, Calif.) earned starts in the midfield in Notre Dame's first two games of the season. He played in 13 games for the Irish a year ago, and started the final four contests of the season. LaRose finished the season with three assists.

    HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS -- Notre Dame starts the season with a favorable schedule playing three of their first four contests at home. Following this week's games against Northwestern (September 8) and Pittsburgh (September 13), the Irish are on the road for two BIG EAST tests against Rutgers (September 18) and Villanova (September 20).

    SHOT GUN -- In its first two contests, Notre Dame has outshot (33-13) and outscored (9-2) its opponents. The Irish have converted on 27.3 percent of their shots while Notre Dame opponents have made good on 15.4 percent of their shots.

    IRISH ON THE INTERNET -- The official Notre Dame Athletic Department website is available at www.und.com. All media guide information, press releases, results and gamenotes are available and updated daily. For more information contact the Irish Sports Information Office at (219) 631-7516.

    NSCAA/Umbro
    (Week of September 7)
                                LW
    1.  Indiana (2-0-0)         3    
    2.  Washington (3-0-0)      7    
    3.  Clemson (3-0-0)         12   
    4.  Virginia (1-0-1)        2
    5.  Creighton (2-0-0)       10
    6.  Duke (3-0-0)            14
    7.  South Carolina (3-0-0)  8
    8.  Stanford (2-0-0)        21
    9.  Connecticut (2-0-0)     NR
    10. Seton Hall (2-0-0)      NR
    11. Southern Methodist      6
    12. UCLA (1-1-0)            1
    13. Georgetown (2-0-0)      20
    14. St. John's (0-1-0)      9
    15. NOTRE DAME (2-0-0)      NR
    16. James Madison (2-0-0)   NR
    17. Saint Louis (2-1-0)     4
    18. Cal State Fullerton (2-0-1) NR
    19. Boston University (2-0-0)   22
    20. Wake Forest (3-0-0)     NR
    21. Penn State (1-0-1)      NR
    22. Maryland (1-1-0)        11
    23  Hartwick (2-0-1)        NR
    24. Akron (1-1-0)           NR
        North Carolina Charlotte (2-0-0)    25  
    
    SOCCER AMERICA
    (Week of September 7)
                                LW
    1.  Indiana (2-0-0)         2
    2.  Stanford (2-0-0)        6
    3.  South Carolina (3-0-0)  NR
    4.  Clemson (3-0-0)         7
    5.  UCLA (1-1-0)            1
    6.  Duke (3-0-0)            9
    7.  Virginia (1-0-1)        4
    8.  Creighton (2-0-0)       17
    9.  Saint Louis (2-1-0)     3
    10. Seton Hall (2-0-0)      NR
    11. Brown (0-0-0)           11
    12. Boston University (2-0-0)   14
    13. Dartmouth (0-0-0)       13  
    14  Connecticut (2-0-0)     18
    15. Southern Methodist (1-0-0)  15
    16. Washington (3-0-0)      NR
    17. Maryland (1-1-0)        5
    18. Georgetown (2-0-0)      19
    19. Furman (2-0-1)          16
    20. UNC Greensboro (2-0-1)  20
    
    NSCAA GREAT LAKES REGIONAL POLL
    (September 7)
        1.  Indiana (50)    2-0-0
        2.  NOTRE DAME (41) 2-0-0
        3.  Akron (35)  1-1-0
        4.  Bowling Green (34)  2-1-0
        5.  Butler (27) 1-1-0
        6.  Cincinnati (22) 2-0-0
        7.  Ohio State (15) 1-1-1
        8.  Marquette (10)  1-1-0
            Dayton (10) 1-1-0
            Oakland (10)    1-1-0
    

    Others receiving votes: Louisville, Marshall, Xavier


     

     

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