Sept. 22, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The 18th-ranked Notre Dame mens soccer team (4-1-1, 2-1-1) faces its fourth consecutive BIG EAST test when the Irish entertain seventh-ranked St. Johns on Saturday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. on Alumni Field. The Irish, who trail the series 0-3-1, will be looking for their first-ever win against the Red Storm.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
Rutgers: The Irish dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. Simon Forsters goal off an assist from David Boutilier 11:54 into the first overtime session provided the winning differential for the host team. The final 1-0 outcome was the fourth straight game the contest was decided by that score. Prior to Friday nights loss to Rutgers, Notre Dame had won the two previous meetings between the two schools. The Scarlet Knights outshot the Irish 13-4 in the game. Greg Velho (Longwood, Fla.) made seven saves in the game, while freshman Shane Walton (San Diego, Calif.) was held scoreless for the first time in five games.
Villanova: Shane Waltons goal 14 seconds into overtime lifted the Irish to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Villanova. The goal was the sixth of the season in as many games for the Notre Dame rookie. Playing in their third straight overtime contest, the Irish fought back from a first-half 1-0 deficit when junior Matt McNew (Arlington, Tex.) tallied his first goal of the season which tied the game at the 71:24 mark. Notre Dame outshot the Wildcats 19-17 in the game and Irish goalkeeper Greg Velho came up with five saves.
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 91-66-14 (.573) mark at Notre Dame and is 278-121-37 (.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 OPPONENT - St. Johns: The Red Storm lead the four-game series 3-0-1. Notre Dame dropped two games last year to St. Johns losing 1-0 during the regular season and 4-1 in its BIG EAST tournament semififnal contest. The two teams battled to a 2-2 overtime deadlock in 1996 in the Red Storms first-ever appearance at Alumni Field.
WALTONS HEROICS LIFTS IRISH AGAIN - For the second time in six games, freshman Shane Walton provided the game-winning tally for the Irish when he scored 14 seconds into overtime in Notre Dames come-from-behind win at Villanova on Sunday. Walton, who has six goals in six games this season, also had the winning tally in Notre Dames 1-0 win at home against Northwestern on September 8. He has earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors in the seasons first two weeks.
OFF AND RUNNING - In just six games, Shane Walton has clearly emerged as one of the nations top freshmen. The 5-11 forward leads the team in scoring with six goals and three assists (15 points) and has scored at least one goal in five of Notre Dames first six games. He was held scoreless for the first time in the 1-0 Irish loss at Rutgers. Walton has had one multiple-goal game and two multiple-point games. His first multiple-point performance was against Valparaiso in the season opener when he tallied twice and also dished off two assists. His second came in Notre Dames 2-2 tie with Pittsburgh on September 13.
McNEW GETS FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON - Junior Matt McNew netted his first score of the season against Villanova in Notre Dames dramatic 2-1 overtime victory on the road. McNew had the game-tying score at the 71:24 mark when a ball deflected off a Villanova defender. The goal was the fourth of his career.
HOME SWEET HOME - Notre Dame is 2-0-1 at home this season at Alummi Field. The 1998 campaign marks the ninth season for the Irish playing at Alumni Field. Since 1990, Notre Dame has won 72.5 percent of its games, compiling a 55-19-6 record. Alumni Field has not been a friendly place for Irish opponents the past three-plus seasons, although Coach Mike Berticellis squad 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. Four of the six wins, however, 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 team recorded eight shutouts in 1996, six of which were at home.
WORKING OVERTIME - Notre Dames last three games have required the Irish to go to overtime. Coach Mike Berticellis squad is 1-1-1 in those contests. Last season, Notre Dame played six overtime games and were 1-3-2 in those games. Notre Dames lone victory was in an overtime game came against TCU (4-3) on October 5.
CLOSE CALLS - Notre Dame had 11 games in 1997 that were decided by a single goal and were 4-7 in those contests. Three of this years first six outings have been one-goal decisions. Coach Mike Berticellis squad is 2-1 in overtime games this season. Notre Dame beat Northwestern 1-0, lost to Rutgers on the road and overtime and grabbed a 2-1 overtime victory at Villanova.
WALTON AND COX ARE A SCORING COMBINATION - The combination of Shane Walton and Ryan Cox (Broadview Hts, Ohio) has appeared prominently on the Irish scoresheet this season. Together, the dou has been involved in six of the 14 goals scored by the team this season. They have combined for eight goals and eight of the teams 16 assists.
VELHO REACHES SHUTOUT NUMBER 22 - Senior Greg Velho recorded his first shutout of the season and 22nd of his career when the Irish beat Northwestern 1-0. The senior had been impressive in the teams first four BIG EAST games. He had a season-high nine saves, including five in the two overtime sessions. Velho made seven saves in the 1-0 overtime loss to Rutgers and came up with five stops against Villanova. Overall, he has a 0.93 goals against average, with six goals allowed, has registered 27 saves (24 of those have come in league games) and has a .818 save percentage.
IRONMAN - Matt Johnson (Livermore, Calif.) has played in all 69 games throughout his career and has made starting appearances in 68 of those contests. The only start he has missed was against Georgetown during the 1995 season. Johnson dished off his first assist of the campaign when he and teammate Ryan Cox combined in Shane Waltons scoring effort in the 1-0 win over Northwestern.
IRONMAN II - Greg Velho has been Notre Dames starting goalkeeper since his freshman season and has played in 3,586 consecutive minutes over the last two-plus seasons. With a shoulder injury to Gerick Short (Mobile, Ala.), he is the only goalkeeper in the Irish lineup. He has played every minute of every game in Notre Dames last 38 contests and has not been replaced in the lineup since the Irish beat Western Illinois 6-0 on October 11, 1996.
IRISH CONTINUE STRONG ROAD EFFORTS - All three of Notre Dames road games have come against BIG EAST opponents. The Irish are 2-1 in contests away from Alumni Field this season with wins over Syracuse and Villanova. Notre Dame was 4-4-2 on the road last season.
BIG EAST WELL REPRESENTED IN POLLS - The BIG EAST Conference has four teams ranked in this weeks National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll. Each of the last two weeks, the league had five teams ranked in the top 25. Notre Dame, which was 16th a week, fell to 18th in the rankings. Connecticut is the highest ranked BIG EAST team as the Huskies made the jump from sixth to third. St. Johns moved into the top 10 as the Red Storm jumped from 11th to seventh. Seton Hall climbed nine spots as the Pirates are ranked 13th.
PRIDMORE GETS FIRST CAREER START - Dustin Pridmore (Dallas, Tex.) earned his first career start against Villanova. He has played in three games this season, and as a freshman, saw action in just five contests.
SHOT GUN - In its first six contests, Notre Dame has outshot (89-66) and outscored (14-6) its opponents.
IRISH IN THE NCAA STATISTICS - In the recent NCAA statistics released on Monday, September 21, Shane Walton is tied for 16th in points per game (2.50), while Ryan Cox is tied for 16th in assists per game (0.83).
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.