Sept. 26, 2000
NOTRE DAME, IND. -- The Notre Dame men's soccer team (3-4-1, 1-3-0) looks to snap a two-game losing streak with one game scheduled this week as the Irish play host to Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers are ranked 15th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Poll and are 18th in the Soccer America ranking. This will be the second ranked team the Irish have faced in as many games and the third ranked opponent overall. Notre Dame is coming off 1-2 week following a 2-1 win over Cleveland State and back-to-back 1-0 setbacks to Seton Hall and second-ranked Connecticut.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW Cleveland State: Notre Dame began its five-game homestand with a 2-1 win over Cleveland State. The Irish dominated the contest outshooting the Vikings 17-4 in the contest and 12-5 in corner kicks. All three goals were scored in the second half as neither team could manage much offense in the first 45 minutes of the game. Notre Dame's first score came off of a penalty kick by Griffin Howard (San Diego, Calif.) eight minutes into the second half after freshman Chad Riley (Houston, Texas) was fouled in the penalty box. It marked the third goal scored off of a penalty kick by the Irish this season, all three of which have been scored by Howard. Following Howard's score, the Irish struck back one minute and 28 seconds later when rookie Justin Detter (White Lake, Mich.) notched his first collegiate score off an assist from Riley. Seton Hall: Seton Hall's Ingo Dittel tallied the game's lone goal 19:31 into the contest despite the Irish owning a 19-8 shot advantage in the contest. The Irish could never capitalize on its scoring chances after outshooting the Pirates 11-2 in the second half. Sophomore goalkeeper Greg Tait (Fayetteville, N.Y.) made three saves in the game. Connecticut: The Irish suffered their second consecutive 1-0 setback in losing to the second-ranked Huskies. Connecticut's Daren Lewis provided the game-winning score for the visitors on a diving header from eight yards out at the 80:25 mark of the contest. Notre Dame turned in one of its best defenses performances of the season as it limited the visitors to just nine shots. The Huskies also had a strong defensive showing as they allowed just four Notre Dame shots, two by Braun and two by Riley. Braun had Notre Dame best scoring chance in the first half when he stole the ball at the UConn 30-yard line and broke away from the Connecticut defense before launching a shot that went wide right of the goal.
HEAD COACH CHRIS APPLE Chris Apple is in his first season as head coach of the Irish. He earned his first victory at Notre Dame in the team's 2-0 season-opening win over New Mexico in the first round of the UNLV Fila/Snickers Rebel Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Apple 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 at the school, he compiled a 12-20-1 record. His overall coaching ledger currently stands at 15-24-2. 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 OPPONENT Pittsburgh: The series is tied between the two schools 1-1-3 with the last three meetings resulting in ties. Notre Dame is 1-0-1 versus the Panthers at home. Two years ago, the teams played to a 2-2 deadlock at Alumni Field.
GRIFFIN PERFECT IN PENALTY KICKS Senior Griffin Howard is a perfect three-for-three in penalty kicks and lead the team with six points. Howard's first goal of the season came off of a penalty kick in the season opener against New Mexico at the UNLV Fila/Snickers Rebel Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. His second came in Notre Dame's 3-1 loss to Bradley in the home opener. Howard, a midfielder, entered the 2000 campaign having played in just seven game in his three previous seasons. His missed the entire 1998 campaign with an injury and only played in two contests during the 1999 season.
HOMESTAND CONTINUES Notre Dame is in the midst of a five-game homestand, its longest of the season. The Irish opened up the 2000 campaign by playing four of its first five games on the road. Following a matchup with Northwestern on Oct. 3, the Irish have just two home games remaining in their last seven games of the season.
DETTER GETS FIRST COLLEGIATE SCORE Freshman Justin Detter scored his first collegiate goal in Notre Dame's 2-1 victory over Cleveland State. He is one of three freshman to score a goal this season. Detter has played in all eight games and made seven starts. The other rookie goal scorers for the Irish have been Chad Riley and Devon Prescod (Marietta, Ga.).
TAIT HAS HAPPY HOMECOMING Sophomore Greg Tait made his homecoming back to the Syracuse, N.Y. area on Sept. 16 a happy one by posting his third shutout of the season in Notre Dame 3-0 victory over Syracuse. Tait made five saves in the contest in registering his third shutout in four games on the road. Overall this season, he has given up just eight goals this season and has 0.96 goals against average and .784 save percentage. Tait has had a career-high five saves in three games this season (New Mexico, Boston College and Syracuse).
WORTHY ROAD OPPONENT Notre Dame is 2-1-1 in road games and neutral site contests this season. The Irish defense has played particular well on the road posting three shutouts and giving up just two goals. The only two goals Apple's squad has allowed on the road were against Boston College in a 2-0 loss on Sept. 9.
BRAUN RETURNS TO STARTING LINEUP Sophomore Erich Braun, the 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and a member of the preseason all-conference team, started his first game of the season against Syracuse in the 3-0 victory. He has started the last four games for the Irish. The 5-10 forward had a productive outing in his return to the starting lineup as he finished with an assist. Braun, who led the Irish in scoring last season with team-highs of nine goals and six assists (24 points), missed the first three games of the season because of a hamstring injury. He returned to the lineup against Boston College, coming off the bench in the final 10 minutes of the contest.
HOME SWEET HOME Notre Dame has struggled winning at home this season as the Irish are have just one win in their first four games. Notre Dame finished the '99 season with a 7-3-0 mark at home after 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. Notre Dame owns a 66-26-5 mark for a .706 winning percentage.
RAUN 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).
TAIT, FORSTNER COP TOURNAMENT HONORS Sophomore Greg Tait was named Most Valuable Player of the UNLV/Fila Snickers Rebel Classic as he posted two shutouts in the first starts of his career. He played 210 minutes and recorded nine saves in the two games. In addition, he was named BIG EAST goalkeeper of the week in the first week of the season. Against New Mexico, he had five stops. Defender Andreas Forstner, who also was instrumental in Notre Dame's two shutouts, was selected the defensive player of the tournament.
Sun., Sept. 24 has been designated Jr. Irish Youth Soccer Day. Junior Irish members will be receive free admission by wearing their jersey to the game.