Oct. 7, 2011
#11 NOTRE DAME (5-2-3, 1-1-0)
Saturday, Oct. 8 Noon (ET)
Alumni Stadium Notre Dame, Ind.
(Free admission for all fans)
Connecticut Leads Series 10-7-3
SETTING THE STAGE
Notre Dame (5-2-3, 1-1-0) will play host to top-ranked Connecticut (11-0-0, 2-0-0) on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Kickoff for the BIG EAST Blue Division clash is slated for noon (ET). Admission to the match is free for all fans. A free live video broadcast of Saturday's match will be available on UND.com. Live stats via Gametracker and an in-game blog will be available on UND.com. Fans can also sign up for `Irish Alert' on UND.com to receive text message score updates. Updates and results can also be found on Twitter at UND_com.
FUTBOL BEFORE FOOTBALL
Fans coming to campus for Saturday's Notre Dame-Air Force football game (3:30 p.m. ET) are encouraged to attend the Notre Dame-Connecticut soccer tilt at noon. No ticket or admission of any kind is needed to see the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish take on the top-ranked Huskies.
Notre Dame played Northwestern to a 1-1 draw in non-conference action on Wednesday night at Alumni Stadium. Junior forward Ryan Finley put the Irish on top in the 38th minute with his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Senior midfielder Adam Mena assisted on the play. Mena leads the Irish in points (10) and assists (4) this season. Northwestern scored the equalizer in the 79th minute. Both teams had 11 shots in the match. The Irish outshot the Wildcats 4-2 in overtime. Senior Will Walsh has played every minute in goal so far this season. He has three shutouts and boasts a 0.91 goals-against average to go along with a .804 save percentage. He has seven clean sheets in 17 career starts.
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST CONNECTICUT
Saturday will be the 21st meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Connecticut. The Huskies hold a 10-7-3 edge in the series. The two teams played to a scoreless draw last season in Storrs, Conn. The last three meetings between the Irish and Huskies have gone to overtime. Notre Dame and Connecticut have split those contests, 1-1-1. Six of the past seven matches between the Irish and Huskies have been decided by either one goal or have resulted in a tie. Notre Dame is 4-3-2 at home versus Connecticut. The Irish captured a 2-1 overtime victory in the last meeting at Notre Dame, which occurred during the 2009 campaign. Connecticut also brought a No. 1 ranking into Notre Dame in 2007 and the two squads battled to a 3-3 tie. The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead by halftime and the Irish stormed back with three straight tallies in a 13-minute span. Connecticut scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute.
A LOOK AT THE HUSKIES
Connecticut is 11-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in BIG EAST play. The Huskies have outscored their opponents 20-2 on the season. Two of Connecticut's victories have occurred in double-overtime. Sophomore forward Mamadou Diouf has a team-high six goals, while senior Tony Cascio has a team-best five assists. Freshman goalkeeper Andre Blake has all 11 decisions. He has a 0.18 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. The Huskies have posted nine shutouts and they have yet to be blanked. Last season, Connecticut registered a 12-2-6 record. The Huskies went 5-1-3 in BIG EAST play to finish third in the Blue Division standings. Connecticut was eliminated by Brown, 7-6 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw, in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Head coach Ray Reid is in his 14th season at the helm of the Connecticut program. He has a 211-70-34 record with the Huskies.
Saturday will be the first time the Fighting Irish have faced a No. 1 ranked team since they fell to top-ranked Louisville, 1-0, in the semifinals of last season's BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame's last win over a No. 1 ranked team was a 2-1 overtime triumph of UCLA during the 2007 season opener at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind.
Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark shares his thoughts on the Connecticut match ... "UConn has gotten off to a fantastic start this season. They are a legitimate No. 1 team in the country and that's great for the BIG EAST. They'll come into this game as a favorite, but at the same time it's an opportunity for us to stake a claim to being in the top echelon of this year's college teams."
Six of Notre Dame's 10 games this season have been decided by one goal. The Fighting Irish are 4-2 in those contests.
Notre Dame has played six overtime games this season. The Irish are 1-2-3 in those matches. Notre Dame's only two losses of the season have occurred in double-overtime. The Irish fell to Saint Louis (104th minute) and St. John's (110th minute) by identical 2-1 scores.
Notre Dame holds a 7-1 scoring edge in the first half of play this season. The Fighting Irish have scored the first goal in seven of their 10 matches this season. The Irish have not trailed at halftime this season.
KLAZURA A LOWE'S SENIOR CLASS AWARD FINALIST
Greg Klazura has been named one of 10 finalists up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in the men's soccer division. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Klazura graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in pre-professional studies (pre-med). He finished his undergraduate career with a 3.583 cumulative grade-point average. He currently is taking courses that emphasize service and or medicine to boost his resume for medical school. Klazura was named to the 2010 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-Region first team. He also is a two-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star (2009 & 2010).
Five of Notre Dame's 2011 regular-season opponents appear in the top 13 of this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. The Irish will play host to No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday, while St. John's (#9) and Indiana (#10) also are in the top 10. Notre Dame played Indiana to a scoreless draw and fell at St. John's, 2-1 in double-overtime. The Fighting Irish topped current No. 11 Louisville, 1-0, and they play at Georgetown on Oct. 15. Notre Dame is ranked 12th in the current NSCAA poll.
The Fighting Irish have two BIG EAST Blue Division road matches next week. Notre Dame will play at Marquette on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET) and at Georgetown on Saturday (1:00 p.m. ET).
IRISH DEFENSE RECOGNIZED
Notre Dame has produced two BIG EAST Defensive Players of the Week this season. Junior central defender Grant Van De Casteele earned the honor on Sept. 19, while senior left back Greg Klazura received the accolade on Sept. 26. Klazura also was named to the Soccer America national team of the week. Central defender Aaron Maund was named to the Top Drawer Soccer national team of the week on Sept. 26, while senior goalkeeper Will Walsh has been selected to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll twice this season (Aug. 29 & Sept. 26).
MENA ON A MISSION
Senior midfielder Adam Mena has had a hand in six of Notre Dame's last seven goals. Mena has a team-high 10 points on three goals and four assists. The point, goal and assists totals all are career-high figures.
NOTRE DAME IN BIG EAST PLAY
Notre Dame owns an overall record of 98-56-18 (.622) in BIG EAST regular-season play since joining the conference in 1995. The Irish have posted 10 straight winning campaigns within the league, including last season's 6-2-1 mark. The most wins for Notre Dame in BIG EAST play is eight, which occurred in 2004 (8-1-1), 2006 (8-3) and 2009 (8-3). The Irish have three regular-season BIG EAST titles. Notre Dame won the championship outright in 2004 and 2008 (Blue Division) and shared the Blue Division trophy with Connecticut in 2007. The Fighting Irish captured BIG EAST tournament crowns in 1996 and 2003.
HOME SWEET HOME
Notre Dame is 11-2-4 at home over the past two seasons. The Irish have won their last seven BIG EAST regular-season home games. Notre Dame was 5-0-0 in league play at home last season.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Notre Dame's 15 goals this season have come from eight different players. Junior forward Ryan Finley has a team-high four goals and senior midfielder Adam Mena has three tallies. Danny O'Leary (Jr./F) and Harrison Shipp (So./F) both have two goals, while four Irish players have one goal apiece.
CLARK MOVES TO TOP OF PROGRAM WINS LIST
Notre Dame's 2-1 victory over Bucknell on Sept. 11 gave Irish head coach Bobby Clark the most wins in program history. Clark, who is in his 11th season on the Notre Dame sidelines, has a 132-61-33 record with the Irish. He moved past Rich Hunter, who was Notre Dame's first varsity head coach from 1977-83.
GUARDING THE GOAL
Notre Dame has allowed just 29 goals over the past two seasons, a span of 30 matches. The Fighting Irish allowed just 19 goals all of last season and they have given up just 10 so far this season. The Irish have not surrendered more than two goals in a single match since a 3-1 loss at Northwestern in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
QUITE A CROWD
A sellout crowd of over 3,000 fans attended Notre Dame's season opener against Indiana on Aug. 27. That is a record attendance for a men's contest at Alumni Stadium, which opened in 2009. It was Notre Dame's largest crowd for a regular-season match since Sept. 22, 1995 when 3,339 fans came to see the Irish and Hoosiers at old Alumni Field.
Senior defender Aaron Maund has started all 69 matches in which he has played during his Notre Dame career. The only five games he has missed was during his sophomore campaign in 2009 when he was with the United States Under-20 National Team at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt. He has started all 42 matches with the Irish since returning from the international competition. He played every possible minute on the pitch during the 2008 and 2010 campaigns and he has not left a match this season.
Since Bobby Clark took over the reins of the Notre Dame program in 2001, the Irish have won at least 10 matches during all 10 seasons of the Clark era. The Fighting Irish have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of the past 10 seasons. That streak ranks in a tie for fifth nationally. Notre Dame is the only team in the BIG EAST to finish in the top two of either division standings in each of the past four seasons. The Fighting Irish also are the only BIG EAST squad to qualify for the semifinals in each of the past four league tournaments.
TRIO OF IRISH PLAYERS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Ryan Finley (Jr./F), Aaron Maund (Sr./D) and Dillon Powers (Jr./M) all received preseason All-America honors. Finley and Maund copped the accolades from College Soccer News, while Maund and Powers were tabbed by Soccer America.
Notre Dame's 2011 freshman class was selected as the 14th best rookie class in the nation according to College Soccer News. The five-man class features four high school All-Americans. Comprising the class are: midfielder/defender Nick Besler (Overland Park, Kan.), forward Vince Cicciarelli (Peoria, Ill.), midfielder Robby Gallegos (Aptos, Calif.), midfielder/forward Max Lachowecki (Evansville, Ind.) and midfielder Brendan Lesch (Westport, Conn.).
A GREAT NIGHT FOR GRASSROOT
Notre Dame held its annual exhibition game to benefit Grassroot Soccer on Aug. 22. A total of 2,444 fans packed into Alumni Stadium to watch the Irish play Creighton to a 2-2 draw. All of the proceeds from the match went to Grassroot Soccer, an international AIDS awareness and education organization that reaches youth in Africa through soccer clinics. Dr. Tommy Clark, the eldest son of Irish head coach Bobby Clark, is the founder and CEO of Grassroot Soccer. Notre Dame has held a match to benefit Grassroot Soccer in each of the past eight seasons.
FOLLOW THE IRISH ON UND.COM
All 2011 Notre Dame home matches that are not televised can be seen live on UND.com. The streaming broadcasts are free of charge. Log on to UND.com to stay up to date on the Fighting Irish men's soccer team throughout the 2011 campaign.
PURCHASE YOUR IRISH SOCCER TICKETS
To purchase a season pass or single-game tickets for Fighting Irish soccer, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the tickets page at the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com (UND.com/tickets) or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows inside the new Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (entrance via Gate 9). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on gamedays. For group discount pricing information call Rita Baxter in the Notre Dame Ticket Office at (574) 631-4165.