#32 Notre Dame Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #6 Big East Conference
Notre Dame Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Notre Dame Team Page


Notre Dame’s men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark is gunning for that NCAA title and not backing down.  For the past ten seasons as a head coach, Clark has taken Notre Dame to the NCAA tournament.  Repetition isn’t Coach Clark’s only trait either, he also shows progression taking home the Big East tournament title in 2003 and claiming three Big East regular season crowns (2004, 2007, and 2008).  In 2006 Coach Clark took his team to a program first ever NCAA Tournament quarterfinals and repeated his performance again in 2007.  Coach Clark is a winning coach with a record of 280-122-55 but he isn’t the only one that makes Notre Dame a contender for the NCAA title. Clark’s squad of conditioned and calibrated players are ready for the title as well.

2011 Record: 9-5-4, 5-3-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bobby Clark

The returning class for the Fighting Irish is by far Notre Dame’s biggest strength and leading the squad on the pitch is forward Ryan Finley. Finley played with Duke his freshman and sophomore seasons before making his Notre Dame debut last year.  In the 2011 season Finley scored seven goals on 65 shots but not far behind Finley with five goals was midfielder Harrison Shipp.  Adam Mena and Danny O’Leary, both returning midfielders, ended last season with four goals. Mena also led the team in assists last year.  Dillon Powers is one of the best defensive midfielders in the nation and the senior can be a fine playmaker in the midfield as well a great extra defender when needed. Notre Dame’s defense has four returning players; Luke Mishu, Andrew O’Malley, Grant Van de Casteele, and keeper Will Walsh, who recorded 62 saves while only allowing 16 goals in the 2011 season. Head coach Bobby Clark felt that his team played very well against the Mexico Men’s Under-20 National Team in the spring even though Notre Dame was defeated by one goal.  Coach Clark said in a press statement after the spring game, "It took us a little while to get our confidence in the first half. Mexico is very good with the ball. Once we got our confidence and started winning the ball, we found our feet.”

Coach Clark and the Fighting Irish welcomed only a handful of freshman this season and will have to get them worked into the mix and get settled where they need to be on the roster before the season opener. With such a veteran squad, where most of the players have played with each other over the past couple of seasons and know when, where, and how their teammates play, the Notre Dame freshman need to learn and be able to step in as subs without the squad missing a beat. Notre Dame doesn’t have an easy season ahead of them so they will need everyone to be ready to play at all times. The Irish will see Northern Illinois in an exhibition match followed by Xavier, who Notre Dame tied in a spring season contest. For their season opener, the Fighting Irish take on Duke and Finley’s former teammates, then San Diego State and Clemson in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.  The rest of the season doesn’t bring any sunshine either when they take on top teams such as Akron, Indiana, Oregon State, Northwestern and Providence.     

Final Projection:
Look for Notre Dame to make an NCAA appearance again for the 11th straight season. Notre Dame has a good chance to take another Big East conference title as well as long as the veteran squad can keep their composure and find their feet early in the 2012 matches.  If Finley and the offense can continue to make goals while the defense stops the opposing offense, Notre Dame will end with a winning season and quite possibly a couple of titles to add to Coach Clark’s already impressive resume.  

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Ryan Finley, Senior, F, 7
Assists: Adam Mena, Senior, M, 5
Shots: Ryan Finley, Senior, F, 65
Saves: Will Walsh, Senior, GK, 62

Madness 2013 MLS Draft Rankings:
#4 Dillon Powers
#15 Ryan Finley

Madness 2012 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#74 Patrick Hodan
#110 Connor Klekota