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MEN’S SOCCER: Irish set to host tournament

Kate Gales | Friday, September 9, 2005

Before the long road trips and exhausting injuries, when every team harbors dreams of a national title and every freshman is full of potential, there are the tournaments.

For the Irish, there is one very important tournament – the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, which Notre Dame hosts annually at the beginning of the season.

In the midst of dizzying non-conference schedules, the tournament gives the team a chance to remember former Irish coach Mike Berticelli, who was the men’s soccer program head coach from 1990-99 before passing away in 2000.

But each year, the tournament features high-caliber teams and strenuous competition, preparing the Irish for a season in the Big East, one of collegiate soccer’s most challenging conferences.

“[This tournament] has the No. 1 team in the country here for a start in IU [Indiana University], two perennial tournament teams in St. Louis and Boston University, it’s up to ourselves to make up the fourth team,” coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s a fabulous tournament.”

As host, Notre Dame is set to take on Boston University at 7:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a showdown with St. Louis at 2 p.m.

The Irish are coming of a 1-1 weekend at Indiana University last weekend, at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.

After defeating then-No. 7 Southern Methodist University in a resounding 4-1 walloping, the team lost a close overtime match to then-No. 10 Wake Forest.

“We’re very excited,” Clark said. “We came off a big tournament last weekend, we’re just hoping that our tournament will stand comparison with Indiana’s.”

For Clark, one advantage that No. 1 Indiana had last weekend was the raucous home crowd.

“We just hope that our students will come out and support the way IU students did,” he said. “Four thousand people were there both nights and both days – huge crowds. I hope we’ll get a lot of people to come out and see great soccer.”

This year’s Irish squad promises excitement, having already played three overtime contests: both preseason exhibition matches, as well as last weekend’s contest against Wake Forest.

The team is 1-1-1 in overtime matches this year, but their physical fitness gives them an edge in the post-regulation time.

“The overtime games, they’re something we’ve done quite a lot of,” Clark said. “It’s quite good to get an overtime game at this point in the season, it helps you get in good condition. I think they’ve been good for the team, no complaints on that one.”

The Irish have had a number of different players scoring goals, and Chris Cahill has been solid in his first season as starting goalkeeper. However, Clark said that leadership began and ended with each individual on the team.

“I think different games, we look to different people,” he said. “It’s a funny thing, different people have got to step up, you’re always looking for guys to step up and be leaders. It doesn’t matter whether they’re freshmen or seniors, everyone has that potential.”

This tournament, with its scorching competition and closely-played games, gives the Irish the chance to notch two big wins early in the season.

“You need people to step up,” Clark said. “And the more people we have stepping up to the plate, then the better team we’re going to be.”