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Men’s Soccer: Brown leads Irish offense

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The three goals scored by No. 4 Notre Dame so far this season have all had something in common: Each goal was struck by senior forward Leon Brown.

The Mattapan, Mass., product has scored three goals in three games for the Irish (1-0-2, 0-0-1 ACC), including the equalizer in the 79th minute of Notre Dame’s 1-1 home draw with then-No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday.

“I just feel like I had a lot to prove,” Brown said. “I didn’t really have a lot of goals last year, so I wanted to make sure to help the team as much as I can. “Being a forward, scoring goals is what you have to do, so I think my mentality is just doing whatever I can to help the team.”

Irish coach Bobby Clark said he’s pleased that his striker is playing so well in every facet of the game.

“He’s connecting passes, he’s combining with other players” Clark said of Brown. “He’s looking very sharp, very alert.”

Although Brown scored just one goal in the 2012 season, the forward has been helping the Irish for some time, Clark said.

“I think the only game he missed last year was the final of the Big East [Championship], and that was because he was injured,” Clark said. “So he maybe didn’t score as many [goals], but he was a major, major player last year also.”

Brown, who spent six weeks of the summer studying abroad in the Notre Dame London program, said he made some adjustments to his game over the summer after playing informally with his cousin, who lives in London.

“It was a new experience, which helped kind of change my mind-set positionally,” Brown said. “And coming back, playing with the guys here, you really get into a groove before the season. I’m just really hungry to get something done this year.”

Brown, who is a marketing major, took classes in marketing and the history of the British Empire during his time in England. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to soak in the fanaticism that surrounds soccer in Europe.

“I took a weekend trip to Barcelona, and it was just amazing there,” Brown said. “The way that they love their FC Barcelona, their main team, is pretty crazy. If we had that [support] in America, [soccer] would be a lot more fun.”

Brown also said he enjoys watching international footballers and studying their play. He listed French international and current New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi among his favorites.

“Hopefully I can see him play with the Red Bulls sometime,” Brown said of Henry, who he described as “clinical.” “That’d be a dream of mine, to see him play in person.”
But right now, Brown hopes he’s created a few more soccer fans.

“I made a lot of new friends [in the London program], a lot of people that I probably would not have known,” Brown said. “I got some people to come to the game [against UNC]. Hopefully they’ll come back for some more games.”

Brown’s teammates and coaches certainly hope he’ll create a few more highlights for Irise fans.

“I think it’s exciting that he’s playing well, and I just hope that this continues right through,” Clark said. “And I’m sure it will, I’m confident Leon’s going to have a good senior year.”

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu