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Men’s Soccer: ND hosts four-team tourney

Matt Gamber | Friday, September 5, 2008

No. 8 Notre Dame will host the seventh annual Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament this weekend in memory of the late Irish coach who died suddenly in January 2000.

The Irish (1-1-0) play Dartmouth at 7:30 tonight and No. 5 South Florida Sunday at 2 p.m. No. 3 Indiana, who hosted but did not play Notre Dame in last weekend’s adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, completes the four-team field.

“They’re both tournament teams the last couple years,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It should be two very testing games. Quite different games, but both will be challenging for sure.”

The Irish have never played Dartmouth, where Clark coached from 1985-1993. The Big Green return their top three scorers from last year’s 11-4-3 team, including senior Craig Henderson, who competed in the Summer Olympics with New Zealand. He led the team with six goals and four assists last year.

South Florida, like Notre Dame, competes in the Big East conference, but the two are not scheduled to play each other in the regular season. Sunday’s match will not count toward conference standings.

The Bulls shut out Bowling Green 3-0 in their season opener Aug. 30, receiving goals from Zak Boggs, Jordan Seabrook and Bernardo Anor. Returning nine starters from a team that advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championships, South Florida was picked to win the Big East Red Division.

“Dartmouth is always one of the top teams in the Ivy League,” Clark said. “USF will be different: they’re very athletic and have a great Caribbean flavor about them.”

The Irish will look to start this weekend on a better note than last, when they fell to No. 12 Akron 3-0 on Friday night in Bloomington, Ind. Notre Dame, then-ranked No. 3, rebounded to beat Duke 4-1 Sunday.

“We didn’t play so very badly on Friday, but the goals came Sunday,” Clark said. “If you could find the magic formula to that, it’d be easy.”

Senior forward Bright Dike led the Irish charge against Duke, scoring two goals for his first career multi-goal game. Junior midfielder Justin Morrow scored Notre Dame’s first goal – a crucial one, Clark said.

“It’s very important to get the first goal,” he said. “When Akron got the first goal, we had to open up to get back in the game and that gave them space to give us a tough time and score some goals – and it was the opposite against Duke. The first goal is always very important – if you don’t get it, you’ve got to chase it carefully.”

The Irish hope to avoid that chase by taking the advantage from the opening kick-off – right after Nino Berticelli, the son of the tournament’s namesake and a 1999 Notre Dame graduate, makes a ceremonial opening kick-off. Berticelli was an assistant coach for the Irish in 2000, the year after his father’s passing and before Clark took the helm.

Notre Dame will next hit the field with its Big East opener, Sept. 11 at home against Marquette.