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Sports

Ian Aschieris enters into his final season at Notre Dame as a captain

| Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Being the top returning scorer on an elite college soccer program can certainly affect a player’s mindset, increasing the pressure they put on themselves as they try to perform at a higher level.

Thankfully for the Notre Dame men’s soccer team, however, graduate student and captain Ian Aschieris has no such issues, maintaining a team-first approach to his game that has paid off in the early going for the Irish.

After graduating their top two scorers, Aschieris returned to this year’s squad with five career goals all coming in his senior season. Through four games, he has not found the back of the net. However, Aschieris has distributed the ball, leading the team with three assists and propelling the Irish to prolific offensive outputs game after game. Through four games, the team has racked up 10 goals total.

“The expectations of scoring goals doesn’t fall on one person,” Aschieris said. “We’re doing it together. I haven’t scored a goal yet, but [sophomore forward] Jack Lynn has four, [junior midfielder] Aiden [McFadden] has two. So we’re making things happen up front. I don’t feel too much pressure to be the leading goal scorer. As long as we’re getting results and winning games, that’s all that matters.”

After tallying three goals as a freshman, Lynn has already surpassed that total this season with a goal in each contest.

“With Jack playing the way he is, that’s pretty impressive,” Aschieris said. “It gives you a certain confidence, just knowing that you can make things happen and score goals … [but] I don’t think we are dependent on him to score goals.”

Aschieris knows a little about rising into the spotlight. After red-shirting his freshman year, he played a total of 19 matches over his sophomore and junior years, recording neither a goal nor an assist over that span. However, he broke through in his senior season, playing in every single game and starting in 17 of those matches. He came through in the clutch several times for the Irish, notching a game-winning assist sent to Thomas Ueland in a contest against Pittsburgh and scoring twice in an ACC tournament victory over Clemson.

“I red-shirted freshman year, and I saw some games sophomore year, but not as many minutes as I wanted,” Aschieris said. “I started to earn my starting spot junior year. I was just trying to stay consistent and do some extra things outside of practice. That’s been super helpful from a leadership perspective because I’ve been in every position as a player.”

Although Aschieris helped the Irish eliminate Clemson last year, the Tigers returned to South Bend with a vengeance, toppling Notre Dame 4-2 and sending the 11th-ranked Irish to their first defeat of the year. After victories over Saint Louis, Seattle, and Denver to start the year, the Clemson game served as a rude awakening call, and the schedule isn’t getting any easier.

In the next 10 days, Notre Dame takes on No. 4 Indiana, who vanquished the Irish in the quarterfinals last year; No. 6 Virginia, who fell to Notre Dame in the Round of 16; No. 18 North Carolina and Michigan State, who reached the College Cup semifinals last year.

“They’re definitely important games — we like playing a hard schedule,” Aschieris said. “It’s not necessarily that we lost a game, so we need to make a statement. We just need to grow and learn from the things that we failed to do against Clemson, which will allow us to grow in the future. So it’s how we can learn from what happened against Clemson to be at our best at the end of the season.”

Talks of the end of the season certainly bring to mind the expectations for the year. While Aschieris keeps a level head when discussing his personal expectations, not trying to reach for gaudy statistics, his expectations for his team are certainly high. It’s why he left the warmth of Southern California, where most of his family had attended USC, to further his soccer career in South Bend.

While Bobby Clark — the former Irish head coach who Aschieris referred to as an “amazing person and role model” — certainly played a role in Aschieris’ decision, so did the “faith-based education and #1 ranked business school in the country.”

“At the end of the day, they’re a really good soccer program,” Aschieris said on the Irish. “They had just won the national championship [in 2013].”

While last year was a good run, Aschieris is striving for more this season, reaching for the elite standard that drew him to Notre Dame in the first place.

“We want to win a national championship,” he said. “That’s the standard we set for ourselves.”

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