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Notre Dame 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Notre Dame
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
Coach – Bobby Clark (14th season) 
Background – The 2013 season was touted as the beginning of a new era at Notre Dame due primarily to the fact the Irish were slated to begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It turned out to be a new beginning in more ways than one.  The Irish made an immediate impact in the ACC winning a share of the regular season title with a 7-1-3 mark in conference play, they secured their first ever number one ranking in the national polls, they were awared the number three seed in the NCAA Tournament, they advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) for the first time in the history of the program, and capped off an outstanding season by winning their first national championship in men's soccer, completing an historic year with a 17-1-6 overall record.  Bobby Clark was named the NSCAA National Coach of the Year for the first time in his 27 seasons as a head coach and 13 seasons at the helm of the Notre Dame program. The NSCAA and College Soccer News named Fighting Irish forward Harrison Shipp a First Team All-American and central defender Grant Van De Casteele a Third Team All-American. The season refelected a total team effort but Shipp, in particular, had a banner season consistently making the big plays the Irish needed to come out on top. While Shipp entered the 2013 season as Notre Dame's top active scorer with eleven goals and fourteen assists during the previous three years it's unlikely that anyone predicted the type of season that the Irish captain would have in 2013 and the impact that he would have on Notre Dame's success. In addition to being named a First Team All-American, Shipp, who was a Third Team All-Big East selection in 2012, netted twelve goals and contributed ten assists in 2013, was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Herman Trophy. 
Offense – It is a given that Shipp's departure creates a void that must be filled. Midfielders Patrick Hodan (11g, 5a) and Evan Panken (5g,1a) and forwards Vince Cicciarelli (6g, 3a) and Leon Brown (5g, 3a) are among the likely candidates to do just that.  Senior Nick Besler (0g, 1a), a 2013 All-ACC First Team selection, will serve as the link between the defense and the attack and is the guy who will help set the pace for the season.  Besler, Hodan, Panken, Robby Gallegos (0g, 1a), Danny Lojek and Connor Klekota (1g, 3a) give the Irish a very solid group of retuning midfielders. Incoming freshmen midfielder Blake Townes and forward Jefrey Farina are among the newcomers who could add to the attack.   
Defense – The graduation of fifth year senior center back Van De Casteele creates a gap in talent as well in leadership that must be replaced.  However, center back Andrew O'Malley, and outside backs Max Lachowecki and Luke Mishu who were starters last year return to give the Irish an extremely solid and experienced backline. Sophomores Brandon Aubrey, Matt Habrowski, and Mark Mishu are among the returning players who will likely challenge for the vacant center back position. Incoming freshman Patrick Berneski could also challenge for playing time on the defensive side of the ball.  Fifth-year senior Patrick Wall who had a 0.71 goals against average last year with ten shoutouts returns to give the Irish a very talented and composed presence between the pipes.  

Newcomers –  Four Star Recruiting Class 

Coach Clark stated, "This is another very good class for us.  It's a class that we know very well."  He added, "But like I say with every class.  I'll tell you in three years just how good they really are."  

Patrick Berneski – Defender – Warrington, Pa.- Bucks South High School – Region I ODP team.  Played for Philadelphia Union Academy.  U.S. Youth Soccer Region 1 team.  2012 Pennsylvania All-State Team.  

Kyle Dedrick – Midfielder – Wilton, Connecticut – Wilton High School – Played for Beachside Soccer Club.  Netted 35 goals and contributed 30 assists in three season of high school play.  ODP State Team.  

Jeffrey Farina – Forward – Winnetka, Illinois – New Trier High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 83 player in the class of 2013.  Played for Chicago Fire Development Academy.  Illinois ODP team.  Three-year starter in high school.  Chicago Fire PDL guest plaver.

Jon Gallagher – Midfielder – Dundalk, Ireland – Greens Farms Academy – Played for the National England Schoolboys U-18 team.  Had trials with Juventus FC (Seria A), Olympique Marseille 9Grench Ligue 1), Newcastel United (Premier League) and Blackburn Rovers (Championship-England).

Max Hallwachs – Goalkeeper – Chagrin Falls, Ohio – Chagrin Falls High School – Played for Internationals SC in the USSDA.  Invited to U.S. National Team training center in Spring of 2012.  All-Chagrin Valley Conference First Team selection as a sophomore.  

Blake Townes – Midfielder – Canton, Michigan – Salem High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 50 player in the class of 2013.  Played for U-18 Crew Soccer Academy Wolves.  Best XI selected by US Soccer.  

Prognosis for 2014 – With nine starters slated to return the Irish will have a lot of familar faces on the pitch in 2014.  Shipp and Van De Casteele will be missed and the target that the Irish will have on their chests will no doubt be a little bigger due to winning the national championship.  However, the bottom line is that the Irish will be just fine on both sides of the ball. They will enter the 2014 season as the number one ranked team in the nation and clearly will be in the hunt for the ACC title.  It may be a lot to ask Notre Dame to repeat as national champions in 2014 but with the talent they return it remains a viable possiblity.  
Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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