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Notre Dame 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – Notre Dame
Conference – Atlantic Coast
Coach – Bobby Clark (15th Season)
Background – Under the direction of Bobby Clark Notre Dame has become one of the nation's most consistently successful programs as reflected in the fact that the Irish were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2014 and the number three seed in 2013. Notre Dame was 12-5-4 overall in 2014 with a 6-1-1 mark in conference play. They won the ACC Coastal Division Championship, were ranked as the number one team in the country for a portion of the 2014 season, and were awarded the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish subsequently topped Ohio State 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament but their season came to an end in the Sweet Sixteen when they were upset at home 1-0 by eventual National Champion Virgina. Notre Dame has earned a total of seventeen invites to the NCAA Tournament with thirteen of them coming during the fourteen years that Clark has been at the helm of the program. The Irish have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament on seven occassions and to the Elite Eight on three. In 2013 they advanced to the Final Four and won the National Championship for the first time in the history of the program.  In 2014 midfielder Patrick Hodan was named an NSCAA and College Soccer News First-Team All-American and midfielder Nick Besler was named a Second Team All-American by both the NSCAA and College Soccer News. Hodan was named the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year and an All-ACC First Team selection.  Besler was also an All-ACC First Team member. Defender Luke Mishu was a 2014 All-ACC Second Team selection. Defender Andrew O'Malley and goalkeeper Patrick Wall were All-ACC Third Team honorees. Forwards Jeffrey Farina and Jon Gallagher were named to the 2014 ACC All-Rookie Team. 
Offense – Any discussion of the Notre Dame offense should begin with All-American senior outside midfielder Patrick Hodan who led the Irish in scoring last year with nine goals. Hodan, who was the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is a prime timer with big play ability as reflected in the fact that he netted five game-winning goals last year. Sophomores Jeffrey Farina (2g, 7a) and Jon Gallagher (3g, 3a) return to power the attack up-top. Both gained valuable playing time last year that should help prepare them for an even greater role in 2015 and help fill the void that exists due to the loss of Leon Brown (7g, 1a) and Vince Cicciarelli (2g, 0a). Senior center midfielder Connor Klekota (1g, 4a) who is a solid box to box player and senior outside midfielder Evan Panken (4g, 6a) who were starters last year return to add diversity to the attack. Junior Oliver Harris and sophomore Blake Townes are among other center midfielders who look to be in the mix as well as redshirt freshman outside midfielder Kyle Dedrick.     
Defense – The departure of fifth year senior backs Luke Mishu and Andrew O'Malley and goalkeeper Patrick Wall who was a three-year starter between the pipes for the Irish creates gaps that must be filled. Junior center backs Brandon Aubrey (3g, 0a) and Matt Habrowski (1g, 0a) return to anchor the backline along with outside back Max Lachowecki who is a fifth-year senior. Sophomore center back Patrick Berneski and outside backs senior Michael Shipp, junior Mark Mishu, and senor Danny Lojek also figure to be in the mix. Senior Brian Talcott and junior Chris Hubbard will battle for the starting spot in goal. Both played well during the spring season. Freshman Ryan Krutz who was the starting netminder for Sporting Kansas City Academy should also compete for playing time between the pipes. A final decision regarding who will prevail in the derby for the starting goalkeeper job could hinge on the play during Notre Dame's three preseason contests. 

Newcomers –  Three and a Half Star Recruting Class  

Coach Clark stated, "Obviously at the moment we think it's a great class. As I always say, I'll tell you in three or four years just how good of a class it really is. We like all of these players and they all made a big impression on us sometime over the last couple of years. They also made a good impression on admissions as well so they've done well academically. On paper, it looks like a really good class and it's a group that we're really excited about."

Ian Aschieris – Forward – Solana Beach, California – Torrey Pines High School – Played for the Surf Academy Soccer during his junior and senoir years of high school. Attended Santa Fe Christian High as a freshman and was All-Coastal League selection. Played for Torrey Pines High School as a sophomore. 

Myles Brown – Midfielder – Richmond, Virginia – St. Christopher's High School – A two-way midfielder for Richmond United U-18 Academy. 

Sean Dedrick – Midfielder – Wilton, Connecticut – Wilton High School – Played for Beachside Soccer Club. U.S. U-18 National Team Pool in 2014. All-Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference selection in high school. 

Felicien Dumas – Midfielder – Tokyo, Japan – United World College of South East Asia (Singapore) – Three-time MVP of the U-19A South East Asia Student Activity Conference and Athletic Conference of Singapore International Schools. Played for Home United FC. Left sided player.

Ryan Krutz – Goalkeeper – Norman, Oklahoma – Blue Valley North – Played for Sporting Kansas City Academy

Sean MacLeod – Midfielder – Troon, Scotland – Marr College – Played for the Troon Juniors. Four year starter in high school.

Thomas Ueland – Midfielder – Lexington, Kentucky – Henry Clay High School – 2014 NSCAA High School All-American. Played for Lexington FC 97 White Premier. NSCAA Kentucky Player of the Year. First Team All-State selection. 

Prognosis for 2015 – After the best two year run in the history of the program, Notre Dame with enter the 2015 season with some gaps to plug due to the loss of several very experienced key personnel. Bobby Clark will have plenty of talent to work with, but depth and experience are still questions. On paper, it appears the Irish may have a difficult time matching the level of success they have enjoyed the past two seasons, but you can't count out a Clark coached team. At Notre Dame under Clark's guidance the whole has always been greater than the sum of the individual parts.  The Irish will again have one of the most challenging schedules in the country with tough contests right out of the gate with Maryland and Indiana in the IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington. Notre Dame will likely experience a bit of a learning curve in the early going but if everything falls into place they will once again be a very competitive side. Just how competitive in terms of national standing remains to be seen.  Sophomores Jeffrey Farina and Jon Gallagher have the potential to be very effective up-top. Both had impressive rookie seasons but they are by no means proven commodities. Notre Dame will be without the services of center midfielder Nick Besler (1g, 2a) due to graduation. Besler did a lot of things well and brought the type value to the pitch that is not easy to replace. However, on the plus side of the ledger a solid group of linkmen return and the Irish boast one of the nation's top midfielders in senior Patrick Hodan who is a proven commodity. Hodan is poised for another special season but will not doubt be a very tightly marked man.  Backs Brandon Aubrey, Matt Habrowski, and Max Lachowecki provide the necleus of what should be a very good backline. Notre Dame has thrived under Clark's leadership and should once again win a lot of games in 2015. A good case could be made that no one in the country does a better job of developing the talents of his players and getting them to work together as a team than Clark. However, the Irish will enter the 2015 season with several unansered questions based on inexperience at a couple of key positions, but there is also a great degree of confidence among those in the program based on the level of success in recent years.   


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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