|School: Notre Dame
|Conference: Atlantic Coast
|Coach: Chad Riley – 1st season
|Final 2017 Season Ending Rank: 18 United Soccer Coaches, 21 CSN
|2017 Record: 11-7-2 overall, 3-3-2 in conference
Five Year Win Total:
|Key Personnel Losses from 2017 Team: Forwards Jon Gallagher and Jeff Farina, midfielder Kyle Dedrick, defender Matt Habrowski, and goalkeeper Chris Hubbard due to graduation.
|2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed: Thirty goals scored, twenty allowed
|2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.50 scored, 1.00 allowed
|2017 Key Statistic: Jon Gallagher and Jeff Farina accounted for 21 of the 30 goals the Irish scored.
Background: Chad Riley assumes the head coaching role replacing legendary Irish head coach Bobby Clark who retired after seventeen very successful seasons at the helm of the program.
It is impossible to overstate how much Clark, who became the Irish head coach in 2001, meant to Notre Dame and to those he coached while there. Under Clark, Notre Dame became a consistent winner on the national scene. Notre Dame compiled a winning record every season he was at the helm of the program, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament sixteen out of the last seventeen seasons, was awarded one of the top sixteen seeds in the NCAA Tournament twelve times, and won the national championship in 2013.
Notre Dame has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament a total of twenty times. They won the Big East Tournament title twice and the Big East regular season title three times before joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013. They secured a share of the ACC regular-season title in 2013 and the ACC Coastal Division title in 2014.
In 2017 forward Jon Gallagher was named a First Team All-American by College Soccer News and a SecondTeam All-American by the United Soccer Coaches. Gallagher was named an All-ACC 2017 First Team selection and forward Jeff Farina was named to the All-ACC Third Team.
|Number Starters Slated to Return in 2018: Six
Patrick Coleman – Defender – Antioch, Illinois – Antioch Community High School – Played with Chicago Magic Academy FC and FC United. Team captain at Antioch.
Ben Giacobello – Midfielder – San Clemente, California – San Clemente High School – Played with Strikers FC Academy. Two-time invitee to the U.S. Soccer Training Center.
Sam Guinane – Goalkeeper – San Juan Capistrano, California – JSerra Catholic High School – Four year starter in high school. Played for West Coast FC.
Jack Lynn – Forward – St. Louis, Missouri – Chaminade College Preparatory – Played with Saint Louis Scott Gallagher. Scored forty-six goals during three seasons in high school.
Mohamed Omar – Midfielder – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Berkshire School – Named MVP of the High School Soccer All-America game. All-New England All-Star. All-New England Best XI.
Philip Quinton – Defender – Portland, Oregon – Grant High School – First Team All-Conference. Second Team All-State. Played with FC Portland Academy.
Tyler Shea – Forward – Dallas, Texas – Jesuit College Preparatory School – Played for Dallas Texans Soccer Club.
Bryan Silver – Midfielder – Herndon, Virginia – Oakton High School – First-Team All-Region. All-District. Played for Loudoun 99 Red.
Outlook for 2018 Season: The Chad Riley era begins in 2018. Riley comes to South Bend with an impressive resume that includes a very successful five year tenure as the head coach at Dartmouth where he directed the Big Green to the Ivy League title the past four seasons. He also has the advantage of having played under Bobby Clark at Notre Dame from 2001 through 2003 so he is no stranger to the program which may shorten the inherent transition period that always takes place when there is a change in head coaches.
The Irish will have to acclimate quickly in 2018 to a brand new coaching staff and they will have to do it in the very competitive Atlantic Coast Conference where the margin for error is small.
Riley faces the immediate challenge of replacing forwards Jon Gallagher (13g, 2a) and Jeff Farina (8g, 7a) on the offensive side of the ball and center back Matt Habrowski and goalkeeper Chris Hubbard who anchored the defense.
Gallagher and Farina were responsible for twenty-one of the thirty goals the Irish scored last year including eight game winners. The fact that senior defender Felicien Dumas (3g, 8a), graduate student midfielder Blake Townes (2g, 2a) and senior midfielder Thomas Ueland (2g, 2a) are the only returning players who found the back of the net last year means that offensive productivity in 2018 is a big unknown at this point in time.
Townes, Ueland, junior Jack Casey (0g, 5a) and junior Tommy McCabe (0g, 1a) who were starters last year return in the midfield to give Riley a very solid necleus upon which to build.
Seniors Dumas, Patrick Berneski Sean Dedrick who were starters last year return to anchor the backline. Junior Senan Farrelly who saw action in ten contests last year and junior Spencer Farina who appeared in three contests in 2017 are among other returning defenders who will seek to play a greater role in 2018.
The departure of fifth-year senior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard who was the starter for three seasons means that a new face will be between the pipes in 2018. Returning goalkeepers include senior Ryan Krutz, junior Duncan Turnbull, and sophomore Keagan McLaughlin.
Riley has his work cut out for him on both sides of the ball heading into the 2018 campaign. In order for everything to come together some new playmakers will need to quickly develop to fill the gaps. Chances are pretty good that the play on the defensive side of the ball particularly in goal will prove to be the key factor in the early going and will set the pace while the offense gels and a go-to player or two emerges.
The bottom line is that Notre Dame will enter the 2018 season a bit of a mystery due to the key gaps that must be filled and the fact that they will be under new management.
The Irish traditionally play a very competitive schedule right out of the gate. As a result it will likely not take long to get a pretty good idea just how competitive they will be in 2018. A good start would be a huge plus.
Granted, Notre Dame has some key shoes to fill. However, this is a program that has consistently been very good and reloaded effectively in the past. Expectations will remain high and the bar will not be lowered. So in the event that the Irish do take a step backward in 2018, it will not be a big one and it will be a temporary one.