The Notre Dame Fighting Irish enter another season on the pitch looking for their 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in 19 seasons. They begin the season as the #9 team in the nation, according to the United Soccer Coaches Poll. Head coach Chad Riley led the team to an 11-7-3 overall record (4-3-1 in ACC play) in 2018 and an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The road past that point will be incredibly difficult once again this year with eight opponents ranked in the top 25 on the schedule. Five of those games are also on the road. Also included in the schedule are several other opponents who can never be taken lightly in college soccer. Ten of Notre Dame’s 2019 opponents qualified for the NCAA Championship last season.
In short, it’s going to be a tough, but entertaining season for the Irish.
Ian Aschieris - Notre Dame’s top returning goal scorer from last season, the senior forward leads the offensive attack in 2019.
Felicien Dumas - The grad student defender plays a pivotal role this team. He had six assists in 2018, which put him in the top ten in the ACC. The set piece specialist was named a third team All-ACC player last season.
Duncan Turnbull - The Irish’s likely starting keeper had strong campaign in 2018 coming on in the latter part of the year. Given the amount of good offensive teams that Notre Dame will face this year and the fact that Ryan Krutz has moved on, his success is vital to his team’s.
Full Schedule (Times EST)
At St. Louis - Aug. 31 - 8 PM
Seattle University - Sep. 6 - 7 PM
Denver - Sep. 8 - 7 PM
Clemson - Sep. 13 - 7 PM
At Indiana - Sep. 17 - 7 PM
At North Carolina - Sep. 20 - 6 PM
At Michigan State - Sep. 24 - 7 PM
Virginia - Sep. 27 - 7 PM
Depaul - Oct. 1 - 7 PM
At NC State - Oct. 4 - 6 PM
Purdue Fort Wayne - Oct. 8 - 7 PM
Duke - Oct. 11 - 6 PM
At VA Tech - Oct. 18 - 5:30 PM
Michigan - Oct. 22 - 7 PM
At Wake Forest - Oct. 26 - 7 PM
Pittsbugh - Nov. 1 - 7 PM
ACC Tournament (Cary, N.C.) - Nov. 5 through Nov. 17
Indiana - The Hoosiers are obviously a familiar foe for the Irish, but it doesn’t take away from the game’s significance. Indiana start the year as the #2 team in the nation after winning the Big Ten last season and reaching the national semifinals where they lost to eventual champion Maryland. The Irish also have an opportunity to get revenge on the Hoosiers in Bloomington on Sep. 17 after IU knocked Notre Dame out of the postseason in 2018.
Michigan State - MSU start the season as the #7 team in the nation and host the Irish on September 24th. Senior midfielder Giuseppe Barone and redshirt-junior defender Patrick Nielsen are both on the MAC Hermann Trophy watchlist, which is given to the NCAA’s most outstanding individual player at the beginning of the season. This game comes at a brutal time for the Irish at the end of at three-game road trip that also includes Indiana and North Carolina.
North Carolina - The #6 Tar Heels are the favorite to win the ACC this season according to the league’s head coaches. Midfielder/defender Mauricio Pineda also has a shot at the MAC Hermann Trophy. On the offensive side of the ball, the Tar Heels always seem to bring a decent amount of firepower and will no doubt be a challenge when they host the Irish on Sept. 20th.
Wake Forest - In the United Soccer Coaches’ preseason poll, Wake Forest is the highest ranked ACC team. This is well deserved on the performance of senior midfielder Bruno Lapa. The Brazilian was a first-team All-American, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, and the ACC midfielder of the year in 2018. They provide an intriguing road test for Irish on October 26th.
The Irish were a very solid defensive team in 2018. They had one of the lower goals-against totals in all of DI with 20. The goal to going a bit further as a team in 2019 seems to lie in generating more offense. The Irish were a bit of a middle of the road team offensively with 30 goals scored, despite 108 corner kicks. That being said, it’s hard to imagine the Irish don’t reach the NCAA Tournament once again this season given how they’ve been able to deal with schedules of a similar difficulty and the past.