Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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74 PRESEASON 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY DAVID MCKINNEY T he fall season of Olympic sports at Notre Dame is starting, and the Irish teams will soon begin their quest for championships. Here is a preview of Notre Dame fall sports — men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, and volleyball. MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY FIRST EVENT: Aug. 31, Crusader Open in Valparaiso Ind. ACC PREDICTED FINISH: 5th-7th NCAA BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Regionals COACH'S EXPECTATIONS: Under the di- rection of newly promoted head coach Matt Sparks, Notre Dame landed the No. 2 distance recruit- ing class in the country according to FloTrack. "We struggled the last couple years to be where we want to be, but [assistant coach] Sean Carlson has led the charge for our men's team and our men's recruiting," Sparks noted. TOP RUNNER: Sophomore Yared Nu- guse will look to continue his early success at Notre Dame. As a fresh- man, Nuguse had the squad's high- est finish at the ACC Championships, tying for 23rd. "He battled for a top spot last year, and he grew a lot during the indoor and outdoor track season," Sparks said. "He's learned a lot about how to compete on a national stage over the last 12 months, and I expect him to carry a lot of the weight leading the way for the young guys. "He's still a young guy, too, but with the experience he has we expect him to bring a lot of confidence to the program." ATHLETES TO WATCH: Notre Dame signed a big-time recruiting class in 2018, in- cluding Dylan Jacobs, the 2017 Foot Locker High School Cross Country Nationals champion, and Danny Kil- rea, who took third at the Footlocker national meet. "We expect big things out of those guys for years to come," the excited Sparks said. DON'T MISS: On Sept. 14, Notre Dame will host the National Catholic Invi- tational. WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY FIRST EVENT: Aug. 31, Crusader Open in Valparaiso Ind. ACC PREDICTED FINISH: Top 3 NCAA BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Nationals COACH'S EXPECTATIONS: "On paper, this is one of the most talented wom- en's team Notre Dame has had in a long time," head coach Matt Sparks said. "We've got a couple good se- nior leaders to go along with Anna Rohrer. You compliment that with some really good freshmen [the in- coming group was ranked as the No. 3 distance class nationally], and there are a lot of expectations. "We still have work to do before the national meets. We'd like to chal- lenge for an ACC championship. We'd like to build up on the tradition of the program." TOP RUNNER: Local product Rohrer of Mishawaka, a senior with junior eligibility in cross country, was the runner-up at the ACC Champion- ships as a true freshman in 2015 and won the league title as a sophomore before missing last season with an injury. She earned All-America honors both seasons, placing sixth at the NCAA Championships as a fresh- man and taking third the next year. "She's back healthy and had a great summer," Sparks said. "When you've got someone like that leading the way for you, you can't go wrong. "She's a high school national champion, and we're super excited to have her around for another year, and hopefully two." A T H L E T E T O W A T C H : J a c q u e l i n e Gaughan, a freshman from Exeter, N.H., comes to Notre Dame follow- ing a fifth-place finish in the 2017 Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships. "She's one of the top two milers in the country and one of the top seniors this past spring," Sparks said. DON'T MISS: Notre Dame will host the National Catholic Invitational Sept. 14. MEN'S SOCCER FIRST EVENT: Aug. 24 vs. Saint Louis ACC PREDICTED FINISH: 6th PRESEASON NATIONAL RANKING: No. 17 NCAA BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Sweet 16 COACH'S EXPECTATIONS: For the first time in 17 seasons, Notre Dame men's soccer will be under new lead- ership in 2018. Following the retire- ment of longtime head coach Bobby Clark, whose team won a NCAA title in 2013, the Irish announced the hir- ing of former Dartmouth coach Chad Riley, a 2004 Notre Dame graduate. Riley played for Clark and spent six seasons as an assistant under him, so the mindset of the team is much of the same. "The expectation for Notre Dame is always to win championships, and that's ours now," Riley said. "It's al- ways the goal to win a title in your league and win a national champion- ship. Those are the expectations that drive us." TOP PLAYERS: Riley noted that much of Notre Dame's success will depend on the play of the senior class. "We'v e got good leadersh ip from the seniors," Riley explained. "They're a little bit unproven, but it's one of those years where they have to go out and prove it. "In the end, you hope you can look back and see more people scored more goals because more people took the initiative." ATHLETES TO WATCH: "There's a good group that didn't play last year, and Fall Teams Have High Expectations Two-time cross country All-American Anna Rohrer will lead a promising Irish team this fall. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA

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