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IRISH earn No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament

Nov 13, 2012, 1:01 PM EST

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the first time in program history the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team is the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish received a first-round bye and will play host to Cleveland State or Michigan State on Sunday in the second round. The time of the match has not been determined.

Notre Dame will be making its 15th appearance in the NCAA Championship. This signified the seventh time in which the Fighting Irish earned one of the 16national seeds in the 48-team field. Notre Dame’s best seed prior to this season was No. 5 in 2003 and 2004.

“Getting the No. 1 seed is a nice reward for the players for the work they’ve done during the regular season,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “Being No. 1 at the end of the regular season is special and no one can take that away from us, but we know the playoffs are a different animal.”

Notre Dame is 10-13-1 all-time in the NCAA Championship, including a 9-9-1 record under Clark. Clark has led the Fighting Irish to the NCAA Championship in 11 of his 12 seasons at Notre Dame. He has guided the Irish to the Round of 16 on four occasions and the quarterfinals twice.

In their last NCAA Championship appearance, the ninth-seeded Irish fell to Dartmouth, 2-1 in overtime, in the second round of the 2010 tournament.

The Fighting Irish captured the BIG EAST Championship title yesterday with a 3-2 double-overtime win over Georgetown in Chester, Pa. Notre Dame is 16-3-1 overall and went 5-2-1 in BIG EAST play. The Irish will carry a seven-game unbeaten streak into the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame is 8-0 at home this season.

“Outside of getting a home game, seeding means very little once the tournament begins,” said Clark. “We have to be prepared and ready to play and I believe we will.

“Having the top seed is like winning the BIG EAST, you have to put it on the shelf for now and focus on the tournament. We now have to move on because it’s not about what people say about you, it’s about what you do.”

Michigan State (11-9-1) will play host to Cleveland State (11-5-3) at 1 p.m. (ET) on Thursday. The Irishdefeated Michigan State, 2-0, on Sept. 14 at Alumni Stadium.

Eight BIG EAST Conference teams, including five seeded squads, earned berths into the NCAA Championship field. Georgetown (#3 seed), Connecticut (#4), Marquette (#7), Louisville (#10), St. John’s, Syracuse and USF joined Notre Dame in the field.

The Fighting Irish faced 10 schools, including six seeded teams, that qualified for this year’s tournament and they posted a 9-3-1 mark against those opponents.

The NCAA Championship will get underway Thursday with first-round matchups, while second-round contests will take place Sunday. Third-round games are slated for Nov. 25 and the quarterfinals will take place Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2. The 2012 NCAA College Cup will be held at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. The national semifinals and final are scheduled for Dec. 7 and the final will take place Dec. 9.

For more information on the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship, including a full bracket, go to NCAA.com. For ticket information, call the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356, visit UND.com/tickets or stop by the Notre Dame ticket office inside Purcell Pavilion.

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