The BR-6 Notre Dame soccer team heads into the 2016 season with a wealth of experience, but without two key cogs who led the team to an 11-5-6 record and a third round appearance in the NCAA D1 Men's Soccer Tournament last season. Hermann Trophy candidate Patrick Hogan and fellow midfielder Connor Klekota are gone. As is defender Max Lachowecki, who was selected with the 25th pick of the MLS SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake.
With multiple fifth-year players on the roster, and a couple instant-impact freshman joining the ranks, expect the Fighting Irish to be contenders in the hotly-contested ACC title race.
Notre Dame midfielder Evan Panken tracks the ball against UNC (Courtesy of Reagan Lunn/Notre Dame Athletics)
Head Coach: Bobby Clark
2015 Finish: 11-5-6 (lost in the NCAA Tournament third round to Maryland, 2-1)
Key Returners: Chris Hubbard (GK), Michael Shipp (OB), Brandon Aubrey (IB), Matt Habrowski (IB), Evan Panken (MF), Jeffrey Farina (F), Jon Gallagher (F), Thomas Ueland (MF/F).
Games to Watch: Oct. 8 vs. Wake Forest and Oct. 28 vs. North Carolina
Key Newcomer: Tommy McCabe – an early enrollee in January who took part in the U.S. Soccer residency program.
What Else? Team captains Evan Panken (pictured above), Michael Shipp and Matt Habrowski are all in their first year as leaders of the program, but each has stepped up and proved to be a crucial cog in the Notre Dame wheel. Look for a big season from keeper Chris Hubbard, as well, who was one of the top goalies in the country last season.