The strengths for the
Notre Dame (Peoria, Ill.)
soccer program should be a lot different this season.
The Irish are hoping the results are the same.
One of Illinois' top programs, Notre Dame has a slightly different mix of players this season but will shoot to defend its Illinois High School Association 2A title. The Irish are one of 10 boys programs MaxPreps is featuring as national title Early Contenders, presented by adidas and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The Irish blasted their way through Illinois behind strong scoring. This season, though, the strength will be in defense, according to head coach Mike Bare. In six games at a summer showcase the team only allowed one goal, and the best returning players are in the back near the goal.
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"This team looks different than other teams I have coached at PND.
Instead of a large junior or senior class, we are spread out evenly
across the sophomore, junior and senior classes. We are a little young
and inexperienced in some areas, but extremely committed and hard
working," Bare said. "I see this being a group that will greatly improve as the
The top goal scorer coming back only tallied seven last season (the top four scorers last season combined for 86) so that experienced defense will be pivotal early on.
In Illinois, Notre Dame has consistently been a state title contender and also gets strong consideration in the national title race. The Irish will get a shot to show off their talents and try to give their state some bragging rights in the Gateway City Classic, one of the nation's most prestigious events.
Opponents there will see the same school - but a different set of strengths than last year.
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Local look: "
The Irish lost two-thirds of their starting lineup to graduation from the Class 2A state championship team, which was ranked seventh nationally in the NSCAA poll. But the Irish, who have fielded the last five Journal Star Players of the Year, always reload. All-area defender Grayson McGraw will lead their quest in 2013 for a fourth state title in six years. The Irish also will try to duplicate their 2012 feat of going unbeaten against Illinois teams."- Peoria Journal-Star sports (@pjstarsports)