Irish eyes on showdown with No. 1 UCLA

[MEN'S PREVIEW] Notre Dame will open the 2007 campaign Friday at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic when the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish face No. 1 UCLA.

It was at last year's tournament in Bloomington that Joseph Lapira scored four goals in a 5-4 win over Indiana, beginning his remarkable campaign that resulted in his being named the Soccer America Player of the Year and Hermann Trophy winner.

Notre Dame, which meets No. 7 Maryland on Sunday, is coming off a hot preseason during which it topped No. 18 New Mexico and No. 16 Northwestern by identical 3-0 scores.

Lapira, who is back for his senior season after earning a surprise cap for Ireland in May, scored the third goal against Northwestern. Another senior forward, Kurt Martin, led the Irish with three goals during the preseason.

History isn't on Notre Dame's side against UCLA. The Irish have lost all three meetings with the Bruins and are 0-5-0 in meetings with No. 1 teams.

"This is a great opportunity for us to play against one of the best teams in the country," said Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark. " It's an opportunity to take the program to a new height by playing the No. 1 team. It will also show us where we stand at this point of the season."

Clark added that his players have to be careful not to read too much into the preseason results.

"I felt we put together some good combinations and we were able to get a feel for one another," he said. "You need to play games to get ready for the season and it was good to win them."

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