There is a long history behind the Hoyas’ matchup this Sunday against Big East giant Notre Dame. More than 15 years’ worth of that history, however, has more to do with the men on the sidelines rather than those on the pitch.

In 1991, Scotland native Bobby Clark – then-head coach of the men’s soccer team at Dartmouth – recruited the younger brother of one of his players to the Big Green. The young goalkeeper by the name of Brian Wiese probably had no idea at the time that a decade and a half later, he would be Clark’s equal on the pitch.

After taking Wiese under his wing for three years, Clark left Dartmouth and set his sights Down Under, coaching the New Zealand national team for a two-year stint. Meanwhile, Wiese completed his senior year at Dartmouth as team captain and graduated in 1995 with a degree in engineering.

Clark eventually returned to the United States when Wiese was working in San Diego, Calif. as a chemical engineer. Clark stayed with the Wiese family in New Mexico while he was looking for coaching jobs, and Wiese was simultaneously searching in California for graduate schools where he could further his education. The lucky break for both men came when Wiese went back home for the weekend to see his family while Clark was still there – Stanford had made a coaching offer to the Scotsman just as Wiese received his acceptance letter into the school’s engineering program for the fall of 1996.

Both men accepted Stanford’s offers. Then Clark made an offer of his own to Wiese – to help out as an assistant coach while pursuing his master’s degree. It was the beginning of what would eventually become a permanent occupation for the former goalkeeper and current Georgetown coach.

“Long story short,” Wiese says, “I got my master’s degree in engineering while I was helping out in Stanford with Bobby, and I decided, you know what, my passion lies in coaching. I decided to drop my engineering degree at the door and just take up coaching as a career.”

Wiese stayed on with the Stanford soccer team after graduating from the engineering program, gaining valuable experience as an apprentice to the nationally recognized coach.

But in 2000, Wiese’s wife Becky became pregnant with their first child, and the assistant coach had to concede to the realities of family life and the cost of living in cosmopolitan California. Wiese told Clark that under the circumstances, he couldn’t stay at Stanford past the 2001 season. Just three weeks later, Clark called Wiese to tell him that he was about to accept an offer from Notre Dame, and asked if he’s like to go along, once again, as an assistant coach.

“South Bend is a 180-degree turn from San Francisco,” Wiese says, “and I ended up going out with Bobby to Notre Dame. It was terrific.”

After spending another five years at Clark’s side, Wiese was offered the opportunity to step out of the shoes of an assistant and into the position of head coach at Georgetown. Wiese finally stepped out from under Clark’s wing and spread his own, accepting the Hoyas’ offer in May 2006 and switching allegiances from the Green and Gold to the Blue and Gray.

In Wiese’s first return to South Bend, Ind., in 2006, Clark’s Fighting Irish sent him home with a 4-1 loss. Wiese and the Hoyas fought to a scoreless draw last year on North Kehoe Field against the Irish. On Sunday, Wiese will return once again to what was once his home pitch to take on the Irish.

“It’s the one game all year that is a very difficult game for me because I root for Bobby and the Notre Dame guys very fully every other game of the year,” Wiese says. “And this is the one I root very, very hard for them to lose.”

Clark agrees with his former assistant.

“Is he going to beat up on an old fellow?” Clark jokes, “Ask him, is he is going to beat up on his old mentor? It’s always a little strange. It’s one of these things where once the game starts, he’ll be wanting to win and we’ll also be wanting to win.”

Having coached together for more than 10 years, both Wiese and Clark will undoubtedly bring a lot of the same tactics to the table.

“We work with very similar models,” Wiese says. “As a coach, I’m a strong believer in a lot of the same principles as Bobby. So we’ll end up playing very, very similar styles of soccer as the Notre Dame guys. The challenge every year is going to be who does it a little better.”

Wiese says that his team will play a similar style to Notre Dame. The difference, he says, will be which team can execute better.

“I think there will be similarities for sure, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the players,” Clark says. “There’s Lady Luck as well, but by and large players will make the difference.”

Wiese says that the Hoyas won’t be making a lot of changes despite the familiarity between the two teams. “I have a lot of confidence in the guys and in what we’re doing,” he says. “For the most part, I feel that you shouldn’t make a lot of changes for the opponent.”

The quality of play on both sides will undoubtedly be the ultimate decider of the match. Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in the nation, while the Hoyas are 21 positions below. Notre Dame has the offensive advantage, scoring 23 goals so far compared to the Hoyas’ 14, but defensively, the Hoyas stand above the Fighting Irish, conceding just four goals while Notre Dame has let in 11.

At the end of the day, no matter which team triumphs over the other, Wiese’s three years as a player and 10 as a coach alongside Clark will still be a larger part in the history between the Irish and the Hoyas.

“I am a soccer coach because of Bobby Clark,” Wiese says. “In my opinion, he’s the best coach in the country, and very much my mentor on and off the field.”

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