WE HAVE ARRIVED!
The Irish landed in London Heathrow at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, March 9 after a seven and a half hour flight from Chicago to get the foreign tour officially underway. The team fought off a case of jet lag and made the two-hour trek to England's southern coast to watch Southampton host Tottenham in a Premier League fixture.
The squad got into St. Mary's Stadium early to soak in the atmosphere and take photos and videos down close to the pitch.
Under Armour hosted the coaches and staff to its midfield box for the match.
The squad got a quick workout in and then took one of the grounds' nine pitches for training. After the session, the Irish met in a lounge area and a member of the Southampton staff spoke to the team about the culture and values of the club.
Monday marked the third and final day the team spent in Southampton. The guys began the morning with a tour of St. Mary's Stadium, home to Southampton FC.
The team got a behind the scenes look at the changing rooms, pitch, club levels and even the stadium jail.
Following the tour, members of the Southampton FC staff spoke to the players, coaches and staff. The three presentations were Video Analysis, The Southampton Way and How to Create a High Performance Team.
NOTRE DAME VS. PLAYER CENTRE
The Irish played their first friendly of the tour against Player Centre, a team consisting of former academy players from England.
The match ended level with a score of 3-3. All three of Notre Dame's goals came in the second half, as Mo Omar, John Rea and Ian Aschieris all found the back of the net.
John Rea finished from the spot to even the score at 2-2 in the video above.
Ian Aschieris drew both of Notre Dame's awarded penalties and he finished the team's second spot kick of the day to make the score 3-3.
"I thought it was a great first game. I think we did some good things and bad things and there were some flukey preseason goals we gave away. But I thought we grew well through the game and were really pushing at the end. Obviously we never like to give up three goals but I liked our response to them and I think it gave us good preparation for our game against Derby County U-19s tomorrow." - Head Coach Chad Riley
After the match the team took the bus north to St. George's Park, the training grounds of the England National Teams. The hotel on the grounds was decked out with historical photos and theming from some of the country's greatest moments.
The team started the morning with a tour of where it stayed the night, the grounds of St. George's Park. The 330-acre property is home to England's National Teams and has a number of indoor and outdoor pitches on the grounds.
The outdoor pitch and the locker rooms were designed to be exact replicas of Wembley Stadium, the home of the majority of England's home matches. One of the facilities featured an autograph wall that almost all of the sports biggest names on it from the last 20 years.
"I thought it was a great game. It was very nice of Derby County to bring us to their training ground. The main chunk of the team we faced is at the top of the table in the U-18 Premier League. They really tested us early on but we grew into the game. They were maybe unlucky not to score a couple and we were maybe unlucky not to score a couple. I'm really proud of the way the team handled the match overall and I think we will get a lot better from this match." - Chad Riley
The team and staff stopped for lunch in Manchester's MediaCityUK, home to the headquarters of the BBC and a number of other media outlets.
The Irish started day six of the trip with a morning training session, their final of the trip, to get ready for Saturday's last friendly against Brentford FC Reserves. Following the session the team headed to the city of Liverpool to some sight-seeing.
The team hit up a lot of the famous sites, walking to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey just to name a few.
NOTRE DAME vs. BRENTFORD FC RESERVES
In the third and final friendly of the tour the Irish faced its toughest opponent in Brentford FC Reserves. In a match that was played in very windy conditions, the Irish came out on top by a final score of 1-0 to cap off an undefeated tour.
Forward Ian Ascheiris bagged the fixture's only goal in the first half and goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull made a number of key saves to preserve the clean sheet. The Irish backline was stout throughout the 90 minutes, as the center-back pairing of Senan Farrelly and Philip Quinton impressed.
"I'm proud of the guys. It was a tough day with the conditions. It was definitely the most difficult opponent of the trip and I am proud of the way the guys responded, competed and performed. We were good today. We were fortunate to get a goal and see out the victory." - Chad Riley