Notre Dame soccer: Ex-Irish coach Grace loses battle to cancer

Staff reports
ND Insider

Former Notre Dame men’s and women’s soccer coach Dennis Grace, who led the Irish to their first NCAA appearance in men’s soccer, died Friday at his home in Elkhart, after a long battle with cancer. He was 60.

Grace was Notre Dame’s second varsity men’s soccer coach (1984-89) and was the first varsity women’s coach in the 1988 and ’89 seasons.

In 1987 the Irish defeated perennial power Indiana (4-3 in overtime) for the first time, started the season 14-0-1 (finishing 17-3-1 overall) and achieved their first national ranking in the first season of play in 5,000-seat Moose Krause Stadium.

In 1988 Grace’s squad finished 17-4-2 and made its first NCAA Championship appearance, falling 2-0 at 11th-rated SMU.

The Irish that year finished 15th in the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America rankings — and Grace was named MCC and Great Lakes Region coach of the year.

His combined career mark at Notre Dame was 101-54-15 (.638) — 76-38-14 (.648) in six years with the men and 25-16-1 (.607) in two seasons with the women.

Grace’s overall record as a college head coach was 134-79-19 (.646).

A collegiate soccer player at Indiana, Grace earned two letters as a striker for the Hosiers in 1974 and ’75.

Grace is survived by two sons, Christopher Grace of Indianapolis, Ind., and Michael Grace of New Orleans, La.

Visitation is 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Stemm-Lawson-Peterson Funeral Home in Elkhart. A funeral Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus. Interment will be at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Dennis Grace Memorial Fund, c/o Indiana Soccer Foundation, 5440 Herbert Lord Road, Indianapolis, IN 46216. The fund will support a soccer coaching clinic that will take place annually in Bloomington in Grace’s name.