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Irish soccer ready to face Bradley

Pat Leonard | Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Notre Dame men’s soccer team continues its seven-game, September home stand with a non-league match versus Bradley this Thursday at Alumni Field.

The Braves (4-4-0) have a 2-1 all-time series lead on the Irish, including a 3-2 victory over Notre Dame in Peoria, Ill. last season.

The Irish have scored four goals in their last five games, including two in a 2-1 overtime victory over Fresno State. Notre Dame is 3-1-1 on the home stand, losing to Big East opponent St. John’s 3-0 and tying non-conference but perennial foe Akron, 0-0. The other two victories came in two 1-0 wins over Indiana and West Virginia.

Entering Thursday’s game with a non-ranked opponent, coach Bobby Clark is confident his team will remain focused and play its own game.

“This is a test. It’s a mental test,” Clark said. “None of the boys will underestimate that. We’ve played the last two years and they’ve been very hard games. Last year [Bradley] beat us, so I don’t think anyone in our camp will be vaguely thinking it’s going to be an easy game.”

Notre Dame climbed slightly in the polls following back-to-back victories, coming in at No. 8 in Soccer America and No. 15 in the NSCAA poll rankings.

The move up still does not mean a relaxing in tempo or style, as the Irish have a hard road ahead of them.

“We watched some tape and we were very impressed with them,” Clark said. “It’ll be a tough one. They’re good, but if we do things right, we can play with anyone in the country.”

The potential of Notre Dame starters is starting to receive national recognition.

After scoring the game-winning goal against Indiana and all but shutting off the left side of the field for opposing forwards, junior defender Kevin Goldthwaite earned Big East defensive player of the week honors as well as a nomination to the College Soccer News team of the week. Clark, however, prefers to view awards as team accomplishments.

“Soccer is a team sport,” he said. “Goldie got the award, but he got that award not just for what he did but for what his buddies have done as well. That award goes to all the boys in the back: to Kevin [Richards], to Jack [Stewart], to Greg Dalby and Chris Sawyer. I think Kevin would be the first to second that.”

Notes

Freshman midfielder Ryan Miller is in the infirmary with a torn ACL and could be out for the season.

“He played against UAB and against Cal,” Clark said. “The week before practice for St. John’s he got hurt and we didn’t know what it was. Then we found out later it was a torn ACL. He could be out for the season. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Clark says that because Miller only played two games, he still has four years left of eligibility, including a ‘medical year of eligibility’ due to the injury. A player must play three or four games, Clark says, before counting as an official member of that season’s roster.