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MEN’s SOCCER: Home conference play begins tonight for men

Kate Gales | Friday, September 23, 2005

After playing two tough teams on the road, the Irish return to face new Big East competitors Cinncinati and Louisville this weekend.

The team finished 1-1 in its road trip last weekend, which also featured a cancelled flight.

“We had a pretty long weekend,” coach Bobby Clark said. “[We had] quite difficult travel last weekend, with two canceled flights, so we didn’t actually get back until Monday.”

Although returning to a friendly home crowd is a plus for the No. 18 Irish, Clark is still prepared for challenges.

“Its always nice to play at home,” he said. “The field is still the same size and you’re still playing against the same guys.”

The Irish will face Lousiville on Friday at 7:30 p.m. immediately following a women’s matchup against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals are currently fifth in the Big East and coming off an upset victory against Big East foe No. 5/1 Connecticut.

On Sunday, the Irish will face Cinncinati – who also upset top-ranked Connecticut last weekend in a 2-0 victory before tying Providence, 1-1.

“Both of these teams come off very good weekend,” Clark said. “Both teams beat the No. 1 team in the country last weekend, so they’re feeling pretty good about themselves coming in here this weekend.”

Cincinnati is leading the Red Division of the Big East.

The Irish (4-20, 1-1 Big East) have worked to come together as a team, with Chris Cahill a pleasant surprise in goal and the midfielders scoring crucial goals. A week of recovering and practice should have the Irish back on track.

“It’s important to do well in practice but it’s even more important to do well in games,” Clark said. “I think the team is coming together.”

One highlight for the Irish has been the emergence of senior tri-captain John Stephens in the midfield. After notching only two points all last season, he has already recorded a goal and an assist. Stephens’ assist went to forward Justin McGeeney, who scored his first goal of the season against Syracure after leading the Irish in points last year.

On defense, junior Ryan Miller has been crucial for Cahill. Miller was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week last week.

The home crowd should be treated to some good soccer this weekend, as the Irish realize that these games are crucial to goals of winning the Big East regular season crown for the second year in a row.

“This is a very, very big weekend for us because this gives us the opportunity to get us a little bit ahead,” Clark said.