MEN’S SOCCER: Golden Eagles eager for Irish
Kate Gales | Wednesday, October 5, 2005
A 2-2-1 record in conference play is solid, but it doesn’t indicate an unbeatable team and, therefore, does not instill fear in opponents.
The Irish are set to change that as they travel to Marquette, a team they haven’t beaten since 1988. Coming off a 3-3 tie with Big East foe West Virginia, Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said the team has been finding its stride.
“I think guys are just starting to grow,” Clark said. “When you lose five starters from the previous year, it takes a little while before they really start to believe in themselves. I think we’re making progress in that.”
After finishing a four-game homestand with a record of 2-1-1, Notre Dame plays at Marquette today before returning to face Connecticut.
It is currently in a four-team tie for third place in the Blue League of the Big East Conference with Connecticut, Seton Hall, and West Virginia.
Although Marquette is 1-3-1 in the Big East and seventh in the Blue League division, it could be a formidable opponent.
“We’re playing a team that is very well-organized and consistently, apart from its game against Connecticut, has really conceded very few games,” Clark said.
The Irish left for Wisconsin on Tuesday. Clark said his team prepared for this game like any other.
“We look at game tape, and we talk to people who have played [Marquette],” he said. “We’ll watch game tape tomorrow morning at the hotel … practice, discuss some of the things … that would be it.”
Marquette has given up 12 goals in nine games, but six of those scores came in a blowout loss to Connecticut on Oct. 1. The team is 3-1-0 at home and has not lost to the Irish since 1988. However, the teams have not played in 15 years.
Clark is confident going into today’s contest.
“I think it will be a good test, but every game on the schedule is a good test,” he said, noting that the Big East is traditionally one of the strongest conferences in the nation.
“Its one of the hard things but it’s also one of the good things,” Clark said. “You go into every game knowing you have to play to your potential because if you don’t it could be tough … There’s no easy games on our schedule.”
Against West Virginia, the Irish led three times but gave up a goal with less than five minutes to play and were unable to score in overtime. Joe Lapira notched a goal and two assists for his first career four-point game, while midfielder Nate Norman has been a force in the front, tying Lapira for a team-high three goals.
Ian Etherington has two goals and one assist while John Stephens has one goal and three assists. Freshmen have also contributed to the team on both offense and defense.
“There’s been several of the freshmen who have established roles in the team, which is great that you’ve got some of them involved,” Clark said.
Notre Dame has high-caliber players, but the season has shown it can upset a top-10 team and lose to an unranked opponent. The Irish need consistency.
“That’s the interesting thing,” Clark said. “We can win every game and lose every game and you have to come to play. If we don’t come to play and we’re not prepared we can rue that, you can regret it.”
Clark expects Dale Rellas back for the Marquette game. The senior defender has missed four games due to injury.
“I think the defense is certainly [stronger] with Rellas coming back,” Clark said. “He’s missed four games now with injuries … That helps to solidify, give a bit of continuity to the back, to the defense.”
The Irish played Marquette annually from 1979-90, but the teams have not met since. The Irish are 6-5-1 all time against the Golden Eagles but hold only a 2-4-0 record in Wisconsin. The last meeting was a 4-0 Marquette win in 1990.