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Men’s Soccer: Irish face two ranked teams this weekend

Greg Arbogast | Friday, September 1, 2006

After two difficult games in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament last weekend, Notre Dame will have no time to relax this weekend as it takes on No. 8 Indiana and No. 25 Saint Louis in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington.This will be the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame has participated in the Hoosiers’ annual event, one of the most competitive early-season tournaments in the nation. On nine separate occasions, the eventual NCAA champion has participated in the Classic. The Irish expect the competition to be just as stiff this year. “Whereas last weekend’s tournament had three top-20 teams, you’re talking about four top-20 teams this weekend,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said, referring to Saint Louis, Indiana and No. 16 Connecticut. “These are all potential Final Four teams.”Competitive games are nothing new when Notre Dame and Indiana take the field together. Over the past five seasons, the two teams have split their six contests, and it was the Irish who ended the Hoosiers’ bid for a second consecutive national title last November with a 2-0 win in the second round of the NCAA tournament.”There’s a very healthy respect for the other in both camps,” Clark said. “It’s been a hard fought rivalry with great games, and we’re lucky to have such a quality opponent in such close proximity.”Indiana will enter this weekend with a record of 2-0-0 after finishing in first place at Notre Dame’s Berticelli tournament last weekend. The Hoosiers defeated Creighton 1-0 in double overtime and edged UAB 2-1. The Irish, who finished in second place with a record of 1-1-0 in the tournament, will have a chance to repay the favor this weekend.Notre Dame’s other opponent this weekend, Saint Louis, has an impressive history at the Classic – owning an all-time record of 10-1-3. The Billikens also have a 9-3-1 record all-time against the Irish. Notre Dame, however, won the only match-up between the two teams last season by the score of 1-0 in overtime.Clark sees this as a positive in the high levels of competition this weekend for his team.”I believe in playing the best possible schedule you can,” he said. “You only have eighteen regular season games, and you want to make every game as good as possible. Athletes love pitting themselves against good competition, and that’s when you find out who the true competitors are.”Plus, two wins this weekend will send a message.”It’s an early opportunity to make a statement,” he said. “We can either pass that opportunity or grab it with both hands. I hope we grab it with both hands.”