ND Men’s Soccer: No. 12 Irish ready for postseason play
Joe Meixell | Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Twelve seems to be the number of the day for Notre Dame.
The No. 12 Irish were given the 12th seed in the NCAA Tournament when the brackets were announced late Monday afternoon.
By earning one of the 16 available seeds to the 48 teams in the tournament, Notre Dame will receive a first round bye, and it will play the winner of the match between No. 23 Illinois-Chicago and Western Illinois at home Nov. 15. The top four seeds in the tournament went to Duke (16-3-1), Wake Forest (15-3-3), SMU (17-1-4) and Virginia (14-3-1).
The Irish enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 13-5-2 on the season, but they are coming off a loss in their last game – a 2-1 overtime defeat to Rutgers in the Big East quarterfinals. That game was played on Oct. 28, meaning Notre Dame will have had almost three weeks without an official game by the time they take the field for its opening game of the NCAA Tournament.
Irish coach Bobby Clark is doing everything he can to make sure his team puts the extra time to good use.
“A break can make you rusty or it can make you sharp,” Clark said. “It’s up to myself and the staff to make sure that the break makes us sharp.”
Senior co-captain Greg Dalby, who was named Big East midfielder of the year, feels that the team has benefited from the time off as it has allowed the Irish to recuperate.
“We took a couple of days off to decompress and just relax after the regular season,” Dalby said. “It’s very strenuous mentally, physically, and emotionally going through Wednesday-Saturday games almost the whole regular season, so we’ve just been laying low.”
Notre Dame’s opponent for its Nov. 15 match is still up in the air. Illinois-Chicago enters its game with Western Illinois with a record of 12-2-5 while Western Illinois is 15-7-0.
The Leathernecks are coming off their third consecutive Mid-Continent Conference title after beating Missouri-Kansas City 2-0 in the title game. The Leathernecks have won five games in a row and seven of their last eight.
Illinois-Chicago fell to Loyola on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Horizon League Conference tournament, but its resume includes a win over No. 8 Saint Louis, a team that tied Notre Dame 0-0 on Sept. 1.
“We don’t know much about [Illinois-Chicago or Western Illinois] this year,” Clark said. “We’ll know more after we watch their game, but they’ll be good teams. There aren’t any bad teams that make the tournament.”
If the Irish make it past their second round game, potential matchups with No. 5 seed Maryland or No. 4 Virginia await. Clark, however, will not be judging his opponents by their seeding.
“Seeding is what you’ve done in the past,” Clark said. “It’s what you do in the next five games that’s important. A lot of things can happen from now on in.”