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Men’s Soccer: Bearcats, Cardinals visit Irish

Dan Murphy | Friday, September 28, 2007

After opening up Big East play with three straight road wins, No. 2 Notre Dame returns home for two more league games this weekend at Alumni Field – one against a team it has never defeated in conference play and one against a team it has defeated every time.

The Irish get started tonight with a showdown against last year’s conference champions, Cincinnati at 7 p.m.

In Cincinnati’s two seasons in the Big East, Notre Dame is winless against the Bearcats (3-4. 2-0 Big East), who come to South Bend after a strong showing last weekend on their home turf. Cincinnati took down Georgetown 2-1 and Seton Hall 4-0.

Senior forward Patrick Baxter led the way with two goals against the Pirates, scored the game-winner against the Hoyas and was named the Big East ‘s offensive player of the week.

“In this league, every team has good players,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “We have to concern ourselves more with what we are doing and sorting out our own games.”

The Irish seem to have done that pretty well the last few weeks.

Notre Dame (5-1-2) has rolled off three straight shutouts. Senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill enters this weekend with a 0.39 goals-against average.

And Clark knows the Bearcats have had Notre Dame’s number.

“It’s an opportunity for our team to make history,” Clark said. “It would be something they could hang their hats on.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Notre Dame has never lost to Sunday’s opponent, Louisville. The Irish are 6-0 all-time against the Cardinals, with three of the wins coming at Alumni Field.

The Cardinals split games with Georgetown and Seton Hall in their opening weekend of Big East play. Louisville has put up big numbers offensively so far in coach Ken Lolla’s second season at the helm. They have scored four goals on three separate occasions so far this season – wins over Seton Hall (4-0), Kentucky (4-2) and Marshall (4-1).

“I’m not even looking at Louisville at the moment, only Cincinnati,” Clark said. “Come Saturday, or Friday night, I’ll start to think about the Cardinals.”

Louisville starts its weekend in Milwaukee with a game against Marquette Friday night. Sunday’s game starts at 3:30.

The Irish hope the home slate this weekend will give them rest to regain full strength as they enter the heart of their conference schedule.

“We’re nursing a few bits and pieces, but I think we’ll be OK,” Clark said. “It’s nice from a rest point to be at home.”

Notre Dame plays seven of its next eight games at home, with one trip to East Lansing to take on Michigan State mixed in with the home games.