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Men’s Soccer: Irish set for rematch against Big East foe Georgetown

Matt Gamber | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No. 19 Notre Dame can clinch at least a share of the Big East Blue Division crown with a win in today’s 2:30 p.m. home tussle with No. 24 Georgetown.

The Hoyas (9-3-3, 4-2-3 Big East, 15 points) have lost just once in their last eight games and have moved into third in the division, two points behind the Irish (9-5-2, 5-2-2 Big East, 17 points) and Connecticut (8-3-6, 5-3-2 Big East, 17 points), which tied Pittsburgh 2-2 last night.

Georgetown could grab first place with a victory today, as wins earn three points and draws one point in the conference standings. A win would give the Irish 20 points and a three-point advantage over the Huskies, who play just one more conference game.

Notre Dame and Georgetown each have one more Big East contest after today’s match.

Today’s match-up is a rare midweek day game because a norovirus outbreak on the Georgetown campus caused the originally-scheduled Oct. 5 match to be postponed.

“This game is such a big game, and it’s a pity it won’t be played in a better atmosphere,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “There might not be that atmosphere, but I know our players will be very excited.”

After scoring just one goal in a pair of Big East road games last week, the Irish offense will be tested once again by a stingy Hoyas defense that allows only .58 goals per game.

Georgetown bottled up the Notre Dame attack in a scoreless draw in last year’s meeting, and the Hoyas goalkeeping duo of Matthew Brutto and Mike Wilber have combined for 10 shutouts this season. Brutto has recorded a shutout in all eight games he has played this season.

But with the exception of last week, Notre Dame’s offense has been potent. The Irish average 2.19 goals per game, which ranks 10th nationally, and have consistently generated scoring opportunities. Now they just need to convert, Clark said.

“We’ve just got to play well and put a complete game together,” he said. “We’d like to score goals but we also can’t concede goals.”

The Hoyas are led by Brian Wiese, who played for Clark at Dartmouth before coaching with him for 10 years – from 1996-2000 at Stanford and from 2001-05 at Notre Dame. That explains the major similarities between the two teams in terms of scheme and formations, Clark said.

“If you ask anyone, they’ll always say they’re very similar to us,” he said. “At the end of the day, personnel dictate how things go, but I think you’ll find that there will be a lot of similarities.”

With home-field advantage and a chance to guarantee themselves a share of the Blue Division crown, the Irish are poised to erase concerns about last week’s stumble.

“Everybody knows what the stakes are,” Clark said. “If you’re in the last week of the season and you’re playing for something very meaningful, you know it’s been a good season.

“We’re in that situation, playing for the trophy, and you can’t ask for more than that. Well, you can – you can ask to play very well – and that’s our goal starting against Georgetown.”