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Men’s Soccer: Irish to face Seattle, UNM

Michael Blasco | Friday, September 11, 2009

Sitting at a middling 1-1-1 after opening their season against three ranked opponents, the Irish are hoping to prove that they are worthy of the hype entering the season.

After tying No. 3 Wake Forest and falling to No. 1 St. Johns in Bloomington last weekend, Notre Dame will look to bounce back while hosting the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at the new Alumni Field. The No. 10 Irish will face Seattle at 7:30 p.m. tonight before squaring off against New Mexico Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Although Notre Dame will not have a match against the Hoosiers, No. 12 Indiana will be the fourth team in the tournament and represents the Irish’s toughest obstacle to claiming a second-consecutive Berticelli title. The Hoosiers will face New Mexico at 5 p.m. on Friday before playing Seattle at 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

“[Seattle and New Mexico] will present major challenges,” ninth-year Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I know and respect both coaches and know that they are very excited to visit for games against IU and Notre Dame.”

After opening the season with a 5-0 blowout over Michigan, the Irish struggled against the Demon Deacons and Red Storm. Nevertheless, Clark is not letting those results keep him down.

“In games like this there is usually a small margin of error between success and failure and in both cases little things prevented us scooping the jackpot,” Clark said. “Having said that, I thought there were periods in both games where we played very well.”

Still, Notre Dame’s road to the NCAA Tournament will not get any easier. The Irish’s schedule is one of the most grueling in the country and should push the team to its limit.

“We always have a tough schedule, so the past weekend was a typical start for us,” Clark said. “Playing the No. 1 and No. 3 teams is always going to be challenging.”

Leading Notre Dame this weekend is the Irish midfield, which features a bevy of talented upperclassmen in senior Michael Thomas and juniors Matt Armstrong and Jeb Brovsky.

“Our playmakers are mainly our central players,” Clark said. “Thomas, Armstrong and Brovsky have done well in this capacity. I would also say well done to [senior defender] John Schaefer who stepped in and stepped up after [senior defender] Cory Rellas picked up an injury.”

Notre Dame’s 7:30 p.m. match against Seattle follows Indiana-New Mexico at 5 p.m. at Alumni Stadium. Sunday will feature the Hoosiers taking on Seattle at before Notre Dame’s finale against New Mexico.