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Men’s Soccer: Irish to play top Big East teams at home

Laura Myers | Friday, September 25, 2009

Two is better than one.

No. 25 Notre Dame (3-3-1, 1-1 Big East) will take on conference foes Louisville and Cincinnati at Alumni Stadium this weekend.

In their first conference games last weekend, the Irish defeated Depaul 2-1 and lost to South Florida by the same score. They have won the first game and lost the second in their past three weekend series.

Irish coach Bobby Clark said the team played well in the second game despite the result.

“You’re never satisfied when you don’t win,” Clark said. “But there’s nothing we can do about the result now, so we have to get the lesson and move on.”

The Irish will have to move on quickly, as the No. 16 Cardinals (5-0-1, 2-0) come to South Bend Friday. Louisville currently leads the Big East Red Division and is one of only two undefeated teams in the conference.

“We’ve got every respect for Louisville,” Clark said. “They’re a strong, hardworking team with a direct playing style.”

Notre Dame played Louisville twice in 2008, losing during the regular season but defeating the Cardinals in the Big East tournament.

The Cardinals are coming off of a 2-0 win over West Virginia and a 5-0 rout of Pittsburgh.

The Irish offense will have a challenge against Louisville; all five Cardinal wins so far this season have been shutouts, and their tie was 1-1 against UIC.

Against Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1) on Sunday, the defense will be the ones who need to step up. The Bearcats have scored five goals in two games this season.

“We’re not looking to the Cincinnati game yet because we’re putting all the focus on Louisville,” Clark said. “When we finish that game, we’ll start looking at Cincinnati.”

The Bearcats are currently fourth in the Big East Red Division, though Clark said the low standing does not make them less dangerous.

“There are no easy games in the Big East,” he said. “These are two challenging teams.”

These games mark the first Big East contests for the Irish in the new Alumni Stadium. Clark denied that would give the Irish a significant advantage.

“The home field doesn’t win games, players win games,” he said.

The Irish, who are tied for third in the Big East Blue Division, have caught some bad breaks lately, with their two recent losses coming when an opposing player broke a 1-1 tie late in the game. All three losses have been close.

However, Clark said he does not blame bad luck.

“You make your own luck,” he said. “We’ve just got to do things better. We’ve got to work on putting two good games together instead of just one.”

Notre Dame faces Louisville at 5:00 p.m. today and will kick off against Depaul at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.