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Men’s Soccer: Irish welcome St. John’s in conference opener

Molly Sammon | Friday, September 24, 2010

After losing last year’s Big East championship game in a penalty kick shootout to St. Johns, 5-3, the Irish will welcome the conference rival Red Storm to Alumni Stadium Saturday to begin the 2010 season Big East play.

“They’re always well coached, they always have good players, and they’re always technically good and tactfully good. They are definitely a good team,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It’ll be a challenge, but not one that we’ll be scared of, it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Notre Dame (2-2-2) will be the underdogs for Saturday’s contest against No. 12 St. John’s (5-1). St. Johns leads the overall series at 11-3-5, but Notre Dame holds the advantage with games played at home (2-2-3). Notre Dame’s last win against St. John’s was in 2007.

“It’s the opening game in the Big East, and it’s a game against a top 20 team,” Clark said. “A win here could set you off on the right path in the Big East, and it will be a very valuable win overall.”

This week marked the longest gap in the season to hold only practices. The amount of games per week picks up after this contest, so the Irish are hopeful that the extra practice time will be obvious on the field come Saturday.

“Since we aren’t playing until Saturday, we were able to get an extra practice in,” Clark said. “From now on until the playoffs, we’ll be going two games a week. This was the longest stretch we’ve had, and hopefully that will serve us well down the line.”

The Irish had a rough last weekend against Michigan and Michigan State, where they ended play in a scoreless tie against the Wolverines and lost against the Spartans after giving them an early lead, 2-0.

“We started a little bit slowly in that game and it took us a little time to get up to speed,” Clark said.

Clark stressed the importance of getting an early lead in the game as one thing he will be looking for in particular against St. John’s. He also said they have worked on converting their offensive strengths, like leading in possessions and shots, into goals.

“The only way you prove that is by winning, and we’ve got to start turning our superiority into goals,” Clark said. “It doesn’t matter if you have superiority with possessions or shots if you can’t turn them into goals.”

Kick-off is scheduled for noon Saturday and admission is free to the public.