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Men’s Soccer: Postseason is business as usual for Irish squad

Eric Prister | Wednesday, November 10, 2010

With their win over Marquette in the Big East quarterfinals, the Irish are now fully immersed in postseason play. With the possibility of elimination, Notre Dame’s mindset must shift without a change in strategy.

“Tactically I don’t think we do anything different,” Irish sophomore midfielder Dillon Powers said. “We stick to the things that we have been working to perfect all year. I think you have to adjust your mindset a little bit. It is win or go home and you have to put everything on the line or else you won’t be playing the next day. It is a mindset that we have tried to apply to our regular season games so it is habitually in the postseason.”

The postseason is accompanied by pre-game rituals, which are often used to reinforce the significance of each contest.

“Greg Klazura and I get a clean shave before each game,” Powers said. “I like to brush my teeth after, gets me feeling fresh for the game.”

Irish coach Bobby Clark said the team does follow a certain amount of ritual, including having a pancake meal at his house before home games. But for the most part, he leaves it to his players, particularly the seniors, to take charge from there.

“We have a pre-game meal and I talk to them, just to give them a short reminder about what needs to be done, but then I leave it to the seniors and then have their own way of getting the team ready,” he said.

Clark also said that a change in attitude for the postseason is necessary, and that the Big East tournament is a good place for that to start. In addition, the Big East tournament has already given the Irish an RPI boost, moving them from No. 10 to No. 7 and giving Notre Dame an additional home game.

“There’s a funny thing, because when you qualify for NCAA, the first thing you feel is a certain amount of satisfaction, but you can’t be content,” Clark said. “You have to ask how far can we take this? You have to hold your nerve and push this thing as far as it can go.”

Clark said that he tries to encourage a certain amount of calm with his players before playoff games, but that it really comes down to them and their belief.

“It’s almost like a new season,” he said. “You come from when you can lose a game and get another one next week, and now you lose one and you’re done. There’s more on the line, so you’ve got to be able to play in that environment. You have to live with it, but you have to keep calm. We talk about it, but we don’t change the way we play. You have to have faith in yourself, your teammates and the system.”

Notre Dame will face Louisville on Friday in the Big East semifinals in Harrison, N.J., at the Red Bull Arena.