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Men’s Soccer: Powers not going out quietly

Mike Monaco | Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just as in the past three years, a new season means a new uniform number for Irish senior midfielder and captain Dillon Powers.

This season, the Plano, Tex., native is wearing No. 10, an esteemed number in the soccer tradition often worn by the attacking playmaker.

“I’ve had a different number every year,” Powers said. “I kind of did this in high school as well, and [No.] 10 is always a desired number in soccer, so I thought, ‘Why not finish my senior year wearing [No.] 10?'”

Powers wore No. 22 as a freshman, No. 8 as a sophomore and No. 5 as a junior. He said he is hoping the newest number in 2012 will prompt different results for his Irish squad, which concluded a disappointing 2011 campaign when it did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday’s season-opening 1-0 win against then-No. 21 Duke was just the start Notre Dame wanted for the year, Powers said.

“Starting off with a win [against Duke] is huge for us,” Powers said. “That was one of the things we’ve had on our list throughout the entire preseason. … We really thought we tied too many games last year and didn’t take over many games. We wanted to focus on getting the win, especially in that first game, is very important.”

The Irish tied four games last season, all at Alumni Stadium, including the 2011 season opener against Indiana.

In order to turn those 2011 ties into 2012 wins, Notre Dame will focus on being more aggressive in the attacking third and converting more chances into goals, Powers said.

“The offensive half was a big focus for us, just being more aggressive and really getting balls in behind [the defense] is the key,” Powers said. “We are trying to get their back four turned and facing their own goal. It opens up the entire field, and I think you score more goals that way.”

The Irish managed to get in behind the defense against the Blue Devils over the weekend when senior forward Ryan Finley buried the game-winner in the 76th minute. Powers started the play when he delivered a searching ball to junior forward Harry Shipp, who then crisply sent it to Finley for the goal.

Powers frequently triggered the offense throughout the game with his visionary passing and strong possession. The senior captain also helped stabilize a relatively inexperienced backline, which included three new starters.

Experienced or not, Powers said he believes this year’s defensive unit is stronger than that of last season. Senior goalkeeper Will Walsh and senior defender Grant Van De Casteele spearheaded a defensive effort that resulted in just one shot on goal from the Blue Devils.

“I think we have a lot of confidence in ourselves in the back four,” Powers said. “I think we’ve learned from those ties last year, and we’re really hungry.”

Powers, who last season was also a captain and a member of the All-Big East Second Team, said he is similarly hungry to improve his individual game. This year, he will focus on being a more aggressive, attacking offensive catalyst.

“I watched a lot of film [during the offseason], and I thought to myself, ‘I seem pretty passive, more passive than I’d like to be,'” Powers said. “I really worked on my ball skills and my [one-on-one] dribbling at guys because I feel that I can already see the field pretty well and I have a good touch.”

If Powers can help the Irish avoid the multitude of ties that derailed the team in 2011, Notre Dame may be able to construct a postseason run. And if Powers can continue to develop into the more assertive, attacking playmaker that he envisions, he may have to stick with the appropriate jersey – No. 10.

 

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu