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Men’s Soccer: Squad looks to tournament despite injury

Sam Gans | Friday, August 31, 2012

The Irish opened their season with a 1-0 win last Saturday over Duke, but it did not come without a price.

Senior midfielder Adam Mena left the game in the first half with what is likely a torn ACL, Irish coach Bobby Clark said. The injury occurred just weeks after senior midfielder and captain Michael Rose tore his ACL during the preseason.

While Clark expressed sadness over the injuries, he also noted his squad had dealt with similar circumstances in the recent past.

“There are no excuses here,” Clark said. “It’s been an amazing spell of ACLs – this is our fifth in the last 16 months – which is quite incredible, so we’ve had to deal with it before. So it’s not like this is the first time we’re dealing with this.

“You hate to say this, but you’ve got to move on, as far as the team is concerned and I think that also everybody knows that they’re playing for these two guys as well, because these two guys … these are two terrific kids I loved to coach, and I’m just so sad for them.”

The No. 15 Irish (1-0-0) begin to move on this weekend when the team travels south to Bloomington, Ind., for the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. Notre Dame will play two matches in three days, beginning with a contest at 5 p.m. this evening against San Diego State. The Irish will conclude the tournament with a match against Clemson at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Notre Dame has only a brief history with both squads. The Irish have played the Aztecs (0-0-0) just once, back in 1987. This will be the third meeting for the Irish against the Tigers (1-0-1), with the last match in 2005.

Despite limited knowledge of both opponents, Clark said he is confident his team’s style of play can be a catalyst for success.

“San Diego State’s the first one, and we’ve just got to be ready ourselves and not worry too much where they are,” Clark said. “We don’t know too much about them, but we didn’t know too much about any of our other opponents we’ve played in preseason. I think the main thing is going to come up to what we do. The nice thing about the way we play, we don’t change our system very much depending on opponents. We pretty well try to go to the field and play our own game.”

San Diego State and Clemson both had .500 or better records last season. Clark said the opponents – and the Classic in general – represent Notre Dame’s commitment to a challenging schedule.

“We play teams who are prepared to come in from out of region, spend the money and come in and play these games,” Clark said. “They’re quality games, and they’re tests. They tell you where you are a little bit before your conference begins. We always just look for the best games. … I’m a great believer if you’ve only got 17 regular season games and three scrimmages, how many quality experiences can we get for our players?”

Notre Dame begins play in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic at 5 p.m. tonight against San Diego State and continues Sunday against Clemson.

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu