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Men’s Soccer: Irish look for first league win against Pittsburgh

Sam Gans | Wednesday, October 3, 2012

After a four-game road swing, No. 10 Notre Dame will try to notch its first Big East win of the season when it hosts Pittsburgh tonight.

The Irish (8-2-0, 0-2-0 Big East) will face a Panther squad that has lost its last three matches. Pittsburgh (6-3-2, 0-2-0), similarly to Notre Dame, performed well in out-of-conference play, but has struggled in Big East matches. The Panthers dropped their first game this season against Cincinnati on Sept. 22 and lost to Navy and Georgetown the following week.

Irish coach Bobby Clark said the Panthers will provide a tough matchup, as is typical with Big East opponents.

“It’s going to be a very tough game,” Clark said. “All Big East games are very difficult. There’s not an easy game on your schedule in the Big East. I think they were unbeaten just over a week ago … It’s another Big East game; it’s a difficult game.”

Pittsburgh junior forward Nico Wrobel and freshman midfielder and Elkhart native Nick Wysong share the team-lead in goals with five apiece. The rest of the Panthers have combined to score just six goals this season.

Following seven straight wins to start the season, the Irish went 1-2 in their past three contests, all away from Alumni Stadium. A win over then-No. 10 Indiana was sandwiched between conference losses at Louisville and undefeated Connecticut.

The match against Pittsburgh will be Notre Dame’s first in Alumni Stadium since a 2-0 win over Michigan State on Sept. 14. While the Irish are excited to return to their home soil, Clark said it will not be the deciding factor.

“It’s nice to be home,” Clark said. “You get a bit of home-cooking, but at the same time, the stadium won’t win you the game. We’ll have to do that. But if we come out with the right mentality and play properly, I think we’ll be able to handle any team.”

Clark said after the rough start in conference play, the Irish are aware of how crucial it is to earn positive results in upcoming Big East matches, starting against Pittsburgh.

“I think we’ll be very hungry,” Clark said. “The boys are very conscious that we’re 0-2 in the Big East and we’ve got to start picking up some points.”

The Irish and Panthers kick off Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Alumni Stadium.

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu