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Men’s Soccer: Irish prepare for first match as top team

By Aaron Sant-Miller | Friday, September 20, 2013

After earning the top spot in the Soccer America poll and toppling Michigan, 3-0, on Tuesday, the No. 1 Irish get back to work in the ACC on Saturday when they square off with conference rival Boston College in Newton, Mass.

“I imagine it will be a tough game,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Every ACC game is going to be tight. Every game on our schedule, ACC or not, is going to be a tough match and we’re very aware of that.”

Yet, the Irish (3-0-2, 1-0-1 ACC) must respond to the added pressure of a No. 1 ranking and an unbeaten record. The team started the season ranked No. 7 in the nation but has quickly climbed to the top of the polls in just five games. According to Clark, his squad does not think much of it.

“It’s something I’ve never really discussed with the team; the only ranking that’s of any consequence is the final ranking,” Clark said. “Rankings are really just something that the media concocts to give talking points, which is great. That being said, from the playing side or the coaching side of things, we only concern ourselves with how we play.”

Clark said though they bested Michigan, the Irish still have plenty of room to improve.

“We saw a lot of things and there was a lot we could have done better,” Clark said. “We have to work on connecting passes, we seemed a little heavy-footed in that game.”

Notre Dame’s game against Michigan was also the team’s first midweek match of the season. 

“It was the first time our players had to deal with classes on a game day and they are quite busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Clark said. “I thought we looked a little heavy-footed for some reason, but we still had a lot of good chances. There were more positives, certainly, than negatives.”

As the team looks toward Saturday, the Irish will remain introspective and focus on self-improvement, building off the positives from the game against Michigan, Clark said.

“I think we always go in and try to play our own game. We know the things we want to be good at, and we judge ourselves on that standard,” Clark said. “How well After earning the top spot in the Soccer America poll and toppling Michigan, 3-0, on Tuesday, the No. 1 Irish get back to work in the ACC on Saturday when they square off with conference rival Boston College in Newton, Mass.

“I imagine it will be a tough game,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Every ACC game is going to be tight. Every game on our schedule, ACC or not, is going to be a tough match and we’re very aware of that.”

Yet, the Irish (3-0-2, 1-0-1 ACC) must respond to the added pressure of a No. 1 ranking and an unbeaten record. The team started the season ranked No. 7 in the nation but has quickly climbed to the top of the polls in just five games. According to Clark, his squad does not think much of it.

“It’s something I’ve never really discussed with the team; the only ranking that’s of any consequence is the final ranking,” Clark said. “Rankings are really just something that the media concocts to give talking points, which is great. That being said, from the playing side or the coaching side of things, we only concern ourselves with how we play.”

Clark said though they bested Michigan, the Irish still have plenty of room to improve.

“We saw a lot of things and there was a lot we could have done better,” Clark said. “We have to work on connecting passes, we seemed a little heavy-footed in that game.”

Notre Dame’s game against Michigan was also the team’s first midweek match of the season. 

“It was the first time our players had to deal with classes on a game day and they are quite busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Clark said. “I thought we looked a little heavy-footed for some reason, but we still had a lot of good chances. There were more positives, certainly, than negatives.”

As the team looks toward Saturday, the Irish will remain introspective and focus on self-improvement, building off the positives from the game against Michigan, Clark said.

“I think we always go in and try to play our own game. We know the things we want to be good at, and we judge ourselves on that standard,” Clark said. “How well can we press the other team? How well can we transition? How good are our set pieces? These are the three main things we look at every game and a lot of different elements feed off of these three factors.” 

Against, Boston College (2-2-1, 1-1-0), though, the Irish seek nothing less than perfection, Clark said.

“We have little yardsticks that we use to measure our performance,” he said. “You’re always shooting for perfection and I don’t think we have ever attained that goal, but, certainly, that’s our aim.”

The Irish travel to Newton, Mass., on Saturday to face Boston College at 7 p.m. at the Newton Campus Soccer Field.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu