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Men’s Soccer: Irish to open ACC tournament against Duke

Aaron Sant-Miller | Tuesday, November 12, 2013


After claiming a share of the ACC regular-season title Friday with a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh, the No. 1 Irish begin their playoff run tonight at 7 p.m. Notre Dame (11-1-5, 7-1-3 ACC) will host Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship at Alumni Stadium.

“I don’t think we’ve changed very much,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “We take one game at a time, like we’ve done all season, and we’ll continue to do that into the playoffs. You have to take each game at it’s own merit. We know that it’s sudden death. You win and you move on or you lose and stay home.”

As a member of the ACC, the Irish competed against four other teams currently ranked in the top-25. This fall, the Irish only lost once to an ACC opponent, falling to No. 15 Virginia 2-0 on Oct. 26.

“I don’t see the playoffs as anything different,” Clark said. “Every game we’ve played so far has very important. There hasn’t been one game that wasn’t going to have an impact on where we were. I think this team is pretty conditioned to playing in big games, and, obviously, tonight is another big game.”

The Irish enter the ACC tournament as the No. 2 seed, while Duke (8-4-6, 3-3-5 ACC) is the No. 7 seed.

“They are a big, strong team,” Clark said. “They have very good players and players who can play, for sure. They also have a fair bit of physicality to their team. It will be a challenge for sure. They’ve got some lads who can really play.”

Duke will bring an eight-game winning streak, one that dates back to Oct. 1.

“We’re going to be aware of them,” Clark said. “Any team that puts an eight game winning streak together is in a very positive frame of mind. We know that’s a challenge, but we have to look after what we do.”

Accordingly, Clark said, the team’s focus remains on themselves rather than their opponent.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about them,” Clark said. “We concentrate on what we have to do. We try to get better every game; that’s something we’ve concentrated on throughout the season. In every game, can we take something from the last game? Can we get better at something? We’re going to very much concern our self with who we are on the field.”

Consequentially, the Irish will look to build off of their victory over Pittsburgh (1-11-4, 0-9-2 ACC).

“I think we need to take the opportunities that we create a little bit better,” Clark said. “We created a lot of opportunities [against Pittsburgh], but we didn’t actually convert them. We want to relax, focus and put the ball in the net. I think that’s one of our messages for this game [against Duke].”

The Irish host the Blue Devils at 7 p.m. in Alumni Stadium tonight in an ACC quarterfinals matchup.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu