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Men’s Soccer

ND looks to bounce back against Cards

| Friday, October 10, 2014

After dropping two consecutive regular season matches for the first time in five years, No. 6 Notre Dame takes to the pitch Friday night in a return to ACC conference action when it welcomes No. 18 Louisville to Alumni Stadium.

Both teams come into the matchup on a slump. The Irish (5-3-2, 2-1-1 ACC) have lost at home to Boston College, 1-0, and then at Michigan, 3-2, in the past week. The Cardinals (5-4-1, 3-1-0) are also mired in a three-match losing streak.

None of the players on the Notre Dame roster were in college the last time the team lost two regular season games in a row, so they now find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

“It’s the same just now [as it was five years ago]. You’re playing a lot of tough games,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Obviously, responding is the sign of a great team. Let’s just say we it’s not something we’ve done very often. I’m not used to it, neither are the players, this is a new experience. But I think it’s an experience we’ll — there’s a lot of pride in this team.”

Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli fights for the ball with North Carolina senior defender Boyd            Okwuonu during Notre Dame’s 2-0 win against the Tar Heels on Sept. 26 at Alumni Stadium. Michael Yu

Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli fights for the ball with North Carolina senior defender Boyd Okwuonu during Notre Dame’s 2-0 win against the Tar Heels on Sept. 26 at Alumni Stadium.

Even though Louisville has lost its last three games, Clark said the team is still dangerous.

“They’re a very good team,” Clark said. “They’re a team I think that was maybe a high as fourth in the rankings and have dropped a little bit. They’re still a team that I think could be a Final Four team.”

Clark praised the Cardinals as a “rhythm team” that thrives off winning the possession battle during its games.

“They keep the ball very well,” Clark said of the Cardinals. “They play attractively. They’ll get the ball, and their players can handle the ball well. They’ll get some dangerous people in the wide areas up front. They’ve got one very dangerous lad, No. 7 [sophomore midfielder Andrew Brody].

“They’re just a good all-around team. They’ve got good depth, and it’ll be a tough match.”

Even with the 0-2 record in the last week, Clark said his team has played well, especially against Boston College.

“It’s funny, we get all of our games analyzed, and against Boston College, possibly that’s the most we’ve outplayed one team,” Clark said. “I don’t know — maybe from several, quite a few years, but we don’t win. So you do play well, but you don’t win.

“That’s the hard thing about soccer sometimes. But I think if you play well, you’ve got a much better chance of winning. … You’ve got to take your chances also. We had several good opportunities in the Boston College game that we didn’t take.”

Of all the games Notre Dame has played this season, including six matches against ranked teams, the match against Michigan on Tuesday night was the first time all season the Irish did not outshoot their opposition. Michigan (3-5-2, 1-1-2 Big Ten) tied the Irish in shots at 18, and led in shots on goal, 7-5.

“I though the Michigan game was a much more even game,” Clark said. “They got the momentum after they got two quick goals to open the first half, then I think we stemmed that nicely. But then we got the momentum when we scored our two goals, and then we kind of let them back into it again because at that time we were kind of dominating again.”

The Michigan loss was a very similar game to the tie against Virginia on Sept. 21, Clark said. Notre Dame took the lead after a penalty kick goal by junior midfielder Patrick Hodan. However, the Irish let in a goal minutes afterward and had to settle for a tie.

“It’s a little bit when you are down, you put tremendous amount of effort into the game and then when things level up you say, ‘Phew! We’ve done it,’ but you’ve not done it, it’s only level,” Clark said.

“It should be a great game, and it should be a great crowd too because the weather is going to be beautiful. … You’ve got two wounded animals coming in head-on-head — scratch and claw. It’s going to [be] an exciting match.”

The Irish will look to rediscover their winning ways tonight when they host Louisville at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A senior History major, Zach resides in Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he has covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus.

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