No. 4 Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated at IU Credit Union Classic
R.J. Stempak | Friday, September 2, 2016
No. 4 Notre Dame will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on No. 15 Stanford and California this weekend at the IU Credit Union Classic.
The Irish (2-0-0) enter their third game of the season as the fourth-ranked team in the nation after a strong start consisting of two shutout performances. Notre Dame continues to learn more about its identity with every game, and Irish head coach Bobby Clark, in his 16th season as head coach, is very familiar with the development process his team needs to embark on.
“The aim of the squad is to get where we want to be in November and December,” Clark said. “We want to have a growth mindset and take something out of every game and improve it for the next game. If we do that after every game, we will be a much better team come the end of the year.”
Notre Dame will go into the tournament led by 10 players who are seniors or graduate students. This tournament in Bloomington is a yearly trip for the Irish, whose leadership has impressed Clark so far this season.
“The thing I like about this group is that we have good leadership within the group so far,” Clark said. “This will be a tough and fun weekend, but it will be a good test for us.”
The first test for the Irish come in the form of the defending NCAA champions: Stanford, who will be the first ranked team the Irish face this year, as well as the opponent for the first game away from Alumni Stadium. The Cardinal (0-0-2) are winless through two contests, competing in two ties to start their year. The reigning NCAA champions hope to continue their form from the last 13 minutes of their last match against Saint Mary’s (Calif.), where they came back from 2-0 down with only 10 men to end the match in a tie. Clark said Notre Dame will have to outperform a team that excels in many different areas on the field against Stanford, and that the Irish will take lessons learned from their close victory over New Mexico into the first game of the tournament.
“New Mexico were a very physical team, and I think last week’s game was a good intro for this week’s game,” Clark said. “Last year’s Stanford team were strong running forward. They have back players that have the ability to serve quality balls into channels where the forwards are prepared to make runs. They are strong aerially and they will look to get on the end of crosses. They do a lot of things very well; you don’t win a national championship if you don’t do a lot of things well.”
California comes into the weekend with a win and a tie and will face Indiana before meeting Notre Dame. Senior defender Nick Lima headed in two goals for the Bears (1-0-1) in their last outing, so controlling the air will likely be important for the Irish in this second matchup of the weekend. With a quick turnaround after its first game, Notre Dame will then have to prepare for a strategically different opponent immediately after it finishes its first game.
“From Cal teams in the past, they are usually very technical,” Clark said. “They are equally talented [to Stanford], but slightly different with their intricate passing game.”
Notre Dame will look remain undefeated on the season this Friday against Stanford at 5:30 pm at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington in the first leg of the IU Credit Union Classic, followed by a matchup against Cal on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.