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ND Women’s Soccer

O’Boyle: Notre Dame’s performance on the road will determine its overall success

| Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Let’s say there’s a team that looks nearly invincible at home. Nineteen wins in its last 20 games, conceding only two goals in that run and boasting a perfect 5-0 record at its home ground this season. That makes a pretty strong team, but you’d also have to ask, “What can they do on the road?”

So let’s say this team can get results against the best teams in the country on the road. This team upset then-No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, beat eventual national runner-up Duke in Durham, North Carolina, last season, then recorded a 2-2 draw with No. 2 Stanford, unafraid to play attacking soccer and look for the win.

Irish junior forward Meghan Doyle surveys the field during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win against Wisconsin on Aug. 21. at Alumni Stadium.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish junior forward Meghan Doyle surveys the field during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win against Wisconsin on
Aug. 21. at Alumni Stadium.

That team sounds like one of the best in the country. The ability to beat everyone at home and anyone on the road is a pretty good mark of a national title contender. Yet the No. 20 Irish, the team I’m talking about, don’t seem to be on the level of the nation’s top teams.

The Irish have been a bastion of consistency at Alumni Stadium in recent years, their incredible defensive record is proof of that, while at the other end only Florida State have been able to stop the Irish from recording a goal in the last three seasons.

But while Notre Dame has earned some impressive results away from home, the same consistency has not always been there. Last year, after the victory over Virginia, the Irish were beaten by Miami in their next road game.

This year, we’ve again seen a great road result for Notre Dame. It may not have been a win, but a 2-2 draw against a Stanford team that looked like the best in the nation going into the game is a fantastic achievement. The Cardinal were coming off a comfortable 4-1 victory over No. 10 Minnesota and, on their way to a 6-0 record before the game, had also beaten No. 5 Florida. Even after failing to beat Notre Dame, Stanford will be contenders for the top spot in the next poll. The fact that the draw came as part of a two-game weekend over 2,000 miles away from home and just two days after a double-overtime battle with Santa Clara makes it all the more impressive. But while a draw at Santa Clara is by no means a poor result, if the Irish can put up a strong attacking performance against the Cardinal, you would expect more against the Broncos.

The Irish don’t have one particularly bad away result yet like last season’s defeat to Miami, but the lack of attacking success against Santa Clara and a 2-0 defeat to Michigan last month are still cause for disappointment. And with away contests coming up against Syracuse and North Carolina State, both games the Irish should win, they will need to ensure the performances do not slip after the draw with Stanford.

It would be harsh to say the Irish underperform as a whole away from home. Notre Dame shouldn’t necessarily expect to perform on the levels of the very best teams in the nation. Yet recent results suggest that they can deliver big wins on the road. It may be too much to ask for the kind of consistency that Notre Dame achieve at home, but some improvement in that regard would go a long way for the Irish.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel