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Men’s Soccer

No. 1 Notre Dame aims to stay perfect against Virginia Tech

| Friday, September 22, 2017

Again finding itself at the top of the college soccer world, No. 1 Notre Dame looks to keep its perfect start intact as it travels to Blacksburg, Virginia, to face Virginia Tech this Friday.

Irish senior midfielder Blake Towns dribbles around a defender during Notre Dame's 2-0 win over San Diego on Aug. 25 at Alumni Stadium.Rosie LoVoi | The Observer

Irish senior midfielder Blake Towns dribbles around a defender during Notre Dame’s 2-0 win over San Diego on Aug. 25 at Alumni Stadium.

Last season, Notre Dame (6-0-0, 2-0-0 ACC) also started a perfect 6-0 and earned the No. 1 ranking before a road loss to Louisville ended both. This season, the potential roadblock comes in the form of the Hokies (3-4-0, 0-2-0 ACC), who will undoubtedly present another tough challenge for Notre Dame. Despite Virginia Tech’s winless start in ACC play, as the Hokies fell to both Duke, 3-1, and Virginia, 2-1, Irish head coach Bobby Clark noted that the Irish have never had an easy time pulling out a win at Virginia Tech since joining the ACC, and that Friday’s matchup should by no means be considered an easy game.

“They look like all ACC teams,” Clark said. “They’ve got some very strong players and look to have a big team. They’ve got good size and they look very well-balanced from the bits of the game I’ve watched. Their game against Virginia was a very close game, so, it’s just another grinder. Our past two visits to Thompson Field were difficult games. … We’ve never really taken them apart there at all. They’ve been really hard, tough games, so going into the game that’s how I’d see it at this point.”

Resuming ACC play after its 2-1 non-conference win over Bowling Green on Tuesday night, Notre Dame has officially entered the heart of its regular season schedule, as the Irish will play two games a week on Tuesdays and Fridays while consistently facing top-tier conference and non-conference opponents, exemplified by Notre Dame’s visit to No. 2 Indiana next Tuesday. Therefore, for Clark, the most important thing for Notre Dame during the early stage of this gauntlet is to conserve energy and recover physically between games. He commented on how the players are holding up so far.

“Physically we’re good,” Clark said. “When you get into two games a week, regeneration and just getting ball touches [is key]. You want to preserve all their energy for the game … and get their legs back under them, and I think we’ll be that. They all looked quite good yesterday, there was nobody worse for wear after the Bowling Green game, which was pleasing, so I think we’ll have a full complement for [Virginia Tech].

Looking to preserve their energy, Clark commented that the Irish won’t have had much standard practice time before they head to Blacksburg, Virginia, both in terms of physical exertion, but also in terms of tactical preparation.

“It was really just working with the fitness coach,” Clark said. “There was no actual practice and nothing tactical — they didn’t touch a ball yesterday. It was really just a lot of stretching, running, some movement, ice baths and NormaTec compression. So that’s where we are — our trainer is going to give me the official fitness report — but it’ll be quite light today.”

Back on the ACC grind, Notre Dame will look to handle its business on the road as it previously has this season against both UConn and Boston College. The match will kick off against the Hokies at 7 p.m. at Thompson Field in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a junior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. He is a proud resident of Stanford Hall and the defending champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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