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Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame hopes to rebound from second-straight loss against Virginia

| Friday, September 29, 2017

After two close defeats on the road, the Irish are preparing to bring back their winning streak at home against Virginia.

Marking the ninth meeting between Notre Dame and Virginia since 2013, No. 7 Notre Dame (6-2-0, 2-1-0 ACC) will return to Alumni Stadium to face the No. 10 Cavaliers (6-1-1, 1-1-1 ACC) after losing to Virginia Tech 2-1 and Indiana 1-0.

Irish senior forward Jon Gallagher races toward the loose ball during Notre Dame’s 2-1 double-overtime win over Cal Poly on Aug. 27 at Alumni Stadium. Gallagher took seven shots on goal during the game.Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish senior forward Jon Gallagher races toward the loose ball during Notre Dame’s 2-1 double-overtime win over Cal Poly on Aug. 27 at Alumni Stadium. Gallagher took seven shots on goal during the game.

“First thing we had to do was get our legs back, because it was obviously a very hard game on Tuesday night,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “I think we are there, we had a nice session today. It was a short session. Yesterday, we basically went over some video of our own game. It’s very important to look at things we thought we could have done better during the Indiana game. Today, we looked at a few things that I expect tomorrow from Virginia, then we came out for an hour. They’re fresh, they’re ready to go and their heads are cleared. Any ACC game is a challenge. Virginia, we have come across them quite a few times in the past years and they are always competitive.”

Arguably in the toughest soccer conference, Clark said Virginia is a technical team that will be challenging to break down similar to any other ACC team.

“They’re always a very athletic team,” Clark said. “They’re technical, good technical players. They’re also well coached, they are very hard to break down. They defend very well, they transition very well. They’re just a good team and it will be a good match tomorrow night.”

Even though senior forwards Jeff Farina and Jon Gallagher did not put points on the board during the game against Indiana, Clark is confident they will continue to excel on the field despite the extra pressure.

“They’ve actually played well in both cases,” Clark said. “You can’t always measure players by goals scored. Both played very well, and when you’re a forward it’s always nice to score goals and you felt like you’ve done your job when it happens. But they’re very positive. It’s not easy, both are definitely marked men. Everyone is very aware of them, and they get special attention. You’ve got to deal with that and overcome that burden of having a target on their back. And they’ll do that, no concerns or doubts with that.”

As the seniors continue to lead the team on the field, the freshmen have continued to improve and display a promising future, according to Clark.

“We got some very good young players, and I’m excited about them,” Clark said. “They just got to keep working and keep their focus and enthusiasm. They got to keep getting good grades as well, especially the freshman. It’s hard playing a fall sport when you start college and you’re practicing every day and not playing. You got to be there every day working hard and they are the ones that have to do the jobs as well. They’re the ones that pick up the balls, the pinnies and other equipment. We call them the pit ponies. Pit ponies are all the freshman. In the mines back in Scotland, they were the ponies that used to work underground. Before mechanization, they used ponies. We don’t have mechanization to pick up the balls and pinnies, so that’s why we call them the pit ponies. Every year they come in and they’re like, ‘You’re calling us pit ponies?’ And I’m just like, ‘Google it.’ It’s pretty funny that they actually embrace the name.”

With a team that’s 4-0 at home, Clark said Friday will be a great night for Irish fans to support the women’s team at 5 p.m. and the men’s team at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

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