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Mens Soccer: Proven versatility

Pat Leonard | Friday, October 10, 2003

They rarely lose at home. They do not lose on the road.

The No. 5 Notre Dame men’s soccer team has proven it can play anywhere through its first 11 games of the season.

The Irish (7-1-3, 3-1-1) look to continue their dominant play – particularly on defense – when they play host to No. 25 Big East foe Rutgers this Saturday at Alumni field.

Notre Dame has lost just one game this season, a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of conference opponent Saint John’s.

Otherwise, the team has been solid regardless of the venue.

The Irish won five of seven games and tied once in a seven-game home stretch in September. The team then went 1-0-1 on a weekend road trip to Syracuse and Pittsburgh, returning with still just one blemish on its record.

This weekend’s match-up with Rutgers is the beginning of the end.

The Scarlet Knights (6-3-1, 3-1-1) enter South Bend three days after tying Seton Hall, 1-1.

Notre Dame and Rutgers are in a three-way tie with Providence for third place in the Big East. Connecticut sits in second place with a 3-1-2 conference record, and St. John’s is first at 4-1-0. The Irish can overtake St. John’s for first place on Saturday with a win over the Scarlet Knights and a Red Storm loss to Providence.

A team effort will include the same of what Clark has been getting from his disciplined squad. He will look for the defense to halt the Rutgers attack and remain stable to give the midfield and offense chances to advance.

The defense is tied for first in goals allowed (7) and first in goals against average (0.58) in the conference. Senior Kevin Richards and junior Kevin Goldthwaite man the wing-back positions, and reliable junior Jack Stewart and precocious freshman Greg Dalby are the unit’s core at the middle of the field.

On offense, Irish seniors Justin Detter and Devon Prescod share the team lead with 11 points. Detter has taken 42 shots and gotten 18 on goal. Prescod leads the team with five goals.

His five goals so far already surpasses the amount of three he netted last season.

Saturday will be the thirteenth meeting between Notre Dame and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights lead the all-time series with an 8-3-1 record, including five straight wins from 1998 to 2001. That losing streak ended for the Irish last season with a 1-1 tie in Piscataway, NJ.

The last win for Notre Dame over Rutgers came in 1997, when the Irish pulled out a 1-0 shutout at Alumni field.

Rutgers is 2-1 all-time at Notre Dame’s home field.

Saturday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. It marks the first of Notre Dame’s final two home games.

The last regular season game at Alumni field will be on Oct. 31 versus Villanova.