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Irish face regional rival UM

Kate Gales | Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Irish have come a long way since they last saw the Wolverines – ending up on the wrong side of a penalty-kick decision in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last year. But in the middle of a tough Big East schedule, Notre Dame is ready to take on its regional rivals and get a little payback for last year’s season-ending loss.

“Whether or not it’s Michigan , we obviously want to win every game we can,” coach Bobby Clark said. “That in itself should be more than enough incentive to get our team ready.”

The Irish are coming off a pair of conference victories over Pittsburgh and Syracuse, extending their win streak to five – all via shutouts.

Although Michigan is not a conference game, the nation’s No. 19 team should keep the No. 7 Irish on their toes.

“It’s a very important game,” Clark said. “It’s a big regional game, and it could have a big bearing on who goes to the NCAA Tournament or not.”

The Irish are coming together at the right time. Players from all positions have stepped up to make big plays to keep the wins coming in.

“That’s the hallmark of a good team – that we have enough depth and ability that people can step up and make things happen,” Clark said. “Hopefully … different people can continue to step up at the right mo-ments.”

Tony Megna, who was named this week’s Big East Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team with five goals. Fire-power also comes from Ian Etherington, who scored the winning goal on Sunday against Syracuse in the second overtime period.

“[Justin] McGeeney was doing the business earlier on and now Tony Megna has stepped up and is showing his worth,” Clark said. “Ian Etherington had a terrific game and Nate Norman and our flank players [have also excelled].”

Goalkeeper Chris Sawyer and a stalwart Irish defense have allowed only six goals against this season. Sawyer leads the Big East with a 0.49 goals-against average. The defense has recorded seven shutouts on the season.

After today’s game, the Irish will continue their conference schedule with a week-long road trip while the University is on fall break.

“This is a big game [and] it’s a busy time,” Clark said. “It’s always going to become busy towards the end of the season.”