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Men’s Soccer: Irish ready for the Hoyas

Kate Gales | Friday, October 14, 2005

The Irish will hit the road during fall break for three conference games that could have huge postseason implications.

Most recently tying Michigan State 0-0 on Tuesday, Notre Dame faces Georgetown on Saturday at 1 p.m., Providence on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and Pittsburgh on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.

The Irish traditionally schedule a road trip to the East Coast during fall break in order to minimize missed classes.

“It’s a lot, but it’s one of the things we’ve got to do because of the class-missed policy,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “This is a way that gets us to play three games without too many classes missed.”

The Irish are 7-4-2 on the season (3-3-1 Big East) with only five games remaining in the regular season.

A heartbreaking 2-1 home loss to Connecticut on Oct. 8 means the team needs conference wins for favorable seeding in the Big East Tournament, which begins Nov. 1.

“I think everybody realizes the importance of the last five games,” Clark said. “They’re all very important. They’d all be nice to win.”

Notre Dame returns home after the road trip to face Indiana and Seton Hall.

The season has been rocky at times as the Irish have struggled to find a rhythm.

“It’s been a season that’s ebbed and flowed a little bit,” Clark said. “There’s been some good and bad. It would be nice to hit a little run.”

Georgetown is 3-4 in conference play and sixth in the Big East’s Blue Division to Notre Dame’s fourth. Providence boasts a record of 2-1-4, good for fifth place, and Pittsburgh is 2-5 for seventh. These teams could be battling it out for a chance to play in the later rounds of the conference tournament and solidify a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Although the Irish have not been able to establish a long winning run, team leaders have stepped up in a year of rebuilding. Greg Dalby has shone as an anchor in the defense and midfield, and Chris Cahill has worked hard to become a leader in the net.

Defenders Ryan Miller and John Stephens are tied for the team lead in assists, with three (also tied with Joe Lapira).

In the midfield, players have not been hesitant to get involved in the scoring, with Nate Norman tied for the team lead in goals (three) with forwards Lapira and Justin McGeeney. Lapira leads the team with nine points and Norman adds eight.

Although the team is coming off a hard-fought tie, the Irish are relatively rested going into their road trip.

“A tie on the road at Michigan State wasn’t the worst result,” Clark said. “It’s not going to hurt us if we can take something out these three games.”

The Irish hope to bring wins home to South Bend for their final homestand.

“Winning’s a habit and not winning’s a habit,” Clark said. “The important thing is to get back into that good habit of winning.”