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Men’s Soccer: Conference games provide test

Eric Retter | Friday, September 15, 2006

More than one.

That’s how many consecutive wins No. 12/18 Notre Dame is hoping it will have at the end of its two-game weekend road trip.

The Irish (3-2-1, 1-1-0 Big East) are looking for their first winning streak of the season this weekend when they face off against Louisville (2-3-1, 1-1-0 Big East) in Louisville Friday night before heading north to face Cincinnati (1-4-1, 1-1-0 Big East) Sunday.

Notre Dame is coming off a 1-1 showing last weekend at Alumni Field, falling to South Florida 2-0 Friday night before topping DePaul 3-0 Sunday. The Irish have struggled in their Friday night games, going 0-2-1 with no goals, while they are undefeated on Sundays with 12 goals in three games.

While both opponents have had rough starts, Irish head coach Bobby Clark is not concerned with his team overlooking an opponent.

“In our schedule, you can’t overlook one team,” he said. “St. Francis [who the Irish beat 1-0 in an exhibition game] was 26 seconds away from beating [No. 3] Virginia, and they’re 1-5. If you start reading into results, then you’re in trouble.”

The Irish will be led by All-American midfielder Greg Dalby, who scored his first goal of the season in Sunday’s win over DePaul. He will share the load with forwards Joseph Lapira and Justin McGeeney, who have five goals and three goals this season, respectively.

The Cardinals will be led by midfielder David Guzman, who has tallied four goals and two assists in five games played for Louisville this season. Guzman scored Louisville’s lone goal when the two teams met last year, a 2-1 Notre Dame victory.

Throughout the week, the Irish have not tailored their approach to either of their specific opponents.

“We focus on our system, [and] we practice on it,” Clark said. “We don’t change our system from week to week. It’s not rocket science – soccer – it’s pretty simple stuff. It’s getting the execution right and working.”

Cincinnati enters the weekend with only one goal in its last five games, and it broke a four-game scoreless streak Sunday in a 2-1 to Pittsburgh. Playing at Cincinnati will represent a new challenge for the Irish, as the Bearcats will host them on an artificial turf field.

Notre Dame, however, is totally focused on its match with Louisville until it concludes Friday night.

“We’ll have all Friday night and all Saturday to start dissecting and looking into Cincinnati,” Clark said.

Even when the Irish do begin preparing for Cincinnati, Clark said too much opponent-specific training can serve as a distraction.

“You can look at a game tape, so that’s all you need,” he said. “We don’t over worry about the opposition. We respect the opposition, but at the end of the day we are much more concerned with what we do in the game.”