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Men’s soccer: Irish set to face Marquette

Greg Arbogast | Wednesday, September 27, 2006

With its 3-1 win Saturday night over Pittsburgh, No. 21 Notre Dame made a move up the Big East’s Blue Division, and tonight it will have an opportunity to continue its ascent when it takes on Marquette at 7 p.m. on Alumni Field.

The Irish (5-3-2 overall, 3-2-0 Big East) have nine points in conference play – four points behind first-place Connecticut and West Virginia. After beating Pittsburgh, Notre Dame leapfrogged the Panthers in the standings and now sits alone in fifth place.

Notre Dame’s statistics are not reflective of its place in the bottom half of the Big East. The Irish lead the league in shots and corner kicks and have scored the second-most goals in the conference.

“If you look at the statistics, we have been generating offense,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “You feel we could have done so much better, but hopefully the missed opportunities are behind us. We’re very close.”

Notre Dame will have an opportunity to make up ground against Marquette. The Golden Eagles enter the game 1-8-1 (0-5-0 Big East) and are the only team in the Blue Division without a point. They trail Georgetown, the second-to-last place team, by six points.

Marquette has lost two games to teams the Irish have beaten – Louisville and DePaul – and enter the game fresh off a 1-0 conference loss to Providence.

Despite Marquette’s record, Clark is not letting his team take its opponent lightly.

“You have to be very careful, especially in the Big East, as the last-place team can beat the first-place team on any given day,” he said. “This is a must-win game for them, so we have to be ready to match their effort. We have to take their best shot early, and then establish ourselves into the game.”

The Irish face the temptation of looking past Marquette and to their game against Seton Hall. The Pirates are currently tied for second place in the Blue Division standings – only three points ahead of Notre Dame.

Clark insists, however, that Saturday’s game will not be a distraction.

“You get the same three points for beating Marquette as you do for beating Seton Hall,” he said. “The only person in this office who’s looked at Seton Hall is the travel manager. Everybody else is focused on Marquette.”