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Men’s Soccer: Irish have chance to end streak vs. G-town

Greg Arbogast | Friday, October 3, 2008

Notre Dame will be in an unfamiliar position when it takes the field this Sunday against No. 24 Georgetown – the Irish will be looking to halt a losing streak.

No. 8 Notre Dame’s seven-game unbeaten streak ended last Sunday at Louisville thanks to a last-minute Cardinals’ penalty kick in regulation and game-winning header in overtime. Wednesday night, the Irish lost 3-1 to rivals Michigan in Ypsilanti. Those results have given Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark his first regular season back-to-back losses during his eight-year tenure in South Bend.

“Every team we’re playing is a test, and for me that’s fantastic,” Clark said after Wednesday’s loss to Michigan. “What more do you want than to go out and play against a good team.”

A stern test is exactly what Georgetown will provide the Irish with this Sunday at Alumni Field. The Hoyas enter Sunday’s game with a 7-2-1 record, impressive enough for Georgetown to rank in the top 25 for the first time this season.

After starting Big East play with consecutive losses, the Hoyas went undefeated in their last three conference games. With seven points, they currently occupy third place in the Blue Division behind Notre Dame (10 points) and Connecticut (9 points).

Those records are a marked improvement over one year ago. In 2007, Georgetown finished with a losing record overall of 7-11-1, and its conference mark of 5-5-1 was good enough for only a fifth place finish.

“They are really flying high this year,” Clark said. “They are also in the (Big East) Blue Division with us, so this game will have a direct bearing on where we end up.”

A big reason for the Hoyas’ turnaround from last year has been the play of their defense. Through 10 games this year, Georgetown has allowed only four goals and has shut out its opponent seven times.

“They have two very strong central defenders, and they have a very good defensive midfielder,” Clark said. “It’s a balanced team, and it’s very well coached.”

Notre Dame’s defense has not been as stingy. After an impressive start to the season that included a seven-game stretch where the defense allowed only three goals, the Irish have given up five during their two-game losing streak.

Despite the recent drop in defensive results, Clark hasn’t been upset with his defense’s performance.

“In both [losses], I think the team has played well,” Clark said. “We know we’re going to be judged by results, but you also have to look at how the team plays. We have to take ourselves away from getting sucked in to [concentrating on results], and we have to concentrate on how we play.”

Georgetown coach Brian Wiese played for Clark at Dartmouth and later served as an assistant coach under Clark at both Stanford and Dartmouth.