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Men’s Soccer: Team prepares to host regular season finale

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, October 31, 2011

After rescheduling the game twice due to weather, the No. 14 Irish will give their last regular season game against Seton Hall a third try at noon today at Alumni Stadium.

The match, originally scheduled for Oct. 19, was postponed because of inclement weather and rescheduled for Monday. After Seton Hall’s game against Connecticut on Saturday was postponed due to snow on the East Coast, however, Monday’s rescheduled game had to be pushed back again, ultimately to Tuesday.

“It’s been weird for sure,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Somehow we always manage to play them. The field was literally underwater our first game and, obviously, the snowstorm was a big snowstorm. It was two fairly freak turns of nature that caused it. Hopefully, it’s third time lucky.”

The Irish (8-4-4, 4-3-1 Big East) return to action after dropping a 2-0 decision to No. 25 West Virginia. In the loss, Notre Dame held the Mountaineers to just two shots on goal while producing five of their own.

“It was just a bad game,” sophomore forward Harry Shipp said. “We were playing well, won our last three games on the road. Things just didn’t go our way.”

The season finale against Seton Hall (5-10-2, 1-7-0) will decide Notre Dame’s seed for the upcoming Big East tournament. With a win, the Irish — currently in fourth place in the tight Big East Blue division — would host Villanova in the first round of the tournament. With a loss, however, Notre Dame will travel to St. John’s. The Irish lost earlier this season to the Red Storm, 2-1.

“This is a huge game,” Clark said. “If we had played it two weeks ago, it would still be an important game but it has taken huge proportions now for a lot of reasons. [A home game] is huge for us because it allows the guys to relax and be at home.”

Shipp, who scored three goals over the last three matches, is tied with junior forward Ryan Finley for the team lead with five goals each.

“[I’m] finding better places around the goal,” Shipp said. “Earlier in the season, I was making runs and the ball just didn’t seem to find me. It’s more luck than anything.”

Notre Dame is unbeaten in their last nine meetings with Seton Hall, holding a 7-0-2 record over that time. Additionally, the Pirates have only defeated the Irish once in South Bend, a 1-0 decision in 2000. Seton Hall, who will not make the Big East tournament, will conclude their season Tuesday.

The Pirates will enter Alumni Stadium after snapping a seven-game losing streak by beating then-No. 3 Connecticut, 1-0. The win marked the Pirates’ first victory over a ranked opponent since 2005. Earlier in the season, Seton Hall held then-No. 1 Maryland to a scoreless draw.

“They’re a very good team,” Clark said. “They handle the ball well. This will be a good challenge. But we’re a good team, too.”

Seton Hall sophomore forward Max Garcia has scored a team-high five goals this season — accounting for nearly a third of the Pirates’ total — while firing 57 of the team’s 206 shots. Freshman midfielder Damian Bziukiewicz, meanwhile, leads the team with four assists.

“We need to win,” Clark said. “We need to win a couple of games to get an at-large bid in the NCAA [Tournament]. That’s another big, big part of this.”

Notre Dame and Seton Hall finally finish the regular season with a tilt at noon in Alumni Stadium today.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]