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Men’s Soccer: Irish look to road test

By Isaac Lorton | Thursday, October 11, 2012

After a tough road loss to Northwestern, No. 7 Notre Dame looks to bounce back on the road in a Big East showdown against Seton Hall.

The Irish (10-3-0, 2-2-0 Big East) need this win against the Pirates (6-6-0, 2-1-0) in order to take another step toward gaining a berth in the Big East tournament as one of the top-5 teams, Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

“There are a lot of big things coming up after this game,” Clark said. “The [Big East Championships] are approaching and we want to be in the top five, but more importantly the top three, so we can get a bye. The four and five team have a play-in game, and we don’t want that. It’s not going to be easy though. There are four teams in the blue division who are in the top 15 of the country and only three of us can get a bye. So, this game, as well as every other game, has huge implications. With a win, we get a road win and we are getting closer to one of those top-3 spots.”

Clark said the coaches and players have gone over tapes of the Northwestern game and are working to fix some small issues.

“We have to take a good look at the tapes and digest the Northwestern game, then put a plan together,” Clark said.

The Irish do not know what to expect out of a historically hot-and-cold Seton Hall team, Clark said.

“You never know what Seton Hall team is going to show up,” Clark said. “Last year, when UConn was number one in the country and hadn’t loss in the Big East and Seton Hall had not won a game in the Big East yet, Seton Hall beat them.”

Seton Hall’s long-time coach Manny Schellscheidt retired last year and assistant coach Gerson Echeverry has since assumed the position of head coach. Clark said he does not know how this change has affected Seton Hall as a team.

“Seton Hall is always pretty good,” Clark said. “Usually, they are very technical and skillful. They have a new coach this year, so we are not quite sure how they will play.”

Clark said he believes the game will be a tight matchup.

“Every time we go there, it is always a close game,” Clark said. “It is never easy, so I wouldn’t expect this one to be any different. I have never had an easy game at Seton hall. We are preparing for a tough game.”

Seton Hall will rely on two players in particular – junior forwards Max Garcia and George Velasquez – to lead the Pirates against the Irish. Garcia has amassed six goals and three assists for 15 points this season, while Velasquez has three goals and three assists for nine points. This duo makes up more than half of the 16 total goals and 11 total assists for the Pirates.

Although the loss at Northwestern was a setback, Clark said the artificial turf field at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill., helps the Irish prepare for the artificial turf at Owen T. Carroll Field in New Jersey. Both fields are products of the same artificial turf company, FieldTurf.

“It is another game on FieldTurf,” Clark said. “Our guys play quite well on turf, so it should not be a problem for us.”

The Irish seek to take one step closer to the Big East playoffs as they head to South Orange, N. J., on Saturday to take on Seton Hall.

Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]