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Men’s Soccer: Irish prepare for ‘great ACC Battle’ with Duke

Samantha Zuba | Friday, September 27, 2013

The No. 2 Irish look to remain unbeaten Friday in their third home game of the season against Duke at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame (3-0-3, 1-0-2 ACC) opened last season at home against the Blue Devils (4-2-2, 0-2-1 ACC). The Irish won the tight match 1-0. Duke still fields a lot of talent this season, Irish coach Bobby Clark said.
“It was certainly a well-contested game,” Clark said. “They will be a team that tries to win the game, not a team to sit back, and they have a lot of good players to do that. It should be a great ACC battle.”
Blue Devils freshman forward Brody Huitema has given Duke a spark by scoring four goals and taking 29 shots through eight games. The Blue Devils, however, have such a deep roster that Notre Dame will treat every player as a scoring threat when the game starts, Clark said. Duke has taken 141 shots on the season, while its opponents have attempted 93.
“I think you’ve got to take the approach that everyone is talented and can score goals,” Clark said. “They have a lot of big players. The striker [Huitema] is a freshman and has already proven he can score goals. He’s a strong player, and I have nothing but strong comments on his ability, but we’re going to treat them all like top players unless the game proves differently.”
Duke’s offense has proved its talent with 12 goals on the season, but the defense has allowed 10. Notre Dame, anchored on defense by senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall, has allowed just three goals this season.
Clark said he would like to think the Irish can take advantage and score several goals, but his real concern is scoring one more than the Blue Devils.
“The main thing is we need to score one more than them,” Clark said. “I think that’s the key to the game. If we could score a few, that would be nice, but realistically, if we could score one more than them, that’s the objective for this moment.”
Notre Dame has taken 112 shots this season, more than double the total for its opponents, but the Irish have converted only 10 of those chances into goals. Seven of those 10 goals have come in the first period of games.
The Irish have to work on scoring consistently, whether it’s early or late in the game, Clark said.
“I think last year it was the opposite,” he said. “We scored a lot more goals in the second period. I don’t really care when we score, as long as we score them. I just want to see us scoring goals. That’s the main thing.”
Last Friday, the Irish played Boston College in Newton, Mass., in front of 2,000 fans. The crowd helped provide a competitive atmosphere, and Clark said he hoped Notre Dame fans can do the same for the Irish at home for the key ACC matchup with Duke.
“We’re hoping for a big turnout on Friday night, and I think there should be a good crowd,” Clark said. “A lot of alumni are coming out. It’s a good game and I hope our students come out, too. The students stand behind the goals and I think our players respond well to that.”
Notre Dame and Duke clash Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

Contact Samantha Zuba at [email protected]