Irish to begin ACC play in New York
Zach Klonsinski | Thursday, September 11, 2014
The team in white stood in silence, watching the team in blue erupt in jubilation. Such was the scene on Monday night after Kentucky scored a goal with only 25 seconds remaining in regulation to upset No. 4 Notre Dame, 1-0. A stunned quiet engulfed Alumni Stadium as the squad made its way into the locker room and the fans filed out.“They just put a pin in us,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I don’t think it actually even sunk in. It was kind of a ‘How did this happen?’”
The Irish (2-1-1) dominated most of the game, outshooting their opponents 18-5 for the match and 10-1 in the second half. Kentucky (2-2-0) at times had 10 and sometimes even all 11 players inside its own penalty box, trying to clog up wave after wave of Notre Dame attacks that threatened to overwhelm them. Then, suddenly, the Wildcats scored.
“Soccer is a strange game,” Clark said. “You possibly play your best game of the year so far and you end up losing 1-0. You don’t play particularly well in the Saturday game [against Dartmouth] and you win 4-1. I’m still trying to seek answers for this, and I’ve been doing it for long time.
“It was a pity because I thought the team played very well.”
It was the second time in three games Notre Dame outshot its opponent but could not find the back of the net. The Irish outshot then-No. 9 Georgetown 23-9 on Aug. 31, but battled to a scoreless draw with the Hoyas. This pattern is part of what makes Saturday’s matchup with No. 20 Syracuse so intriguing for Notre Dame.
The Orange (4-0-0) have yet to allow a goal in the regular season behind the play of junior goalkeeper Alex Bono, who was selected to the College Soccer News Team of the Week for his two shutouts against Rutgers and St. John’s last week. Clark said he knows the team is going to have to somehow to put one past him if they want a victory.
“You’ve got to find a way,” Clark said. “You put four in against Dartmouth, and Dartmouth is a pretty good team. … You obviously want to score goals, and it makes it really nice, but the big thing is you want to score one more than them.
“I wrote ‘Patience’ on the board at halftime [against Kentucky] because I think we were getting a little frustrated with ourselves. … We just had to keep our confidence and I actually thought we did that.”
The game this weekend will be the first conference game for the Irish this year as they look to defend last year’s ACC championship title. Clark said there really are not any easy games remaining on the schedule for Notre Dame, especially in a conference that features six teams ranked in the top 25; No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Louisville, No. 12 Maryland, and No. 15 Virginia join the Irish and Orange.
“I think if you can get off to a good start, it’s great, but regardless of what the start is we’ve got to play,” Clark said. “We’ve got to start playing. It’s going to be a league where I don’t think anyone is going to go through this league without losing games. We had an amazing year last year.
“Can we do that again? Well we better start winning some games if we’re going to equal it. Our key is to get into the tournament and you’ve got to win enough games to get in … Got to start winning some games, so we might as well start with a road game. This will be a good test.”
The Irish and Orange are familiar foes, having played against each other in the Big East for years before coming over to the ACC.“It’s tough because this is the third time in three years we’ve had to go to Syracuse,” Clark said with a smile. “I don’t know how the scheduling has worked out, but it’s not been a lot of fun.”
The Irish will have to rebound from the heartbreak of last weekend’s tournament to get a tough win in New York, but Clark said he is confident his team will be ready.
“It’s how do you react, respond,” Clark said. “This team hasn’t been used to losing games, so I think they’ll respond. … They are looking forward just to getting on the field again. When you’ve had a disappointment you want to go out and play.”
Notre Dame will get that opportunity Saturday when they take on the Orange at SU Soccer Stadium in Syracuse, New York, at 7 p.m.