Irish square off with VCU in midweek matchup
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, September 29, 2014
Fresh off a home victory over No. 8 North Carolina, No. 3 Notre Dame wastes no time in returning to the pitch as it welcomes VCU for a mid-week showcase at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish (4-1-2, 2-0-1 ACC) opened their home ACC schedule with the win after two road matches the weekends prior, shutting out the Tar Heels (5-3-0, 1-2-0 ACC) by a score of 2-0 with goals by freshman forward Jeffrey Farina, his first career collegiate goal, and graduate student forward Leon Brown.
“It was a big win,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It was a tough win. That was a really tough game.”Now the Irish prepare to face the Rams (3-5-1) on three days of rest. Although their record does not show it, the Rams have played a quality non-conference schedule. Of their nine games so far, four have been against teams inside the top 15, including a 2-1 overtime upset of No. 11 Georgetown on the road.
“This is a real good team,” Clark said. “They narrowly lost to [North Carolina]. I’ve watched the tape of that game. They played very well. And they again narrowly lost 1-0 at Virginia. … They’ve played an unbelievable schedule.”
In addition to the Georgetown, North Carolina and Virginia games, VCU recently finished play in the New Mexico Invitational, where they lost to the fourth-ranked Lobos, 2-0, with the second goal coming in the 75th minute.
“They’ll be a handful,” Clark said. “[They’re] very athletic, talented. This will not be an easy game. But I think that’s the test. None of our mid-week games are [easy] … I would rather try and play VCU, Indiana and Northwestern. And I think our boys look forward to these games.”While he prefers to keep the same players in his lineup, the shorter period of time between the two games and a Friday ACC matchup against Boston College may force the coaching staff to go deeper into their bench, Clark said.
“Obviously, we’ve got to try and extend our squad a little bit. That’s something we’ve got to do,” Clark said. “But you can only extend a squad with the players that get opportunities, step up and take them.”
The team’s depth will not only be tested this week, but for most of the Irish’s remaining schedule. Notre Dame will play a weekday night game every week for the rest of the regular season, facing non-conference opponents Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan State after this week’s tilt against VCU.
“I think we realize we’ll need to use our squad a little more fully than we have done with a game every weekend,” Clark said. “You don’t need a lot of subs, but I think you’ve definitely have got to look at some different options in the weeks ahead.”
Despite this, Clark said the team cannot afford to look past VCU or let their guard down Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to come out and play. You’ve got to handle a very talented team,” Clark said. “This is our home field and although the home field doesn’t win you games, this is where we’ve got to feel comfortable, where we can really play. And it’d be good to get a little run going. We haven’t really put a lot of consecutive wins together.”
Clark also said the key to the game would be focusing on the basics.
“I think the most important thing is, I always say this, ‘Can we play well?’” Clark said. “If we play well, we’ve got a fair chance of getting a ‘W.’ … We’ve got to be ready for the game.”
The Irish host the Rams on Tuesday night at Alumni Stadium, with the opening kick set for 7:30 p.m.