Irish look ahead to Michigan matchup
Kit Loughran | Monday, October 6, 2014
The Irish kick off the second half of their 2014 campaign tonight, hoping to wash away the bitter result from the end of the first half.No. 3 Notre Dame (5-2-2, 2-1-1 ACC) travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on out-of-conference rival Michigan (2-5-2, 1-1-2 Big Ten). The Irish return to the pitch after a 1-0 home loss to Boston College on Friday night, bringing their four-game unbeaten streak to an end.
With the second half of the season set to begin, Notre Dame looks to respond to Friday’s loss with a victory over the Wolverines.
“There still are plenty of regular season games left and our end goal [of a national championship] is still achievable,” senior forward Vince Cicciarelli said. “We just have to get a positive result against Michigan to get back on track.”
The Irish and Wolverines met last season at Alumni Stadium, and Notre Dame protected its home turf with a 3-0 win. Former Irish midfielder Harrison Shipp posted a goal and assist, but the remainder of Notre Dame’s scoring effort came from goals netted by graduate student forward Leon Brown and junior midfielder Evan Panken off an assist from senior defender Luke Mishu. Graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall tallied eight saves. With many of the same players taking the field tonight, the Irish aim for their 11th all-time victory over Michigan.
“If we just play to our strengths and finish our chances, then there’s no doubt we can replicate last year’s win against Michigan,” Cicciarelli said.
Michigan enters the match after a 2-1 overtime win against Wisconsin on Saturday. Junior forward James Murphy and senior midfielder Colin McAtee lead the Wolverine attack, each with two goals on the season. Graduate student goalkeeper Adam Grinwis holds a .750 save percentage.“They have a lot of very talented players,” Cicciarelli said. “Although they may not be having the season they hoped for, it just takes one game to put it all together and we know that. So, it is key that we don’t overlook them by any means.”
Though the Irish lost to ACC-rival Boston College, Notre Dame dominated the majority of Friday’s game. While the Eagles netted the lone goal of the match in the 15th minute, the Irish outshot their opponent 19-3 over 90 minutes of play.
Besides the loss to Boston College, the Irish dominated the first half of their season, with only one other setback in a 1-0 loss to Kentucky on Sept. 8 However, they immediately responded to that loss with a 1-0 road win over Syracuse on Sept. 13.
With a veteran defense protecting its goal, Notre Dame continues to work on its offense. The team maintains 1.22 shots scored per game with 16.1 shots on goal per game. Cicciarelli said the Irish look to tighten their attack against the Wolverines and as they progress through the second half of their season.
“Our defense has played really well this whole season,” Cicciarelli said. “We hope to continue shutting down teams on the defensive side and hopefully our offense can really start syncing to give them some relief.”
The Irish play non-conference rival Michigan tonight at U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor at 7:30 p.m.