Irish look to extend three-game win streak
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, October 2, 2015
No. 7 Notre Dame, riding a three-game win streak, will travel to North Carolina for the second time in two weeks to face North Carolina State.
The last time the Irish (7-2-1, 2-1 ACC) traveled to North Carolina, they conceded a season-high four goals to the Tar Heels in a top-five matchup. This time around, Notre Dame hopes to flip the results in its favor against the Wolfpack (6-2-1, ACC 1-1-1).
“It’ll be another tough game,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “We watched some video on them and they’re certainly a good team. Just like all the ACC teams, they’ll be a challenge. They’re well coached by Kelly Findley, and he used to be down there in Butler, and he did a good job.”
NC State is coming off a 1-1 tie against No. 24 Louisville. Despite having a similar record to Notre Dame, the Wolfpack have been left out of the top 25, but they arguably one of the most consistent offenses in the ACC. The Wolfpack have scored seven goals in both the first and second periods. They have outshot their opponents 107 to 72 while splitting that almost evenly in the first and second periods at 50 and 49, respectively; the other eight shots have come in overtime periods. Naturally, those eight shots are split 4-4 between first and second overtime periods. They also have 17 more corner kicks than their opponents; 27 were in the first period and the other 26 were in the second.
Two of their most efficient offensive weapons, junior midfielder Yanni Hachem and sophomore midfielder Zach Knudson, have both scored three goals and dished out one assist this season, tying them for first in total points with seven.
In regards to honing in on a scheme to shut down the Wolfpack’s offense, Clark said he doesn’t think the Irish need to change much.
“We’ve just got to play our game,” Clark said. “We don’t change very much regardless of who we play. The only game I felt like we got outworked was in the first half of the Xavier game, and we lost. So we can’t get outworked. That’s got to be the key.”
Against No. 11 Virginia, the Wolfpack failed to get a score on the board, falling 1-0. Then against Louisville last week, NC State hung in the game and went blow for blow with the Cardinals in the close matchup. Louisville scored in the first period, and the Wolfpack responded a minute later with a cross to redshirt senior midfielder Philip Carmon for a score. Their ability to remain persistent can prove to be an obstacle for the Irish.
Despite dropping two straight matches in September to Xavier and North Carolina, Clark said his team is confident it can get on a roll to close out the second half of the season in hopes of locking down a top seed in the ACC tournament.
“It’s going to take 100 percent concentration,” Clark said. “The last time we were in North Carolina, we lost our concentration on two goals. One on a throw-in with six seconds left, and the other was when we gave away the free kick. We decided to talk to the referee instead of focusing on the game. We’ve got to keep the three Cs: consistency, confidence and concentration.”
As they move into the second half of the 2015 campaign, graduate student defender Max Lachowecki said the Irish need to focus on playing each game with maximum concentration, which has been emphasized across the team.
“I hope [concentration] is something we’ve accumulated over the season and hopefully continue to maintain that focus,” Lachowecki said. “Especially in games, any time there’s a break in play, making sure that everyone I just locked in to set piece or a throw in is important. Just like that corner we gave up against Xavier; that’s how we lost. They didn’t really have any other great chances, but it’s one lapse in concentration, and we go down a goal.”
If Hurricane Joaquin spares the East Coast this weekend, Notre Dame will face off against NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday at 1 p.m.