No. 2 Irish travel to face Michigan following first draw
Manuel De Jesus | Tuesday, October 11, 2016
No. 2 Notre Dame begins its four-game road trip Tuesday night as it travels to face off against Michigan.
The Irish (9-1-1, ACC 3-1-1) look to rebound from their first tie of the season against No. 11 Wake Forest in double overtime on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Even with the tie, Notre Dame will ride into Ann Arbor with a 3-1-1 record following their only loss of the season to Louisville on Sept. 16. The Wolverines (2-6-4) have struggled to collect just two wins so far this season, but also have been on a bit of a streak, going 2-0-1 in their last three contests.
Michigan will be led by sophomore midfielder Francis Atuahene, who leads the team with four goals and 22 shots on goal; freshman forward Jack Hallahan, who has notched three scores; and senior defender Rylee Woods, who has a team-high three assists on the year. The last time the two teams met was in 2015 when the Irish tied 1-1 at Alumni Stadium, but the most recent meeting in Ann Arbor saw the Irish fall 3-2 in 2014.
Notre Dame has emphasized that it wants to continue emphasizing the importance of finishing games with wins, even in physical contests that go into double overtime.
“We think we’re the fittest team in the country,” senior defender Brandon Aubrey said. “We try to push that on teams, and things like overtime, we feel like we can keep going. A lot of times, teams tend to sit off and look for a tie, but we’re never happy with a tie. We want to go out and win.”
Since winning the national championship in 2013, the Irish have done well with rebounding with a win after a tie. Dating back to when the current seniors were freshmen, Notre Dame is 12-2-2 following ties. It also helps when the leading contributors for the Irish are in the peak of their game midway through the season.
Aubrey is having a career season with eight goals and an assist for 17 points, as well as three penalty kick conversions, which ranks fourth in the ACC. Aubrey also currently leads all ACC defenders in goals. Junior forward Jon Gallagher is also on pace for a career season with 10 goals and four assists for 24 points.
In addition to having his players in top form, Irish head coach Bobby Clark gives his coaching staff credit for having his team prepared for the challenge that lays ahead in the four-game road trip.
“What we do is coach [Michael] Casper breaks down Michigan, coach [B.J.] Craig will be breaking down Virginia — then the next one is Northwestern, and that’ll be coach Casper,” Clark said. “One is always working on it. I never look a game ahead. I stay on one game, but [the assistants] do a really good job of getting that.”
Clark said the absences of injured sophomore forward Thomas Ueland and junior forward Jeff Farina against the Demon Deacons was a factor in how the game turned out.
“We played [Wake Forest] without two of our strikers,” Clark said. “Both Thomas and Jeff were off because they were injured. So, hopefully we get them back, and it’ll give us some more depth.”
Notre Dame will look to add another win to their record on Tuesday as they face Michigan at UM Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.