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Men’s Soccer

Irish to rely on leadership, depth as team enters ACC play

| Thursday, September 7, 2017

With a 3-0 start to the season, healthy, key players back on the turf and determined underclassmen, the Irish have the building blocks to battle through their ACC schedule this year.

One player that has continually been able to impact games since his return is senior forward Jeff Farina. Last year Farina was injured during a match against Louisville, but he’s healthy and back with senior forward Jon Gallagher, consistently putting pressure on the opposition’s defense.

Irish senior forward Jeff Farina maneuvers around a defender during Notre Dame's 2-0 win over San Diego on Aug. 25.Rosie LoVoi | The Observer
Irish senior forward Jeff Farina maneuvers around a defender during Notre Dame’s 2-0 win over San Diego on Aug. 25.

“It’s great to have him back fit,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s the fittest I’ve had him for a few years, even last year he was very good, but there was always one or two little dings and this is the first time he’s been free from injury since freshman year. But Jon is a tremendous partner for him, the two of them together are great. They are different, but they are a great tandem. They know exactly what each other is going to do. When Jon’s doing well I’m praising Jeffrey, and when Jeffrey’s doing well I’m praising Jon. Jon makes the runs that create space for Jeffrey and then Jeffrey can play him in. It’s great to have them together.”

In addition to Farina and Gallagher taking leadership in the opponent’s half, senior defensemen have taken on the role of helping and developing younger players, further maximizing their potential.

“[Senior defender] Matt Habrowski, our captain and leader, was injured [at University of Connecticut],” Clark said. “It was [sophomore defender] Senan Farrelly who had to step in and he did good job with [senior defender] Patrick Berneski. Both are Philadelphia boys. Berneski obviously older, but he looked after Senan well during the game. The fullbacks worked hard together, but the whole team did. The most important thing is being there for the team.”

As the players on the field continue to build upon each performance, Clark said he has a promising freshman class that contributes to the team’s environment.

“The younger players are doing well,” Clark said. “Few of the freshmen are almost there. We will be giving them a look fairly soon. They’ve only been here a month so they’ve got to learn. There’s a great attitude throughout the class. We call them the pit ponies, the ones used to carry coal down in the pit. They’re really great pit ponies because they do a lot of chores and they are very willing to do so. Just terrific young men in general and a fun group.”

Despite the talented roster and undefeated start to the 2017 season, Clark said the team has a long, challenging schedule ahead that will test the players week by week.

“There’s a good energy throughout the team now, hopefully we can keep it,” Clark said. “There’s a long way to go and nothing is guaranteed. We aren’t going to get too excited yet, it’s going to be another hard game at Boston College. All the ACC games are challenging but they are fun, that’s why we enjoy being in this conference.”

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About Meagan Bens

Meagan is a junior Visual Communication Design major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor living in Lyons Hall. She serves as a sports writer and hails from the suburbs of Chicago.

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