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Men’s Soccer

Irish to open ACC play against rival Eagles

| Thursday, September 7, 2017

Coming off a 1-0 road win against former Big East foe UConn on Saturday, No. 6 Notre Dame will again hit the road this weekend as it prepares for another rival: Boston College.

Irish senior forward Jon Gallagher takes on a Cal Poly opponent during Notre Dame's Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament on Aug. 25 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish won 2-1 in double overtime.Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior forward Jon Gallagher takes on a Cal Poly opponent during Notre Dame’s Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament on Aug. 25 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish won 2-1 in double overtime.

The Irish (3-0-0) will look to keep their perfect record intact as they visit the Eagles (2-2-0) for both teams’ ACC opener. Although Boston College has lost both of its last two matches, including a 3-2 double overtime loss to Xavier on Monday, Irish head coach Bobby Clark believes the Eagles are better than their middling record indicates, and noted the Irish have recently had a bit of trouble in this rivalry.

“They’re a talented team,” Clark said. “They’ve got a lot of players that can handle the ball well; they’re a pretty well-balanced team. In the games I’ve watched them play they’ve played well, even the games they lost I felt they were the better side, so I think they’re a good team. I don’t think we’ve beaten them since we’ve been in [the ACC]. It’ll be a hard game, it’s a smaller field than we’re used to playing on, and it’s a turf field, so those are some things we’ve got to handle. If we do things properly we should be in good shape, but it won’t be an easy game.”

The Notre Dame defense will have to constantly be aware of Boston College junior forward Simon Enstrom, who has four goals to his name so far this season. In addition, Eagles midfielder Heidar Aegisson may also present a problem, as the sophomore has four assists on the season, which ranks fourth nationally and second in the ACC.

Although they have yet to lose, with the ACC gauntlet and several tough non-conference games looming, Clark believes the Irish are both in need of and capable of improvement in every sector of the game.

“We can get a little better in every area,” Clark said. “I think our transition can certainly improve, and even our defending, especially in the wide areas. We’re still working on that a little bit,” he said. “I thought we did well at UConn, and I think we can certainly defend — individual defending — but our pressuring can get better. We always talk about our little pairs all over the field … can these become tandems that really work together? I think we’re getting there … but every game we can build from where we are and try to improve.”

Although a road game against Boston College would normally be labeled a marquee matchup that figures to be one of Notre Dame’s tougher tests, the Irish have such a rigorous regular season schedule — strength of schedule is ranked No. 9 nationally — that Clark considers Friday’s match just another game to build upon, but hopes the Irish can start ACC play on the right foot.

“It’s just another big game, and that’s the great thing about our schedule,” Clark said. “When you play a lot of big games, you just go from one to another and then you build on them. Every ACC game’s obviously huge, as they’re all good teams … and hopefully we can take the enthusiasm and persistence that we had at UConn and recapture that at Chestnut Hill, [Massachusetts].”

The Irish and Eagles will kick off Friday at 5:00 p.m. at Newton Soccer Field.

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to formerly serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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