Notre Dame prepares to host Michigan
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, October 10, 2017
After toppling No. 5 Clemson on the road, No. 9 Notre Dame faces another test in Big Ten opponent Michigan, who it will host at Alumni Stadium on Tuesday.
Playing the Wolverines (7-3-1, 4-1-1 Big Ten) every year, the Irish (8-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) walked off the field last year with a 2-0 win over Michigan, but Irish head Coach Bobby Clark said this year’s Michigan squad is the best he has seen since he has been here.
“This is a very good Michigan team,” Clark said. “For me, this is the best Michigan team I’ve seen since they went to the Final Four in Santa Barbara, [California], a few years ago. Michigan has very talented players, and they won’t be an easy game.”
Previously beating Clemson 2-1 on the backs of a free kick in the 88th minute by senior forward Jon Gallagher that was headed into the net by senior forward Jeff Farina, the Irish will need to continue making the most of their set pieces, Clark said.
“I think we’ve almost led the country in the number of set pieces,” Clark said. “I don’t know if our percentage is that good, it should maybe be better. We spend some time on set pieces — it’s one of the three things we really want to be good at. To be fair, I think we can get a lot better, but we are working at it. We spent some time [Monday], and in general the day before a game we spend some time talking about it during video, as big games are won and lost in set pieces. Big games have [been] won with set pieces, and we can look at our own from last Friday.”
Even though the Irish will be in the confines of Alumni Stadium for Tuesday’s match, Clark said the Michigan game will not be any easier than the Clemson game.
“I would say Clemson was very powerful, but having said that, I don’t think there will be a big gulf,” Clark said. “Only thing is that we will be playing Michigan at home, at a familiar territory. But if we were playing this team at Michigan, would it be harder? I don’t know. I think home field advantage is roughly overstated. We have about the same size fields. They’re a good team, and I don’t see them being easy.”
Continuing to work together well with Gallagher and put points on the board, Farina has been more of a threat in the box this year than in seasons past, Clark said.
“If Jeffrey [Farina] gets himself in the box, he will score goals, and he has been doing that better this year,” he said. “He’s very good at setting up plays outside the box — he links up well. But after he’s linked up, he then has to get in the box [because] he can be a very good guy to get on the end of things. This year, he is either getting goals or he is around goals. Him and Jon are tremendous and play off one another well.”
The Irish and the Wolverines will face off Tuesday at Alumni Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.