Irish look to capitalize on double-bye in ACC tournament
Noah Furneri | Thursday, April 26, 2018
Notre Dame has already launched into postseason play with a winning record to earn them the fourth seed in the ACC tournament this weekend.
The No. 4 seeding gives the Irish (17-12, 7-5 ACC) a double-bye in the first two rounds of tournament play and allows the team time to focus on training for their upcoming Friday match.
Notre Dame will be playing the winner of Thursday’s match between No. 12-seed Georgia Tech and No. 5-seed Virginia Tech. Notre Dame beat both teams during the regular season, with the Irish sweeping the Hokies 7-0 in late March and defeating the Yellow Jackets 5-2 last weekend.
Despite Notre Dame’s familiarity with the possible opponents, Irish head coach Ryan Sachire is exhorting his team to stay on its toes because every match could be very different from the last.
“We have played every team in the league during the regular season,” Sachire said. “So we are familiar with them, they are familiar with us. Honestly, all three matches were highly competitive. Every time you play somebody it is a different match, it will be a different circumstance, it will be a different contest. So it is well to have that familiarity, but we know the matches will play out differently in competition. We have a lot of respect for all three teams. We are excited to play and compete and do our best this Friday.”
Their best will be exactly what they need Friday. With their double-bye, the Irish only need to win the next two matches to compete in the ACC finals Sunday, a position Sachire led the Irish to in 2000 as captain under coach Bobby Bayliss — and now he hopes to do so again.
“We are pretty confident right now,” Sachire said. “I want the team to build and continue to improve. We have won five of our last six matches. Doing that is a really good thing as you go into the postseason. We also want to continue to not just be at the level we have been at, but continue to get better. Our mindset has been very good the past three weeks to give us that competitive edge in order to compete over the weekend. So our mindset the next few days at practice will be to improve and get better. If we keep that up we will be a hard team to beat this weekend.”
Throughout the season, one of Notre Dame’s strengths has been its ability to win singles matches. This gives the team the confidence to win, even if it drops the doubles points, Sachire said.
“Winning the doubles points make us a really strong team,” he said. “That being said, even when we lose the doubles match — we can win four singles matches even if we lose the doubles so that we can still win the team match. Our lineup shapes out that our strengths is in the singles, so if we win that doubles point we only need to win three of the six singles matches to win the team matches. Although it is a good point of emphasis we do not see it as a need, because again we can come back and win four singles. But it does put us in a good position to win the team match.”
Whether or not they will be put in a spot where they will need to win four singles matches, Sachire said he is proud of his team as a whole and expects nothing but greatness from the unit this weekend.
“Every single doubles team and every singles player, all nines positions, won at least one time last weekend. That is something you really want as a coach to be able to win at all nine spots in the lineup, and that is what we did last weekend. That being said I think the team will really come to play this weekend, come to saddle and build on what we did last weekend.”
Notre Dame will play in the third round of the ACC championship Friday at 3 p.m. in Cary, North Carolina.