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Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame set for tough weekend

| Friday, August 31, 2018

Following a draw in its season opener versus Saint Louis, No. 24 Notre Dame is set for a tough two-match road trip against No. 18 UConn and No. 22 Dartmouth. The Irish, who already have the toughest schedule in the country, will be in for quite the challenge given that they will face two of the best teams in a span of three days. Head coach Chad Riley noted the physical difficulty of playing these double weekends, but expressed confidence in his team’s fitness adding that smart play will be the difference between losing and winning.

“[Having two games in a weekend] is very taxing. … Props to the team — they’re in good shape, they came in fit, they’ve worked through the preseason — I think we’re in a good spot to be able to deal with this but [double weekends] are hard to get through. As much as it’s going to be physical, the team that plays smarter, maximizes their chances, and is really solid defensively over these weekends are the ones that get results on both nights,” Riley said.

Despite facing two teams this weekend, the Irish are currently focused on UConn, taking it one game at a time, including watching a lot of film to know what’s the best way to play opponents. The Huskies (2-0) have started the season with two-straight wins, having allowed six shots in total. Riley said UConn has a strong, balanced and experienced team and will be a challenge for the Irish.

“Watching UConn, they’ve got very good players on the attack,” Riley said. “I think UConn’s very solid defensively — they’ve got good veterans. We’re going to have to be good with our attacking play to create chances, I don’t think they’re just going to give them to us and that’s what’s going to be the key. [UConn] is a very hungry team and they’re going to come out with a lot of energy. Overall, I think they’re a good, balanced team — they’re going to be a test for us.”

Riley will also face off against his old team, Dartmouth, who open its season Friday against No. 6 Indiana. Coming off a season in which Dartmouth won the Ivy League championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Big Green will pose a challenge for the Irish.

“I think Dartmouth has a very veteran group going forward, they know how to win games and they know how to create chances, so they’re going to be a good test for us,” Riley said.

The Irish will employ a more attack-focused style of play compared to last season, and even though adjustments will be made for every game, Riley hopes that his team will find the balance between creating quality attacks without compromising defense.

“We’re always going to make tactical adjustments, but I think at the end of the day we want to be attack-minded,” he said. “With that, you have to have that balance of: The first thing you always have to become of your team is ‘very difficult to beat’ because if you’re giving away goals then it allows the other team to fit in and consolidate. So, we have to make sure that we don’t give away goals and that the purpose of all of our attacking plays is to create quality chances.”

The Irish will take the field against UConn at 5 p.m. on Friday in Bloomington, Indiana.

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