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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish face off against Louisville in first ACC match of the season

| Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Notre Dame is set to begin its conference schedule this week, preparing to face off against Louisville in a road match Thursday.

Thursday’s game will be the first in a crowded slate of 10 ACC matchups for the Irish (4-4-0) taking them to the end of the regular season. Irish head coach Nate Norman says he and his team are looking forward to the intense competition over the next month.

“They’re excited to start ACC play,” he said. “It’s a fantastic conference, and I think it’s the most competitive conference in the country.”

Anna Mason | The Observer
Irish senior defender Sabrina Flores protects the ball in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Cincinnati on Aug. 30 at Alumni Stadium.

In the eight previous games, the Irish had to contend with some difficult opponents. Among Notre Dame’s non-conference foes were No. 6 Santa Clara (7-1-1) and No. 1 Stanford (7-0-1).

“We had a very difficult non-conference schedule,” he said. “It challenged us in a lot of ways and helped us learn a lot about ourselves.”

Norman has been having his team work on shoring up its defensive play, especially in transition.

“I think we’ve been a little bit disappointed collectively in terms of how many goals we’ve given up,” he said. “We talked a lot about our defensive organization, dealing with counter attacks. … We’ve talked a lot about communicating and making sure everyone’s on the same page and really creating a common language for each other.”

The Irish have been taking advantage the brief break between non-conference and conference play, and they have been using that period to prepare for the Cardinals (7-1-0).

“We’ve had 11, 12 days since our last game,” Norman said. “We feel like we’re in a really good spot going into the game. We feel like we’ve grown a lot over that time, and we hope to keep growing … and keep getting better to keep playing our best soccer at the end of the year.”

Louisville has sustained only one loss in 2018, a 2-1 defeat to Purdue on Sept. 6. The Cardinals have collectively outscored their opponents 25-6, and four of their seven wins have been shutouts.

“They’re a very direct team,” he said. “They do put a lot of numbers behind the ball and they’re very good defensively.”

The Irish are certain to have a difficult challenge ahead of them, but Norman expects to see Notre Dame rise to the occasion.

“If we can deal with them from that counter attack standpoint and make sure we kick the ball very well and we really control the game and are efficient, I think we’ll be fine,” he said.

After Thursday?

“Our goals are simple,” Norman said. “We want to win the ACC championship.”

Thursday’s match is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.

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