Irish face another top-10 team at home
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 4, 2018
Facing one of the toughest schedules in the country, Notre Dame will have host its fourth top-10 opponent of the season this Saturday when the No. 6 Louisville Cardinals visit Alumni Stadium.
The Irish (6-3-1, 2-1 ACC), coming off a 3-0 drubbing of Northwestern on Tuesday night, are not far removed from hosting three top-10 opponents, in a series of home matches that saw the Irish play five of six games in South Bend. The Irish dropped all three matches, with two of those losses coming on golden goals in overtime.
No. 15 Notre Dame looks to flip the script against a top-10 opponent when Louisville (6-1-2, 3-0-1 ACC) visits this weekend. Notre Dame is streaking into the match off of three consecutive victories over Xavier, Boston College and Northwestern. In those three matches, the Irish outscored their opponents 8-1, leaving no doubt in the victories.
Following a home victory at Pittsburgh and a road win at Georgetown, Louisville stumbled to a 2-2 draw against No. 17 North Carolina State. Louisville then claimed a signature win against then-No. 2 Duke, but the Blue Devils have since fallen to No. 23 in United Soccer Coaches rankings. The Cardinals have also fallen victim to a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of No. 4 Kentucky.
On the season, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 18-8. The Irish have produced 44 shots on goal compared to only 29 for their opponents. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have outscored opponents 14-9 while allowing a .431 shots-on-goal percentage. Notre Dame has held opponents to a miniscule .358 shots-on-goal percentage.
The matchup against Louisville is Notre Dame’s fourth game of conference play. With a win over the Cardinals, the Irish would own a 3-1 record against the ACC halfway through its conference schedule.
Notre Dame can give Louisville its first loss in conference play. In addition to their draw against North Carolina State and their wins over Duke and Pitt, the Cardinals own a victory over Boston College, a common data point that Louisville shares with the Irish. Both Notre Dame and Louisville defeated the Eagles 1-0, but the Cardinals did so on the road in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Senior Adam Wilson and junior Cherif Dieye lead the Cardinals with three goals each, and sophomore goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch has limited opponents to a 0.81 goals-allowed-average in seven starts.
For the Irish, fifth-year defender Patrick Berneski leads the club with five goals. Senior goalkeeper Ryan Krutz has limited opponents to a 0.83 goals-allowed-average in eight starts, but junior Duncan Turnbull got the start on Tuesday and pitched a clean sheet against Northwestern.
The Saturday match starts a crucial slate for the Irish to close out the season. In its final six games, Notre Dame will face five ranked teams, four of whom also play in the ACC. A win against Louisville on Saturday would be Notre Dame’s first victory against a top-10 opponent this season.
Notre Dame and Louisville kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.