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Men’s Soccer

Irish take on eighth ranked matchup this Friday at Duke

| Thursday, October 11, 2018

In their eighth matchup against a ranked opponent, No. 4 Notre Dame takes on No. 14 Duke on Friday in a tough ACC road matchup. The Irish will travel to Durham, North Carolina, to face a division-rival Blue Devils team that’s currently riding a three-game winning streak.

After beating No. 6 Louisville in their last matchup, the Irish (7-3-1, 3-1-0 ACC) rose to the fourth spot in the NCAA men’s soccer RPI rankings. The Blue Devils (7-3-1, 2-2-0 ACC) are coming off two home wins and a significant away win at No. 5 Virginia. With Notre Dame just three points ahead of Duke in the ACC Coastal Division standings, this game is important for ACC postseason play standings as the first round of the ACC tournament takes off at the end of the month.

Connery McFadden | The Observer

Irish sophomore midfielder Aiden McFadden races towards the ball during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to North Carolina on Sept. 21 at Alumni Stadium.

Connery McFadden

Irish head coach Chad Riley praised Duke’s offense and noted that the Irish have to be ready to defend against of the best offenses in college soccer.

“Duke’s a very talented team, they’re coming off of a couple of good wins — a good league win against Virginia. They have some dynamic attacking players, good balance throughout the team,” Riley said. “They’re one of the more dangerous teams attacking in the country, I think we’ll need to be ready for that.”

The Irish, riding their own four-game win streak, have outscored their opponents 10-2 over the past two weeks and Riley acknowledged that his team is playing well, finishing strong and playing solid defense.

“The guys are, at the end of the day, continuing to perform well in the game. I think we’re doing a better job at the key moments of making sure we’re putting our chances away or making [the opposing team’s] keeper make a save. Defensively, we’re making a good job of individually — in [one-on-one] situations — as well as our collective approach,” he said.

In addition to playing at Duke, the Irish will travel to take on Michigan, Virginia (7-1-2, 2-1-1 ACC) and No. 27 Pitt. They’re also set to host one last home matchup against No. 15 Virginia Tech. Riley expects every team his squad plays to be excited to play against the Irish, because of the Notre Dame brand and recent success.

“A lot of our games coming up are all against programs that are doing quite well. All but one of our games are league games with the other being a school rival against Michigan,” he said. “ There hasn’t been one game where we haven’t been the highlight school just because we’re Notre Dame and doing well.

“I don’t really see a change in that I think it’ll be more of the same of teams will be excited to play us regardless of where we’re ranked.”

Riley has a lot of confidence in his team and insists that his team is prepared for any matchup.

“We’ve had tough games all season. We’ve played three of the top-five teams in the RPI, I think we’re well prepared to compete against anyone whether it be at home or on the road,” he said.

Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. from Koskinen Stadium.

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