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ND Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame men’s soccer to host Syracuse in first home conference game

| Thursday, October 8, 2020

Notre Dame (1-2, 0-1 ACC) will host Syracuse (0-1, 0-1 ACC) on Sunday in their first home conference game of the year. The Irish are coming off a 2-1 loss to Louisville in their first ACC game of the season and will look to halt their two-game losing streak when they take the field against the Orange.

“Our Louisville game was one of our first games where I felt we were playing offensively like we want to,” head coach Chad Riley said. “Now we just have to execute a little bit better.”

Some mistakes were to be expected after the lengthy interruption in the team’s time together, Riley said.

“We also have the perspective of we weren’t together from March until the middle of August,” he said. “There’s going to be some sort of growing throughout this season.”

The Irish hope to continue this progress in the matchup with Syracuse, who played their first game of the season on Tuesday against Pittsburgh. Syracuse fell to the Panthers 3-2 in double overtime, making Sunday’s matchup especially important for both teams in the shortened, six-game ACC season if they hope to qualify for the conference tournament.

“The great thing with the ACC is that they gave us a championship to play for,” Riley said. “There’s an eight-team conference tournament at the end of this fall season, so we want to be playing in that.”

Winning on Sunday would be a huge step in the right direction for the Irish, who, at 0-1 in ACC play, have some ground to make up already. Syracuse, who will be without striker Luther Archimede following his red card against Pittsburgh, are a beatable team, but Notre Dame cannot take the Orange lightly.

“The biggest thing we need to be ready to do is just battle,” Riley said. “There is going to be a lot of second balls … if we can dominate that portion of the game and have the composure to connect ourselves into the attack, I think that will be a big part of that.”

Syracuse plays a very direct style of soccer that will challenge Notre Dame defensively, but Coach Riley believes they are up to the task.

“It will be just dealing with what we call direct play — longer passes that put your backs under pressure, puts your goalies under pressure,” Riley said. “That creates a lot of moments for us, but we will have to handle just some of their more direct and vertical play.”

The focus for the Irish, meanwhile, is on improving their own offensive attack, which has generated just three goals through the first three games of the season.

“We’ll have to have guys in the attack that want the ball and are able to deal with a little pressure to create some good moments for us,” Riley said.

The offense will be needed for Notre Dame going forward as they enter the heart of their conference schedule. The importance of this ACC contest, and all conference games going forward, cannot be overstated for the Irish, who will look to even their overall and conference records. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Sunday at an empty Alumni Stadium.

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