Irish look to start strong in conference play
Jose Sanchez Cordova | Thursday, September 8, 2022
Notre Dame men’s soccer will begin conference play this weekend with a top-25 matchup against No. 24 Syracuse this Saturday. The No. 22 Irish will enter the contest at 1-1-1 following a closely contested 1-1 draw against DePaul at Alumni Stadium this week.
The Orange have got off to a blistering start with 3 wins in their first four contests and outscoring opponents 9-1 in those four games. Notre Dame’s defense will have its hands full with sophomore forward Nathan Opoku and senior forward Levonte Johnson, who was on the 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. The Hermann Trophy is given to the top men’s and women’s college soccer player each year. In particular, Opoku has had a blistering start to the season, leading the team with two goals and two assists in his first four games.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame has underperformed to start this season. Following their College Cup appearance last year, they’re winless in their first two home games, both against unranked, non-conference opposition. Their only win came away from home, where they nearly squandered a 3-0 lead against Michigan State but held on to win 3-2.
On Tuesday night, they needed a late equalizer at home against DePaul to avoid another home loss. Head coach Chad Riley spoke on how they can take the resilience they showed on Tuesday night into their matchup with Syracuse.
“I think the biggest thing tonight was the mentality,” said Riley. “The tide was against us, but the guys kept fighting back and eventually got the tying goal and had chances to win it. So, we’re taking positives from the mentality-side of that.”
This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2020 when Notre Dame beat Syracuse 1-0 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish lead the all-time series 15-3-2.