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ND Men’s Soccer

Irish men’s soccer hosts Clemson to open ACC play

| Friday, September 8, 2023

Ryan Vigilante | The Observer
Freshman defender Mitch Ferguson helps up junior forward Daniel Russo during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Boston College at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 30, 2022.

There is something different about conference play, no matter the opponent. It is that time of year for Notre Dame men’s soccer. The team begin their ACC matches Saturday night against Clemson. The Irish have started the season 3-0-1 and currently sit on a three-match win streak where they are outscoring opponents 7-0. This streak followed a hard-fought draw against now-No. 15 Indiana. The strong start to the season has earned Notre Dame the No. 20 ranking. Coming off of a disappointing 3-4-1 ACC campaign that placed them second to last in the Coastal division, the Irish look poised for an improved 2023 season. While no match in the ACC is to be taken lightly, they will enter their first test with plenty of confidence. 

The Notre Dame attack is led by junior forward Matthew Roou, who has been firing on all cylinders. He has notched a team-high five goals and added an assist as well. Sophomore midfielder KK Baffour leads the team with two assists, scoring one goal on top of it. The real story of the season so far, however, has been the impressive Irish defense. In four matches, the unit has only allowed a single goal. Senior goalkeeper Bryan Dowd has saved eight of the nine shots he’s faced.

In contrast, Clemson’s season hasn’t had a smooth start. The Tigers opened up the season with a 2-1 loss to UCF, followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw against UNC Wilmington. That said, they have since strung together wins against South Carolina and Presbyterian. Like the Irish, they are coming off of a 3-4-1 ACC campaign, finishing third to last in the Atlantic division. Their attack is led by graduate student forward Mohamed Seye, who leads the team with four goals. His scores have often been supplied by sophomore midfielder Nathan Richmond, who leads the team with three assists and has pitched in a goal of his own. The Tigers will need strong performances from Seye and Richmond if they want to crack the stout Irish defense. After letting in a few early on, Clemson’s defense has tightened up with two straight clean sheets. Sophomore goalkeeper Joseph Andema has saved seven of the 10 shots he has faced.

Clemson and Notre Dame have had some significant recent history on the soccer field. In their past 10 matchups, the two are split 5-5 with a number of classic matches going to overtime and penalties to decide ACC and NCAA tournament games. Most recently, The Tigers knocked the Irish out of the ACC Tournament in the first round last season and defeated them in a dramatic penalty shootout the year prior, a win that took them through to the final of the NCAA Tournament which they would go on to win.

On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Irish will take the field at Alumni Stadium seeking revenge for their recent defeats in an ever-developing ACC rivalry. If history says anything, the match is sure to be a competitive one, regardless of how the teams look on paper.

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