Nov. 11, 2013
#1 NOTRE DAME (11-1-5)
ACC Championship Quarterfinals
Tuesday, Nov. 12 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With one piece of Atlantic Coast Conference hardware already destined for its trophy case, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team will look to add another in the coming week.
The top-ranked Fighting Irish (11-1-5) will begin their postseason journey Tuesday when they play host to Duke (8-4-6) in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship at Alumni Stadium (7 p.m. ET).
Notre Dame and Maryland were the co-champions of the ACC regular season and the Terrapins are the top seed in the tournament as a result of a tie-breaker, while the Irish are the No. 2 seed. Duke is seeded seventh. The winner will advance to the semifinals to face either Wake Forest or Virginia on Friday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. The final is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday in Germantown.
The Fighting Irish and Blue Devils will be squaring off for the second time this season. Notre Dame captured a 3-1 home victory over Duke on Sept. 27, but that score wasn’t quite indicative of how the game went. The match was scoreless at halftime and then knotted 1-1 in the late stages before Notre Dame produced goals in the 88th and 90th minutes.
Following that loss to the Irish, Duke dropped its next match to UNC Wilmington (2-1), but the Blue Devils have not lost since and they will bring an eight-game unbeaten streak into Tuesday’s game. Duke has gone 4-0-4, while only allowing three goals, during that stretch.
“It’s a completely different time of the season (from the first game against Duke),” says Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “I don’t think you can really compare the games. They’re coming in off of a non-losing streak. So they are possibly in the best spirits that they’ve been in all season. Plus, this is the tournament, which means a lot. It’ll be a completely different feel about this game. The winner goes on and the loser stays home. It’s going to be a tough game both mentally and physically and we know that going in. This is great preparation because it’ll be very similar to what the NCAAs are going to be like in just over a week’s time.”
The Fighting Irish know something about making a successful tournament run. Notre Dame captured last season’s BIG EAST Championship with a dramatic 3-2 double-overtime victory over Georgetown. The Irish tied the Hoyas in the final minute of regulation and then notched the golden goal with just over a minute left in the second overtime period. That victory was preceded by a 1-0 triumph of Connecticut in the semifinals.
Before the Irish even had a chance to make it to last season’s BIG EAST semifinals they had to overcome a two-goal deficit at Syracuse in the quarterfinals. The Orange grabbed a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute and things looked bleak for the Irish. However, the team responded by rattling off four goals in just over 20 minutes en route to the 4-2 victory.
“We had tough games in the BIG EAST tournament last year and this (the ACC tournament) is going to be very tough, but you just have to take them one at a time and our whole focus is on Duke,” says Clark. “We don’t change (going into a conference tournament). We prepare in a similar manner for every single team. We try to take every game one at a time. Our preparation schedule is exactly the same for every single game we’ve played this year. With our schedule it is very easy to respect every team on it, but I don’t think this group fears any team.
“We’re looking forward to playing and hopefully it’s a good game and we get to move to the (ACC) final four. The (BIG EAST) final four last year at PPL Park was a lot of fun. I think the guys really enjoyed themselves there and those memories are still very fresh and that will be an added inspiration to them this year.”
The Irish hope they won’t need any last-minute heroics on Tuesday, but if they need a goal late odds are it might come from Harrison Shipp or Vince Cicciarelli. The forward duo was responsible for all four goals in last week’s 2-0 wins over Michigan State and Pittsburgh. Shipp put the Irish on the board in both matches and Cicciarelli put the games away with tallies of his own. Cicciarelli, a junior, will carry a three-game goal streak into Tuesday’s match and he was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for last week’s performances.
In fact, Notre Dame has scored six unanswered goals over the course of the last three contests and senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall and the Fighting Irish currently have a scoreless streak that has reached 230:25 in length. The Irish rank eighth nationally in goals-against average (0.61) and they have posted seven shutouts this season.
The combination of a stingy defense and a clutch offense is a nice recipe for success in what hopes to be a long postseason run for the Fighting Irish.
Tickets for Tuesday’s match are $8 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 21 and younger)/senior (ages 55 and older) and free for kids three years of age and younger. To purchase tickets call 574-631-7356, stop by the Notre Dame ticket office or visit UND.com/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased Tuesday evening at Alumni Stadium.
All Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross students will get into the game free of charge with a valid student ID. Also, any Notre Dame faculty/staff member will be admitted free of charge with a valid University ID.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director