Oct. 6, 2014
#3 NOTRE DAME
(5-2-2, 2-1-1 ACC)
(2-5-2, 1-1-2 Big Ten)
Tuesday, Oct. 7 – 7:30 p.m. (ET)
U-M Soccer Stadium – Ann Arbor, Mich.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With nine matches down and eight to go on the regular-season slate, the third-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team begins the campaign’s second half Tuesday at Michigan.
The season’s first half ended with a disappointing 1-0 setback to Boston College on Friday at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame surrendered a 14th-minute goal to the Eagles, but the Irish owned the majority of play during the match. The goal came on Boston College’s third and final shot of the contest and Notre Dame would go on to outshoot the Eagles 19-3.
“Soccer is a funny game because it humbles you when you least expect it,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “It was pretty humbling on Friday. It was a funny game because I thought we dominated it much more than we would because Boston College is a good team.
“How you respond after a setback always is a test for a team. I always say winning is a habit and losing is a habit. The hardest thing is to break a habit. We’ve not quite let it become a habit, but the best thing is to nip it in the bud just before it becomes habitual.”
The Fighting Irish clearly have not made losing a habit. They followed up this season’s only other setback (a 1-0 result to Kentucky) with a 1-0 win at Syracuse, which is the only blemish for the Orange so far this season. Last year, Notre Dame’s lone loss of the entire season was a 2-0 decision to Virginia and after that contest the Irish went 9-0-1 en route to winning the national title.
Notre Dame has not lost back-to-back games since the end of the 2010 season. In fact, the Fighting Irish have dropped two straight games within the same season just six times since Clark arrived in 2001.
“Our players have tremendous pride in how well they play,” Clark states. “It’s very important that we play well and I thought we played pretty well on Friday (against Boston College), but at the end of the day you’re judged on results. I think the players are very aware of that. If we play well, we’ll be fine.”
Of Notre Dame’s eight matches in October, four will be against fellow Atlantic Coast Conference members, while the other four will pit the Fighting Irish against Big Ten Conference opposition. The Irish annually fill a bulk of their non-conference slate with Big Ten foes, which provide stout competition when they aren’t battling it out in the ACC.
“Tuesday will be a huge game for us, but every game is from now on in,” Clark says. “It will be difficult because Michigan is a much better team than their record shows at the moment.
“The Big Ten is one of the strongest conferences in the country. There’s no looking past anyone on our schedule because every game is a challenge. We only play 17 games in the regular season and you want to make everyone a special game.”
While half of the regular season is in the books, the Fighting Irish have the mindset that the campaign still is in its infancy. The team is aiming to find the right cohesion on the pitch so they can get on a roll prior to postseason play and extend the schedule into December.
“We still haven’t fully hit our stride yet,” Clark says. “I hope we will. It was after we lost to Virginia last year that I felt we started to really get in sync and we did that right through to the last game of the season. It’ll be nice if we could start finding a groove.
“It doesn’t come easy and that’s the first lesson everyone’s learned. You just look at the college soccer situation and see that both UConn and Maryland are under .500 at the moment. Maryland was with us in the final (last season). Men’s soccer at the present moment is the most competitive I’ve ever seen it. I’ve never seen as much parity in the game and there really are very few poor teams.”
FIGHTING IRISH AGAINST THE WOLVERINES
– Tuesday will be the 14th meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan. The Fighting Irish hold a 10-1-2 advantage in the series. This is the ninth straight season the two teams have met.
– Notre Dame has won the last three encounters and the Irish are 4-0-1 in the previous five meetings. Three of the last four showdowns have gone to overtime and Notre Dame has netted a golden goal in two of them.
– Notre Dame is 2-1-1 all-time at Michigan. The Fighting Irish captured a 1-0 double-overtime victory during their last visit to Ann Arbor in 2012.
– Notre Dame’s only loss to the Wolverines was a 3-1 decision in 2008. That match was played in Ypsilanti, Michigan due to poor playing conditions in Ann Arbor.
THE LAST TIME
– Notre Dame bested Michigan, 3-0, last season at Alumni Stadium. Harrison Shipp (4′), Evan Panken (25′) and Leon Brown (82′) all scored for the Fighting Irish, while Patrick Wall made eight saves to notch the shutout.
BATTLING THE BIG TEN
– Tuesday’s match at Michigan will be the first of four contests against Big Ten Conference foes in October for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame will also meet Northwestern (Oct. 14), Indiana (Oct. 22) and Michigan State (Oct. 29).
– The Irish went 5-0-1 against Big Ten competition last season. That included wins over Wisconsin (4-0) and Michigan State (2-1) in the NCAA Tournament.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director