Sept. 12, 2013
#4 NOTRE DAME (1-0-2, 0-0-1)
#25 SYRACUSE (3-1-0, 0-1-0)
Friday, Sept. 13 – 7 p.m. (ET)
SU Soccer Stadium – Syracuse, N.Y.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – What a difference 10 months make. When the Notre Dame men’s soccer team journeyed to Syracuse last November the two programs squared off in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship. Friday they will meet on the same pitch but as ACC rivals.
The Fighting Irish took the last encounter by scoring four unanswered goals in the final 28 minutes of the match. Current sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan tallied two of the scores and assisted on a third en route to the victory that ignited Notre Dame’s run to the tournament title.
While the stakes won’t be quite as high on Friday, the match still is very important since points are up for grabs in the ultracompetitive ACC. The contest will be Notre Dame’s first true road game since November’s victory in upstate New York.
“Our players remember the BIG EAST quarterfinals at Syracuse last year,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “We were down 2-0 and they gave us a really hard time through the early periods of that game and even into the second half. We got things together and played well, but our players know Syracuse is a very good team. Syracuse is well coached and they’re well organized. Any road game is tough and this will be our first road game in the ACC and it will be a very important match.”
The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish are off to a 1-0-2 start this season (0-0-1 ACC). Senior forward Leon Brown has all three of the team’s goals, including the equalizer in the 79th minute of Sunday’s 1-1 draw against No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC opener.
While Clark would like to see his team finish their chances at a better clip, he is encouraged because the opportunities have been there. The Irish have outshot their opponents 59-31 and have doubled up their foes in corner kick attempts, 24-12.
Defensively, the Fighting Irish have surrendered just two goals this season and are giving up just over four shots on goal per game. Senior Patrick Wall has played every minute in goal and he boasts a 0.58 goals-against average and a .846 save percentage with one clean sheet.
Syracuse (3-1-0, 0-1-0) dropped its ACC opener Friday at Virginia Tech (2-1 in OT), but rebounded with a 4-1 win over Manhattan on Monday. The Orange opened the season with victories over Colgate (4-0) and Hartwick (2-0). Freshman midfielder Alex Halis has a team-high three goals, while sophomore Alex Bono has every decision in goal and carries a 0.73 goals-against average and .786 save percentage.
The Orange brought a lot of momentum into the 2013 campaign. Syracuse finished last season with a 16-4-1 record (5-3-0 BIG EAST) after falling to eventual national runner-up Georgetown in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship.
Syracuse appears at No. 25 in this week’s Soccer America poll. The Orange will be the third ranked opponent the Fighting Irish have faced so far this season. The slate only will become more challenging as the Irish enter the weekly grind of ACC play in addition to a very difficult non-league slate.
“It goes from one big game to another and that’s good,” Clark said. “The great thing about the ACC is you don’t have to get the team fired up because the fixtures themselves take care of that. Every point, be it a tie or a win, has to be earned in this league.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director