Oct. 9, 2014
(5-4-1, 3-1-0 ACC)
#6 NOTRE DAME
(5-3-2, 2-1-1 ACC)
Friday, Oct. 10 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Entering Friday’s men’s soccer match at Alumni Stadium, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 16 Louisville are in similar situations in more ways than one. Both power programs are in the midst of uncharacteristic losing streaks, but the Irish and Cardinals still reside in first place in their respective Atlantic Coast Conference divisions.
The Fighting Irish (5-3-2, 2-1-1 ACC), who have dropped consecutive games for the first time in four seasons, are tied with Virginia atop the Coastal Division. Louisville (5-4-1, 3-1-0 ACC) has suffered three straight setbacks, its longest such stretch since 2008, yet the Cardinals and Syracuse are in a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division.
“Notre Dame-Louisville matches were always terrific when we played in the BIG EAST and this rivalry will carry on into the ACC,” Fighting Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “Louisville is a very good team and they’re a little bit like ourselves. They’ve hit a sticky spell for the moment. When you’re playing good teams week in and week out it’s quite easy for that to happen.
“Both teams will be looking to get a positive result. One of the things we have to do is stay positive. Louisville will be trying to do the same thing. This is an intriguing matchup for people who follow college soccer.”
Friday will be the 16th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Louisville, but the first as ACC counterparts. The two programs were together in the BIG EAST Conference from 2005-12 and the Irish were 6-4-1 versus the Cardinals during that time. The last three showdowns all were decided by a single goal.
Close matches are nothing new to the Fighting Irish, who have played three straight one-goal affairs. In fact, six of Notre Dame’s 10 games this season have been decided by a single goal and the Irish were on the wrong end of the last two close encounters. The Fighting Irish fell to Boston College, 1-0, last Friday and then suffered a 3-2 setback at Michigan on Tuesday.
“We’re really hungry,” Notre Dame senior midfielder and team tri-captain Nick Besler said. “We’ve lost two games in a row and that hasn’t happened since I’ve been here. It’s unfamiliar from last year when we only lost one game. Losing the last two games hasn’t deterred us from our ultimate goal of winning the national championship again. It’s just an uphill battle more so than last year, but we’re definitely willing to get back on the right track. We’ve been playing good soccer and we still think we can play better, which is the promising side of it.”
Friday’s affair will be Notre Dame’s fourth match in the last 12 days so the team hasn’t had much time to dwell on either the positive or negative results.
“You have to have a short memory,” Clark said after Tuesday’s match against Michigan. “We have to put it behind us very, very quickly and move on because Louisville is a huge game. Our schedule is difficult and there are no easy games. We just have to move forward. Winning is a habit and losing is a habit and we have to break this bad habit we’re in right now. We have to get back to the good habit.”
IRISH AND CARDINALS TO CLASH AGAIN
– Friday will be the 16th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Louisville and the first-ever as ACC foes. The Fighting Irish hold a 10-4-1 advantage in the series. The last meeting was a 2-1 Cardinal win in Louisville during the 2012 season.
– The two programs were together in the BIG EAST Conference from 2005-12. The Irish were 6-4-1 versus the Cardinals during that time.
– The Cardinals are 0-7-0 all-time at Notre Dame. The two teams last met in South Bend during the 2011 season and the Irish came away with a 1-0 victory.
A LOOK AT LOUISVILLE
– The Cardinals are 5-4-1 overall and 3-1-0 in the ACC. Louisville has lost its last three contests (Ohio State 1-0, NC State 2-1, Indiana 3-0). The Cardinals have defeated Duke (5-0), Boston College (3-2 in OT) and Pittsburgh (4-1) in ACC play.
– Ricardo Velazco (Jr./F) has team-high totals in goals (4) and points (11). Joachim Ball has all 10 decisions in goal and he carries a 1.07 goals-against average and a .761 save percentage with three shutouts.
– Last season, Louisville went 11-5-4 (5-1-2 American Athletic Conference) and fell at Michigan State, 1-0 in double-overtime, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
– Head coach Ken Lolla is in his ninth season at Louisville.
– Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark is 7-4-2 all-time against Ken Lolla-coached teams. Clark is 5-4-1 versus Louisville since Lolla arrived in 2006. The Fighting Irish head coach went 2-0-1 versus Akron during Lolla’s tenure with the Zips.
– Tuesday’s 3-2 setback at Michigan provided some rarities for Notre Dame.
– It was just the second time in the last 94 matches that Notre Dame surrendered three goals.
– Colin McAtee’s hat trick was the first one allowed by Notre Dame since Pittsburgh’s Spencer Barton netted three goals against the Irish on Sept. 29, 2000.
– The setback marked the first time the Fighting Irish have dropped back-to-back games since the end of the 2010 season. Notre Dame has not lost three straight contests since the 2000 season.
– The Fighting Irish leveled Tuesday’s match at Michigan with a pair of goals just 4:35 apart in the second half. Jeffrey Farina scored in the 64th minute and Patrick Hodan netted the equalizer in the 68th minute.
– It was the quickest Notre Dame tallied two goals since the Irish scored twice in a span of 3:25 in last season’s 4-2 win over Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. Those goals came from Evan Panken (70′) and Harrison Shipp (74′).
– Freshman forward Jon Gallagher assisted on his classmate Jeffrey Farina’s goal in the 64th minute in Tuesday’s match at Michigan. It was the second time this season Gallagher provided an assist on a Farina goal. The rookie duo connected on a score in the 2-0 win over North Carolina on Sept. 26.
BEATING THE BEST
– Notre Dame is 3-0-2 against ranked teams this season.
– The Fighting Irish are 19-3-8 (.767) versus ranked foes since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Bobby Clark’s final takeaways from Tuesday’s 3-2 loss at Michigan…
“I thought when we got into the attacking half we were good and quite patient. Both goals were excellent goals and we also had a couple other opportunities. Those were the positives. Our problem was getting into the attacking half. We made heavy weather of getting out of our back-third through the middle-third. Most of that was our doing because we were a little bit careless in that area.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director