Sept. 22, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After opening Atlantic Coast Conference play with consecutive road matches versus ranked opponents, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team’s gift for returning home will be a showdown with top-five foe North Carolina on Friday.
The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish (3-1-2, 1-0-1 ACC) have played four of their first six matches this season away from home, but now they will take to the Alumni Stadium pitch five times in the next six outings.
The recent road swing ended Sunday with a 1-1 draw at fifth-ranked Virginia. Given the opposition and the location, the result definitely wasn’t poor, but the Irish felt like they may have left some valuable conference points on the field.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute after forward Vince Cicciarelli was taken down in the box and Patrick Hodan buried the penalty kick. Virginia’s Wesley Suggs was issued a red card for the infraction and the Irish played a man up the rest of the match. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers leveled the affair less than three minutes after the Irish went on top.
The draw, combined with the 1-0 league-opening win at No. 20 Syracuse, has the Fighting Irish tied with Virginia for first place in the ACC Coastal Division.
“We certainly had a hard start to league play with two road games,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “If you had said before would you settle for four points you might have said yes. We’re obviously disappointed a little bit with the result at Virginia. It wasn’t a jolly team afterwards. They were thinking of how we can move forward and I like that attitude. They certainly weren’t happy with the way we had gone ahead and gone a man up and let it slip up.
“It’s a tough league. If you step back, you see that more good came out of the Virginia game than bad. The nice thing is that we did make chances and it’s a matter of time before we start putting them away. There were many more positives from that game.
“We don’t have too much time to lick our wounds because there’s another huge game coming up on Friday when UNC comes to town. We’ll need to see if we can take some of the lessons learned from the Virginia game and take it into the UNC game. That’s the great thing about our league, you go from one big game to another.”
Over the past three seasons, Notre Dame is 18-3-3 at Alumni Stadium, but the Irish don’t have to look any further than their last home match, a 1-0 setback to Kentucky, to realize nothing is guaranteed in your friendly confines.
“Your stadium doesn’t win you games,” Clark says. “People might think it’s nice because you’re playing at home, but the players and the team win the games. We have some very tough matches coming up. What we did so well last year was take one game at a time and we won’t be looking past North Carolina at all.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director