Aug 19, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Pressure was the name of the game for Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark when discussing Sunday’s preseason opener at Creighton, a 1-0 loss.
“We didn’t handle their (Creighton) pressure very well,” Clark said. “They pressured us hard and we were not ready for that. We made some hurried decisions and we need to avoid turning the ball over.
“Our pressure was okay. We didn’t let them penetrate us, but we also didn’t force enough turnovers. Our spacing could have been better and our two forwards could have done a better job as our first line of pressure.”
Overall, Clark was pleased with how his team played and felt a tie would have been deserved, but the Irish saw that slip away in the 87th minute when Carlos McCrary scored for Creighton. While wins are nice, the key during the preseason is to pinpoint where the weaknesses are and address them. That learning process began today as the Fighting Irish got back on the bus and headed east to Des Moines, Iowa, where they will face Drake in exhibition play on Wednesday.
“We’ll have a video session today and a walk-thru to work on some of these things,” Clark said. “We just have to grow every game. Drake will be a hard test and we need to be ready for that on Wednesday.”
Wednesday will feature a similar two-game format just like at Creighton where following the first game the Irish and Blue Jays played a 60-minute match that ended in a scoreless draw. That contest allowed Clark and his staff to play and evaluate some of the younger players on the squad.
“Having two games is great because it means everyone is playing,” Clark said. “It’s fun when you can get everyone in and it makes the trip better.”
While regular-season road trips are mostly about the business of soccer and studying since classes are in session, preseason trips tend to have a different feel. The team has been in training camp less than a week so establishing good rapport and team chemistry on and off the field is important.
“Road trips are really big for team bonding,” senior captain Andrew O’Malley said. “It’s good to have a trip in the beginning of preseason so all the freshmen can get acclimated and more familiar with the older guys. Since school hasn’t started no one has any work to do so there’s a lot of team bonding. A lot of the guys can hang out with each other because no one has to go off on their own and study.”
While Clark will focus on increasing the team’s defensive pressure on the field, the players will try to enjoy these next couple of days with limited pressure off the field.