Nov. 5, 2014 NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After ending the regular season with a stretch of 10 games in 33 days, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team currently is in the middle of a weeklong break prior to Sunday’s ACC Championship quarterfinal match.
No. 4 Notre Dame (10-4-3, 6-1-1 ACC) will play host to No. 15 Virginia or Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday at Alumni Stadium. The Cavaliers and Hokies will meet tonight in a first-round showdown in Charlottesville, Va.
The Fighting Irish are the top seed for the ACC Championship after winning the Coastal Division and finishing with a league-best 19 points. It marked the second straight ACC regular-season title for the Irish, who tied Maryland last season, and the team’s third conference crown in the last three years. Notre Dame won the 2012 BIG EAST Championship in its final campaign in the league.
The Irish knew this season wasn’t going to be easy given their stout schedule and the large target on their backs as the defending national champion. The squad has navigated the ledger quite well, posting a 5-1-3 record against ranked opponents and going 5-1-1 in its last seven matches.
With so much momentum going their way, the Fighting Irish will look to sustain the positive energy this week as they prep for another postseason run.
“This is going to be a busy time of year and we’ve tried to emphasize to the team to get their studies in order, eat well and get rest,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “If we do what we’d like to do (in the postseason), it suddenly will get hectic at the end. We found that out last year. Hopefully we can get some quality practice sessions in and it gives us some time to prepare.
“We are coming off a stretch of having 10 games in 33 days. It was so hard; we were going flat out trying to prepare for one game and there’s another game and another game. You’re busy trying to get the video and the scouts. Full marks to (associate head coach) BJ Craig and (assistant coach) Greg Dalby. One would be working on the weekend game and the other would be working on the mid-week game. They were working flat out trying to keep the scouts up to par. We did it and now this gives us a little bit of time to relax and you should be able to prepare a little bit better.
“This is an exciting time, but you still take them one game at a time. At the moment we’re looking at two teams and that’s Virginia Tech and Virginia. BJ is doing one of them and Dalby is doing the other. We’ve started that process and after Wednesday night we’ll hone in on whichever one progresses.”
Bobby Clark on the regular season…
“I always say that 10 wins secures a spot in the NCAA tournament, especially with our schedule. That’s always a pretty good season. I say the other thing for a good season is if you’re going into your last regular-season game and you’re playing for something important then you can’t ask for more than that. This year was another good season. I think we’re one win off from where we were last year at this time and we talked about that. We said it was going to be a different journey; you’re not going to replicate what you did last year the exact way you did it last year. The big thing is it’ll be a different journey, but there’s no reason it can’t be just as much fun.”
“There have been a lot of highlights (this season). I think every win is a highlight. Even a couple of the losses were excellent performances … You just take it and move on. Once the game is over there’s no use dwelling on it. You can look at it and see what you can learn from it to take into the next game, but there’s no use dwelling for very long. We always go over the last game, win or lose, and try to take something out of it. We say we have to get better from the start of the year to the end of the year and we have to improve every week.”
On winning a conference title in each of the last three seasons…
“We have a quote from my old mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, up in our team lounge, `We don’t practice to win championships, we practice like champions and championships seem to follow.’ It’s so important that we practice well. If we practice well, championships seem to follow. There’s nobody who’s won more championships than Sir Alex and he always put an emphasis on quality practice.”
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director