Oct. 7, 2013
#8 MARYLAND (5-2-3, 4-0-1)
Tuesday, Oct. 8 7 p.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - When the University of Notre Dame joined the Atlantic Coast Conference it opened the door for new matchups and opportunities for each sport. Tuesday evening will be such an occasion for the Fighting Irish men's soccer team when it welcomes in perennial power Maryland for its first visit to Notre Dame.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0-3, 3-0-2) and the eighth-ranked Terrapins (5-2-3, 4-0-1) will square off at 7 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium. Maryland currently is tied with Wake Forest for first (13 points each) in the ACC standings and Notre Dame is in third place (11 points).
While it will be Maryland's first visit to Notre Dame, it could be the last for the foreseeable future due to its move to the Big Ten Conference. That makes tomorrow's contest all the more intriguing.
"I know Maryland would like to go out by winning the conference this season," says Irish head coach Bobby Clark. "As newcomers, we'd also like to win the conference. There are a lot of games between now and then but this is a game they'll be very excited about because it's a big year for them. I know (Maryland head coach) Sasho (Cirovski) pretty well and the one thing I know is that he'll want to leave here as a winner.
"Sasho has done a fantastic job there. This certainly is going to be one of our toughest games of the year. This is a game we're looking forward to very much."
Clark has Notre Dame off to one of the best starts in program history. This is just the fifth time in 37 seasons as a varsity program that the Irish don't have a loss following the first nine matches of a campaign and Notre Dame is one of five teams in NCAA Division I without a loss this season.
The Fighting Irish are coming off a week in which they defeated Indiana, 2-0, on Wednesday and then won at Clemson, 2-1 in overtime, on Saturday. There wasn't too much time to celebrate as the Irish had to shift their focus to the Terrapins.
"This is a tough period for us because we have a lot of games and we have to manage that and still come out with results," says Clark. "The team has handled every stage of the season very well so far. These next couple of weeks possibly is our busiest period of the season. We have to handle the volume of games and the travel and still perform. I think this group is more than capable of doing that."
Not only will the team's unbeaten streak be on the line Tuesday so will Harrison Shipp's career-best seven-game point streak. The senior forward has notched five goals and five assists in the last seven games, including six points (2g, 2a) in the two wins last week.
Shipp assisted on both goals in the victory over Indiana and he delivered in a big way on Saturday at Clemson. The team captain put the Irish on the board in the 21st minute and later deposited the golden goal less than two minutes into overtime in the triumph over the Tigers. Shipp was named the College Soccer News National Player of the Week for his performances in those two contests. He also earned that honor on Sept. 23 of this year.
"My favorite part of playing soccer is setting people up and putting them in the right places with the ball so they can be successful," says Shipp. "And the people behind me like Nick Besler, Robby Gallegos and Connor Klekota have been doing a really good job of finding me in good spots."
With his recent play Shipp should be on the radar for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top player. The Irish will face 2012 Hermann winner, Patrick Mullins, tomorrow evening. The Maryland senior forward has five goals, which ties him with Schillo Tshuma and Jake Pace for the team lead this season.
The Terrapins boast the ACC's second-ranked offense (2.2 goals per game), while Notre Dame's 0.52 goals-against average is second among all ACC teams.
"Maryland is a traditional powerhouse, especially within the ACC," says Shipp. "If we really want to come into this conference and make a statement in terms of wanting to be one of the best teams in the conference, Maryland is a team that will let us know where we're at relative to the rest of the teams in the league."
Note - Fan 4 Packs are available for Tuesday night's game. The packs are just $20 and include four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks. Fan 4 Packs can be purchased over the phone at 574-631-7356 or in person at the Murnane Family Ticket Office during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday).
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director