Oct. 18, 2013
#2 NOTRE DAME (7-0-5, 4-0-3)
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (4-3-4, 1-3-3)
Saturday, Oct. 19 7 p.m. (ET)
Dail Soccer Stadium Raleigh, N.C.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third straight weekend the Notre Dame men's soccer team will hit the road for an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown and this week's journey will take the program to a place it's never been - Raleigh, N.C.
The second-ranked Fighting Irish (7-0-5, 4-0-3) will square off against North Carolina State (4-3-4, 1-3-3) 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday at Dail Soccer Stadium. It will be just the second meeting ever between the Irish and Wolfpack. NC State topped Notre Dame, 2-1, on Sept. 9, 1990, in Durham, N.C.
Notre Dame has done a good job handling the grind of its inaugural ACC campaign. The Fighting Irish are tied with Maryland and Wake Forest for first place in the league standings. All three squads are 4-0-3 in ACC play with four conference matches remaining.
The Irish are coming off a 1-1 non-conference draw with No. 13 Northwestern on Tuesday. It was the team's fifth tie of the season and head coach Bobby Clark knows that taking care of the little things could turn some of those draws into victories.
"We have ourselves in a nice position, but now we really need to focus on one game at a time and see where that takes us," says the Notre Dame head coach. "Although we played well (against Northwestern) there were a lot of little details that I think we can do better with. You're always shooting for perfection and perfection possibly is an impossibility to get. The nearer we can get to perfection the better we'll be."
Getting a win at NC State will be no easy task. The Wolfpack tied co-ACC leader Wake Forest, 2-2, in its last home match. That was one of six overtime affairs for NC State this season. The Wolfpack are 2-0-4 in those contests, while the Fighting Irish are 1-0-5 in their six overtime matches.
"North Carolina State has a very good coach in Kelly Findley, who did a fine job at Butler," says Clark. "We've watched tape on them and they look very, very good. Any team that can score two goals against Wake Forest and tie them 2-2 are very good. They are a strong and athletic team and it'll be a good challenge for us."
The Irish will turn to their stingy defense to try and stop the Wolfpack attack. Notre Dame has only allowed seven goals this season and its 0.53 goals-against average leads the ACC. The Fighting Irish have posted five shutouts this season and they have not surrendered more than one goal in any match.
Another part of Notre Dame's successful formula this season has been scoring early and not falling behind. Notre Dame has scored first in nine of its 11 matches that have featured a goal and the Fighting Irish have outscored their competition 11-2 in the first half of play. The Irish have trailed for only 61:03 throughout the entire campaign, including just 12 seconds on the road (Boston College).
Notre Dame has been successful everywhere its played this season, but especially on the road. The Fighting Irish are 4-0-2 away from home and they have outscored their opponents 9-3 in those matches. As a program, Notre Dame has not lost a road game in over a calendar year. That setback was a 2-1 decision at Northwestern on Oct. 9, 2012.
With all of that road success, the Irish should feel right at home in Raleigh on Saturday.
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director