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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

ND welcomes Robert Morris

The Irish face off against Robert Morris on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium in a midseason non-conference contest.

Irish junior midfield Nick Ossello looks for an open teammate during an exhibition game against Bellarmine on Feb. 2.
Irish junior midfield Nick Ossello looks for an open teammate during an exhibition game against Bellarmine on Feb. 2.

The No. 10 Irish (5-4, 2-2 ACC) look to capitalize on their home field advantage over Robert Morris (5-6, 2-3 Northeast Conference) to secure their second win of the week.  After falling 15-7 to ACC-rival Duke (9-2, 3-1) on Saturday, the Irish quickly recovered with a 12-7 on-the-road victory over Marquette on Tuesday. The loss and recovery both have significant implications for the Irish moving forward, and Notre Dame looks to apply its takeaways from this week to its tilt against Robert Morris.

“I think the biggest thing for us going forward continues to be the consistency in our decision making on both ends of field,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We need to continue to evolve what are great decisions for our team, and we learn more about ourselves and our team as we continue to play.”

With consistent decision-making at the forefront of their strategy, the Irish will work to combat the Colonial offense, which is executed similarly to their own. Robert Morris currently averages 9.72 goals per game and is 14 for 32 on man-up goal opportunities. The Irish may outperform the Colonials with an average of 11.56 goals per game and a record of 21 for 37 on man-up goal opportunities, but Corrigan said that the Colonials will still be a challenge for his team’s defense.

“Robert Morris is another team that like us plays a smart controlled offense with a lot of great skill,” Corrigan said. “With a lot of great offensive players on their team, we need to make sure we are playing really sound defense to force them into bad shots and turnovers. “

In addition to playing solid defense, the Irish offense will also need to apply consistency to its efforts to get past the Colonial defensive front.

“At the other end, we need to be aggressive in the offensive opportunities we are getting,” Corrigan said. “We need to continue to be productive there and get better in our 6-on-6 play, which has been our most inconsistent thing this season.”

Senior midfielder Jim Marlatt, junior attack man Conor Doyle and sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh lead the Irish offense. In the past two games, the Irish offense has been slow to start in the first half and instead has made strong runs starting in the second half. Against Duke, the Irish only tallied two goals in the first half, but managed four goals in the fourth quarter alone, while against Marquette on Tuesday, the Irish scored five of the last six goals. Despite the appearance of a weak offensive start, the explosiveness of the Irish attack in the second half is exactly what Corrigan said he expects from his team.

“Part of the slow start is that of a function that we get better as game goes along, and within each game our decision making gets better,” Corrigan said. “Could we get off to a better start? Yes. I would like to see us playing a more competitive energy at the beginning, but what we aren’t doing is taking ourselves out early in games.

“You have to be careful for what you wish. If we get too aggressive, that could lead to more mistakes.”

With that approach, and their main focus on building smart decision making, the Irish cannot afford mistakes against Robert Morris that arise from fundamentals. Saturday’s game is all about balanced consistency, Corrigan said.

“We need to find the right balance of energy and preparation early and continue to get better as game goes on.”

The Irish host Robert Morris on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium at 1 p.m.