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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Irish prepare for ACC semifinal matchup against Virginia

No. 17 Virginia is all that stands between No. 13 Notre Dame and a trip to the ACC championship game.

After defeating No. 3 North Carolina on Sunday by a score of 2-1, Notre Dame earned a spot in the semifinals. Traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia, the Irish (11-5-2, 3-3-2 ACC) will face the No. 6-seed Cavaliers for a second time this season.

Katelyn Valley | The Observer
Irish senior forward Jeff Farina dribbles in front of a defender during Notre Dame’s 3-1 win over Michigan on Oct. 10 at Alumni Stadium.

Virginia (11-3-4, 3-2-3) outlasted Louisville 4-3 in penalty kicks to face Notre Dame, and it has won four ACC titles under head coach George Gelnovatch. After tying the Cavaliers 1-1 in double overtime Sept. 29, Irish head coach Bobby Clark said he felt the Irish deserved more than a tie in the first matchup.

“We felt like we should have gotten more out of that game,” Clark said. “But they have some good players, too. They’ll be a different team down in Charlottesville than here. I know it shouldn’t make a difference because the fields are roughly the same size, but at the end of the day, it’s a different environment. If you look at most teams, they do better at home than on the road. I think the guys are looking forward to it. It was nice to get Pitt back the second game, good to get UNC and Virginia — we felt like we deserved more that night. Revenge, I don’t say anything about revenge. You just want to win every game. That’s it.”

After having faced the hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 30 according to the ratings percentage index, the Irish have ended up with the record they expected, Clark said.

“I think we are where we want to be,” Clark said. “We’re still involved in the ACC championship tournament. And as I have said before, it’s possibly harder to win the ACC championship than win a national championship. Just looking at the RPIs, six out of the top seven are ACC teams. You have to be ready to play in that quality of game and I think we are. [Wednesday] is a very hard game, Virginia is a very good team. But that’s the fun of it, the fun is playing good competition because it tests you. They’re all slightly different, so they all test you in different ways. It’s been nice to have a couple of wins, now can we just extend that streak. With our schedule, you aren’t going to win all the games, but you hope you can hit the right streak at the right time. And you need confidence, and our games have shown that we are a very good team.”

Despite the extra pressure of a tournament game, Clark said the team’s mentality remains the same as it has throughout the entire season.

“You play good teams all the way through, and they go, ‘Hey this is just another game,’” Clark said. “The big thing is that you always want to get a final. They know one game stands between them and the final. ... I always say to them we can’t get outworked. If we can’t get outworked, it’s like the John Wooden quote. Success is measured if they can be the best they can be. That’s all you can ask. You don’t ask them to be more than the best they can be. If the other team happens to be better on the day, all we can do is shake their hand. I'm pretty confident all our guys can play to their potential, and we will be in a pretty good position.”

Notre Dame will face Virginia at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia, to determine who will move on to the final.