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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

Irish prepare for third straight top-five opponent in Tar Heels

Following two late losses to Indiana University and Michigan State, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team is gearing up to take on the University of North Carolina, its third consecutive top-5 opponent.

The Irish (3-2-1, 1-0-0 ACC) look to avoid a three-game losing streak against the Tar Heels (5-1-0, 1-0-0 ACC). Since their Sept. 7 victory against Syracuse in Bloomington, the Irish have been unable to pick up a win against top competition.

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer
Irish junior midfielder Jack Casey dribbles the ball upfield during Notre Dame’s 1-1 tie against Mexico U20s on April 27 at Alumni Stadium. Casey is responsible for one of Notre Dame’s eight assists this season and has played a vital role in helping ND generate 1.67 goals per game.

No. 8 Notre Dame will be hosting its second game of the week when No. 3 North Carolina visits Alumni Stadium on Friday night. On Tuesday night the Irish fell to No. 5 Michigan State when the Spartans scored in the 89th minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Irish outshot the Spartans 11-6, but failed to convert those shots into goals.

North Carolina has not played a match since Sept. 11. The Tar Heels, scheduled to play against Duke University and UNC Greensboro in the last week, had two matches postponed due to Hurricane Florence. UNC is currently on a four-game winning streak. The last, and only, loss for the Tar Heels came at the hands of Indiana University on August 26.

The Tar Heels fell to the Hoosiers 1-0 in August after Indiana scored in the 88th minute. The matchup against the Irish is North Carolina’s first against a ranked opponent since their loss to Indiana.

This game marks the second ACC matchup for both the Irish and the Tar Heels. North Carolina took down Pittsburgh 2-1 on Sept. 8, and Notre Dame defeated Syracuse 3-2 on Sept. 7.

Notre Dame and North Carolina have met on six occasions to date, and this matchup will break a 2-2-2 series record. Last season, the Irish fell to the Tar Heels 3-0 in the regular season, but then defeated North Carolina in the ACC Championship quarterfinal.

Notre Dame has struggled at home so far this season. In three matches, the Irish are 0-2-1 at Alumni Stadium with both losses coming against top-5 teams. The Irish are 2-2 against ranked teams but have been unable to finish against top-10 competition.

The Irish will look to reverse the trend of falling to tough competition Friday night. Kickoff is schedule for 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium, and the match will be televised on ACC Network Extra.