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Irish Prepare for Spartans, Wolverines

Sep 12, 2012, 5:04 PM EST

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Junior forward Leon Brown
(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Campus is abuzz over the football squad’s 2-0 start and upcoming showdowns with traditional powers Michigan State and Michigan.

But the Irish of the gridiron are not the only team carrying an undefeated record into consecutive matchups with the Spartans and Wolverines. The eighth-ranked Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team is 5-0-0 and will square off against Michigan State at home on Friday before heading to Ann Arbor on Sunday to take on Michigan.

As of late, the Irish have played these two universities on essentially an annual basis. Notre Dame is 5-3-1 against the men from East Lansing in the past ten years, 7-3-1 against the Wolverines. Neither opponent is ranked; however, as the old sports cliché goes, records and rankings can be thrown out the window when it comes to rivalry games.

However, one can never discard momentum, and the Irish have a wealth of it. They have captured titles in each of the two tournaments they have entered this season. They are coming off of a hard-fought, emotional victory against powerhouse Akron. What’s more, the Irish will be well rested after having five days to recuperate from their Sunday conquering of the Zips.

It has been 25 years since Notre Dame last opened with five consecutive victories; the Irish began 9-0-0 in 1987. Defense has been the linchpin of the team thus far. The Irish have allowed more than a single goal just once and have posted two shutouts. On the offensive side, the emergence of junior forward Leon Brown has helped the Irish cope with the losses of senior midfielders Michael Rose and Adam Mena to injury.

Notre Dame-Michigan State will kick off at 7 on Friday at Alumni Stadium (You can watch that contest live on UND.com). The Irish and Wolverines will begin their match on Sunday at 2 in Ann Arbor.

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