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Irish Gear Up for Key Conference Match

Oct 2, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

In almost every regard, Notre Dame’s men’s soccer squad has jumped out to a superb start. After ten games, the No. 8 Irish are 8-2-0 with two victories over top-10 opponents.

The only dark cloud hanging over the team are those two pesky losses, made all the worse because of the conference affiliation of Notre Dame’s opponents in those two matches, Louisville and Connecticut. The Cardinals and Huskies are both members of the BIG EAST Conference, and defeats at the hands of both teams have dropped the Irish to the cellar of the BIG EAST Blue Division.

Notre Dame will get a third shot to notch their first conference win on Wednesday when the Pittsburgh Panthers roll into Alumni Stadium. While the Panthers are a solid group, they are not of the caliber of Louisville or Connecticut. Pitt is 6-3-2 but has dropped its last three contests. It has played only one ranked opponent, Georgetown; the Hoyas handled the Panthers, 3-1. Like the Irish, Pitt is 0-2 in BIG EAST play.

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The Panthers are paced offensively by freshman midfielder Nick Wysong, an Elkhart, Ind. native, and junior forward Nico Wrobel. Wysong and Wrobel have both tallied five goals, accounting for ten of Pitt’s sixteen goals this season. Sophomore keeper Lee Johnston has posted a fine 1.14 goals against average in eleven starts.

The Irish are looking to rebound from their tough 2-1 loss in Storrs, Conn. and will no doubt be invigorated by the prospect of a home match after four consecutive away games. Notre Dame went 2-2 on the trip with wins over Michigan and No. 10 Indiana and the aforementioned losses to Louisville and Connecticut. Dillon Powers, Harry Shipp, and Ryan Finley continue to lead the offense, and Grant Van De Casteele has anchored the Irish defense.

The Irish and Panthers will kick off at 7:00 pm in Alumni Stadium on Wednesday. The game will be streamed live on UND.com, where it will be featured as the “Game of the Week.”

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