The following is an excerpt from the Peoria Journal Star preps daily article.
When the Notre Dame boys soccer team made its first trip to the St. Louis area this season, in early September, it was looking to make its mark on the national scene.
But after a whirlwind 24 hours spent competing against some of the best teams in the country, the Irish left feeling a bit exposed.
Sure, they pulled off what was perhaps the biggest win in program history by defeating then-No. 7 St. Louis Christian Brothers. But a 3-0 loss to perennial power St. Louis Chaminade the next day put a bit of a damper on an otherwise successful trip.
“We put a lot of work in during the summer to get ready for those early tests,” ND coach Mike Bare said. “And I thought we were there. But when we went down to St. Louis I don’t think we played at the level we’re capable of playing. There’s a lot of things that go into playing down there with the speed of play, the speed on the ball, the defensive pressure and the quality of those teams. I think they exposed some things.”
That early wake-up call might have served the Irish well, however. Since that loss, they have gone 9-0 and outscored opponents 41-1.
This weekend, again in the St. Louis area, ND will get another chance to test its mettle against some of the country’s best teams. The Gateway City Classic features 42 teams, including nine ranked in the top 50 nationally, according to ESPN RISE.
ND, ranked 38th nationally, will face Taylor Mill (Ky.) Scott at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Belleville in one of six groups that make up the sixth annual competition.
“Since that loss to Chaminade, we’ve spent a lot of time working on the little things to try and correct them, so that when we go down there this weekend, we’ll be a bit more prepared,” Bare said. “And I think we’re where we need to be.”