Men's soccer notebook: Orange ready for ACC opener against Notre Dame

SU faces the defending national champion Saturday night.

Although undefeated through four games, Syracuse still believes it has something to prove.

Especially with the defending NCAA champion coming to town.

With Notre Dame scheduled to invade SU Soccer Stadium on Saturday, the Orange is hoping to open its second Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a statement victory.

"They're a big team coming in here, and they're going to be a big test for us overall," senior defender Chris Makowski said. "We have to show them and the ACC that we are a good team, and we mean business."

SU finished 3-7-1 in 2013 conference play, and one of those losses was a 3-0 shutout by the Irish on Sept. 13.

However, goalkeeper Alex Bono said this Orange team is different from a year ago. Now ranked in the top 25 of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, SU has more offensive weapons and an improved back line.

They should help the Orange be a more serious contender.

"With what we're seeing around the ACC, we believe that we have a team that can go as far as we can in the ACC Tournament," Bono said. "We're excited to get to play in the ACC, and Saturday will be a good start for it."

Pro Bono

Speaking of Bono, the junior has begun the 2014 season with four shutouts. He is already halfway to his total from last season, and his career mark has climbed to 22.

Head coach Ian McIntyre said Bono is a completely different goalkeeper from last season and even the preseason.

"He's evolving," McIntyre said. "You see that with his training habits, and his presence is evolving as well."

Bono doesn't point to any mechanical adjustment for his sensational play. Instead, he credits the entire team's hard work and mental fortitude.

"When you're playing with confidence and you just have those days where you're feeling like nothing is going past you, those are the best days you can have," Bono said. "It's just a different feeling on the field that we can play with any team in the nation that we may not have had in years past."

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