PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Mike Bare says there’s a different vibe with his Notre Dame soccer this year.

Different from the last couple of seasons when his Irish were young and banged up. And different from a year ago when Notre Dame was bounced by Morton in the regional semifinals.

“All those experiences we had last fall, not winning a lot of games and going out early in the postseason, has driven our team in the offseason,” said Bare, the Notre Dame head coach. “All those kids last year that weren’t quite ready, got experience. And now we’re hungry.”

Hungry enough to be unbeaten in the first three weeks of the season with wins over Morton, Washington, Quincy Notre Dame and defending Wisconsin state champion Marquette.

The Irish say the last couple seasons haven’t been typical Notre Dame seasons because they haven’t competed for a state championship. So this year’s seniors says it’s time to bring the swagger back to PND soccer.

“We all got together a few times (this summer) and said, “we need to have a good season, this is our last year,” said senior Dillon Stickelmaier. “We need to get our stuff together, you know.”

Notre Dame won its ninth straight game to open the season on Tuesday, a 9-1 victory over Peoria High.

“The tradition here at Notre Dame is to win state titles. The past two years, we didn’t do that, we weren’t close to that,” said senior Dillon Bare. “This year we bring the goal and we think we have the team to win a state title. It’s a lot more fun year.”

The fun is back. So are the big wins at Notre Dame.

Said Mike Bare: “The way we’ve been competing in games, it’s back to what we’ve had for years at Notre Dame.”