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Mens Soccer: Lanced by the Knights

Pat Leonard | Monday, October 13, 2003

The statistics show that the Notre Dame defense has been among the best in the country this season. Rutgers apparently does not concern itself with numbers.

The Scarlet Knights scored four straight goals to open the game and got scores from five different players in a 5-2 blowout of the Irish at Alumni Field Saturday.

Notre Dame (7-2-3, 3-2-1 in the Big East) scored twice in the second half to mount a comeback. Senior Greg Martin and freshman Ian Etherington notched their second and first goals of the season, respectively. Still, a late Rutgers goal sealed the Irish second home loss of the season to a Big East opponent.

The loss also toppled an Irish streak of eight-games without a loss, dating back to a Sept. 6 loss to St. John’s.

Rutgers’ four-goal spurt caught Notre Dame off-guard, especially because the Irish felt they were not being outplayed up to that point.

“They had a crazy little spell there,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I’ve reviewed the tape, and in a funny way I felt we played fairly well until then. They just had a crazy, inexplicable period where we let up some crazy goals. But for any team to have 10 shots and score five goals, that’s a very high ratio. That’d be a high ratio in basketball, so it’s definitely a high ratio in soccer.”

Rutgers (7-3-1, 4-1-1) capitalized on early Notre Dame miscues to take a lead it would never relinquish. Ricardo Arenas put the Scarlet Knights on the board first after Irish goalie Chris Sawyer slipped coming out to play a long ball.

Sawyer had trouble controlling the next long ball to come his way, a ball that slipped through his hands and onto the feet of Rutgers’ Chris Karcz for the Knights’ second goal.

Rutgers scored twice in the next eight minutes, the last of which came at the 44:17 mark just before the end of the half.

Notre Dame came out of the locker room firing. Junior defender Kevin Goldthwaite’s through-ball to senior forward Justin Detter set up a cross that Martin deflected to make the score 4-1 at 51:54.

Etherington, a speedy freshman, scored 15 minutes later on a headball off a Chad Riley cross at 66:05.

The late Irish spurt proved futile when Brian Johnson of Rutgers scored an insurance goal at the 80:42 mark.

“It happens,” Clark said of the loss. “We can’t read too much into it except to look at the goals and see how we lost them.”

Rutgers now leads the all-time series with Notre Dame with a 9-3-1 record. The 5-2 victory also marks the Scarlet Knights’ sixth straight win over the Irish.

Notre Dame is 5-2-1 at Alumni field this season, with one home game remaining on Oct. 31 against Villanova.

The Irish drop to fifth in the Big East conference with its loss to Rutgers. St. John’s (5-1-0), Rutgers (4-1-1), Virginia Tech (4-2-0) and Connecticut (3-1-2) have better records heading into the season’s homestretch.

“It is disappointing to lose the game,” Clark said. “But the test for us is do we use this as a stepping stone or a stumbling block? I think we have to use this as a stepping stone and get back on the right path on Tuesday. We have six remaining games, and they’re all tough games.”

Notre Dame’s next test comes this Tuesday on the road at non-conference opponent Cleveland State. The Vikings (6-7) are in the middle of a four-game losing streak after dropping a 2-0 decision to Marshall.