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Biting back

Kate Gales | Thursday, October 14, 2004

All victories are sweet. But Wednesday night at Alumni Field, revenge made a 3-0 walloping of the No. 22 Wolverines that much better for the Irish.”We talked about it beforehand and everyone came to a consensus that we wouldn’t be thinking about last year coming into this game,” co-captain and All-American goalkeeper Chris Sawyer said. “But as a returning player, it’s a little hard not to [remember]. I think everyone had a little bit personal of a vendetta out there, so it was just awesome to come out here and completely dominate them.”Despite a few scares by the Wolverine offense, the win could have important bearings on the postseason.”It wasn’t our best performance, but we got the result,” midfielder Greg Dalby said. “It was a really big regional game for the NCAA Tournament – to get a big win over Michigan.”Last year, the Wolverines tied the Irish 1-1 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and advanced after a penalty kick shootout.This year, Luke Boughen, Justin McGeeney and Nate Norman contributed a goal apiece to keep the No. 7 Irish rolling on a six-game shutout victory streak. The team improved to 10-2-1 on the season.”It was really nice to see people like Luke Boughen step up, getting crucial goals for us,” Sawyer said. “I thought it was a great overall battle for the team because they were really coming at us all game.”McGeeney notched his fifth goal of the season early in the contest, going two-on-one with a Michigan player and the goalkeeper off an Ian Etherington feed.It didn’t take long for the Irish to light up the scoreboards again, as a Kevin Goldthwaite free kick deep in Wolverine territory was settled by Joe Lapira and put home by Boughen.”Our offense being productive has definitely taken a lot of pressure off the defense,” Sawyer said. “But the guys in front of me, my four backs, have just been absolutely outstanding.”After being dominated for much of the first half, however, the Wolverines started the final period hungry. Aggressive defense and an opportunistic offense forced the Irish defense to stay close, limiting runs into Michigan territory by defenders Ryan Miller, Jack Stewart and Goldthwaite.However, Norman would put a cushioning goal past the keeper at 85 minutes, 53 seconds, threading through the Michigan defense on a cross by Boughen.The game extended Sawyer’s shutout streak to 555 minutes. “I’ve had to make maybe one save a game, two saves max, and that’s how you know your [team is] doing well – you’re not allowing many shots,” he said.The team will hit the road over fall break with three crucial Big East conference games. Tonight’s game, while out of conference, was a quality opponent who challenged the Irish both offensively and defensively.”I thought our performance was a little bit back-and-forth,” Sawyer said. “I know we can play better than that. Soccer sometimes is all about weathering the storm and taking advantage of opportunities when you get them.”The Irish have been doing so all season.