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Men’s Soccer: Irish hope to find rhythm of success starting with NIU

Eric Retter | Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It’s back to square one.

That’s where Notre Dame (4-3-1, 2-2-0 Big East) stands heading into today’s home game against Northern Illinois (5-3) after another 1-1 weekend. The Irish topped Louisville 2-0 Friday but fell to Cincinnati 2-1 Sunday. After splitting the weekend games, the Irish fell out of the top-25 in both the NSCAA/adidas poll and the SoccerTimes.com poll for the first time this season.

“It’s not the way we wanted, [but] it’s a tough schedule,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “You’re up to two [wins] in a row then down to scratch again. You’re back to one day at a time, but that’s the nature of the beast.”

Clark, however, has not seen much in the team’s play that discourages him.

“We’ve been playing pretty steadily – it’s not like we’ve been playing badly,” he said. “There’s not much to do except tidy up a few things. [There’s] nothing terribly wrong but a few things and little things that cost you games.”

The Huskies are also coming off a 1-1 weekend after they fell to Washington 5-0 Friday but beat Portland 1-0 Sunday. Their coach, Steve Simmons, was excited about taking on the Irish.

“This matchup against Notre Dame is a big game for us, as well as another opportunity to see where we measure up to a traditional power,” he said in a statement released by the Northern Illinois athletic department.

Notre Dame will be led by senior captain and All-American Greg Dalby, who is a semifinalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, presented annually to the best collegiate soccer player.

The Irish will also feature forwards Joseph Lapira and Justin McGeeney, who lead the team with seven and four goals, respectively.

Both increased their scoring totals this past weekend, as McGeeney tallied Notre Dame’s lone goal in Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati while Lapira added both Irish goals in the win over Louisville.

After sharing goalkeeping duties with sophomore Andrew Quinn for the first five games, senior Chris Cahill has started between the posts for the Irish in each of the last three games. Clark, however, wouldn’t explicitly state whether or not Cahill would extend his games-started streak to four.

“He’s done exceptionally well in the last three games, so you can read into that what you will,” he said.

For the squad, Clark is confident that the way the Irish have practiced these past months will pay off.

“You’ve got to keep the team moving forward,” he said. “Every time you take the field you got to get a little better, and if we do that we’ll be fine.”