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ND Men’s Soccer: Cahill, Quinn earning keep, share save duties

Greg Arbogast | Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It’s a dilemma that most teams wouldn’t mind having.

That is, choosing between a senior goalkeeper coming off a season in which he started every game posting a 0.85 goals against average and a sophomore who – until Friday night against South Florida – hadn’t allowed a goal in 283 minutes of action.

Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark’s solution? Play both of them. Senior Chris Cahill and sophomore Andrew Quinn have rotated games throughout the young season with both turning in solid performances.

“Both keepers have come in and have done well,” Clark said. “Chris did well last year, and while he was away in the spring (studying abroad in Australia), Quinn came in and did very well … By and large, we’re satisfied with where they are at this point.”

While some people may see the current situation as a distraction, both Clark and his two goalkeepers recognize the benefits of healthy competition.

“There’s less of a margin for error,” Cahill said. “It helps because we’re very competitive in training, which makes us better.”

Practicing together every day, warming each other up before games and competing with one another for the same position have helped the two keepers develop a close relationship. Furthermore, Quinn attributes Cahill’s experience as one of the reasons he has been able to adjust to life between the posts at Notre Dame.

“He’s one of my closest friends on the team, and we spend a lot of time together,” Quinn said. “He’s a veteran keeper, and he’s been really helpful in teaching me a lot of things.”

Keeping both keepers satisfied is a challenge, and it helps to have a coach who can relate to what they’re going through. During his 15-year playing career, Clark played goalkeeper in the Scottish Second Division, Scottish Premier League and North American Soccer League and was a member of three Scottish World Cup teams.

“Being a keeper myself, I have an understanding of what it’s like to be both the starter and the backup,” Clark said. “As the backup, you want to be supportive, but you also want to compete. It’s a fine line.”

Determining which, if either, of the two keepers will start and who will come off the bench may be the biggest challenge of all. Including preseason games, Cahill has posted a record of 3-1-0, while the team stands at 2-1-1 with Quinn in goal. Quinn, with his 0.75 goals against average holds an edge over Cahill, who has allowed 1.25 goals a game.

“Both Chris and I are capable of doing what we need to do in goal,” Quinn said. “The team’s comfortable with whoever’s back there, and that’s the bottom line.”

If history is any indication, Clark won’t hesitate to maintain the rotation throughout the season. Back in 1990, when he was head coach at Dartmouth, Clark used a two-man keeper rotation to help the Big Green win the Ivy League title and advance all the way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

“These types of decisions are often made for you,” Clark said. “At Dartmouth, we planned on choosing one keeper, but we didn’t because they both merited playing time. We’ll make a decision if and when the time comes, but if the decision was clear, it would have already been made.”