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Men’s Soccer: Irish travel to Ann Arbor

Eric Retter | Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark anticipates that someone other than forward Joseph Lapira will score Wednesday against Michigan (5-5-2, 0-1-1 Big Ten). Not that he minds if only Lapira does it.

The Irish junior, who has 13 goals this season, was named Big East offensive player of the week last week for the second time this season. He scored two goals in each of Notre Dame’s last three games, including the opening goal in each match. In large part because of his performance, No. 8 Notre Dame (7-3-2, 5-2-0 Big East) is on a three-game winning streak and is unbeaten in its past four matches heading into Wednesday’s contest in Ann Arbor.

Clark remains confident Lapira won’t have to carry the offense for much longer.

“It would be nice to get some of the other lads back [into scoring],” Clark said. “I think there’s a lot of goals there. It’s just a matter of time before some of the other guys start helping Joe out.”

One of the players Clark expects to put balls in the back of the net is forward Justin McGeeney. McGeeney has four goals on the season, but has been slowed down by an ankle injury for the past few weeks and has not scored since Sept. 17 at Cincinnati, when the Irish lost 2-1.

“McGeeney was playing well [before his injury], and he’s almost back to full fitness,” Clark said. “Hopefully, he’s almost back to one hundred percent.”

Regardless of who scores the goals, Clark is pleased that the offense has found its rhythm after an inconsistent start.

“It’s no question its goals are what win games,” he said. “It’s great when you get on the scoreboard. Early in the season we were making good chances, but we weren’t converting. It’s nice when we do convert.”

Defensively, the Irish have fared well behind goalkeeper Chris Cahill. Cahill was named the Big East goalkeeper of the week last week and has given up only one goal in the last four games.

Clark said the offense and defense had begun to play off each other, and implied that Cahill and Lapira were not the only players who had been playing well of late.

“I think you have to be careful you don’t forget the rest of the team because they help make both these people more successful,” he said. “You don’t just get goals off one guy and you don’t stop goals with one guy. It’s a team thing. The whole team is taking chances, and we’ve been dominating.”

The Wolverines will be spearheaded by forward Perica Marosevic. Marosevic leads Michigan with five goals and was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week on Sept. 25.

Despite the .500 record, Clark said the Wolverines are one of the more dangerous teams on Notre Dame’s schedule.

“We’re under no illusions of how hard this game will be,” he said. “There are a lot of NCAA tournament ramifications. They’re a very talented team, [and] they’ve played a talented schedule. They’ve been playing good teams and they’ve been playing them very well and very closely.”

Ultimately, Clark said the Irish were looking forward to the intensity that comes as a part of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry.

“There’s no love lost between these two universities on the athletic fields,” he said.