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ND Men’s Soccer: The comforts of home

Greg Arbogast | Monday, October 9, 2006

It’s only mid-October, but Notre Dame is in post-season form.

The No. 8 Irish won their fifth consecutive game on Saturday, beating Georgetown 4-1 at Alumni Field behind two goals and one assist from junior forward Joseph Lapira.

With the win, Notre Dame improved its record to 9-3-2 (6-2-0) and kept pace with Providence to remain tied for second place in the Big East’s blue division, one point out of first.

The Irish are currently enjoying a season-high six-game unbeaten streak – twice as long as their next highest unbeaten streak of three games. But despite his team’s newfound consistency, Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark doesn’t think much about its performance has changed.

“We’ve played all year, but we’re just taking our chances now,” Clark said. “This team deserves a lot of credit for believing in themselves and their teammates. A lesser team would have folded and lost confidence, but things seemed to have turned right for us.”

Notre Dame didn’t wait long to open the scoring Saturday as senior forward Justin McGeeney gave the Irish the lead in the 13th minute. It was McGeeney’s fifth goal of the season, but his first since he scored Notre Dame’s lone goal against Cincinnati Sept. 17.

The play started when sophomore midfielder Cory Rellas slotted a through ball into the path of an onrushing McGeeney, who fired the ball into the corner of the net from 12 yards out. Rellas has assisted on the first Irish goal in three consecutive games.

Georgetown responded in the 30th minute when forward Ricky Schramm received a pass from Daniel Grosso, eluded Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill and deposited the ball into the net.

Schramm’s goal was the first scored on Cahill in 342 minutes, who has allowed only four goals in his nine games since definitively assuming the team’s starting goalkeeper responsibilities Sept. 10 against DePaul. Cahill’s record on the season stands at 8-2-1.

“Confidence and calmness are the best things to describe [Cahill],” Clark said. “He’s been there before, and he knows what he’s doing. A goalkeeper needs to have a calming effect on the defense, and Chris’s experience gives him a calmness.”

Notre Dame didn’t wait long to respond to Georgetown’s goal. Less than five minutes after the Hoyas tied the game, Lapira gave the lead back to the Irish as he one-timed a low hard cross from freshman Justin Morrow into the net.

“Our opening 25 minutes were as good as we’ve played all year, so for them to get their goal took a little wind out of our sails,” Clark said. “To get one back quickly helped a lot.”

Lapira would double Notre Dame’s lead in the 60th minute off a misplay from Georgetown keeper Joe Devine. Irish defender Jack Traynor sent a long ball towards the Hoya penalty box, but Devine’s clearance rebounded off Lapira, who proceeded to collect the ball and deposit it into the empty net.

Lapira, who entered the game leading the nation with 15 goals, now has 17 on the year.

Senior co-captain Greg Dalby scored Notre Dame’s final goal when he headed a Lapira corner kick into the corner of the net. It was Dalby’s second goal on the season.

Notre Dame will return to action this Wednesday at home when it plays Michigan State at 7 p.m. The team has just four regular season games remaining, but Clark refuses to look too far ahead.

“We’re obviously getting better every day, but my only concern right now is Michigan State,” Clark said. “We’re taking it one game at a time.”