The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Soccer: ND knocks off No. 5 Terps in College Park

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 20, 2006

With its 1-0 win in double overtime against fifth-seeded Maryland Saturday night in College Park, No. 12 Notre Dame knocked the defending champion out of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

That wasn’t even the most impressive part.

By defeating Maryland, the Irish booked their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. After three consecutive losses in the Sweet 16, including a 1-0 loss to Clemson last season and a defeat in penalty kicks to Michigan in 2003, Notre Dame will advance to play No. 4 seed Virginia Friday.

“It certainly was an excellent win,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “That’s two years in a row that we’ve knocked the defending champion out at their place. The program is growing with credibility every year.”

Junior forward Joseph Lapira once again provided the spark for the Notre Dame offense. Lapira, who leads the nation in both goals (22) and points (49), tallied the only goal of the match off a beautiful feed from central defender Dale Rellas with just over three minutes to go in the second overtime.

The play started when Rellas won the ball 30 yards from the Maryland goal. He proceeded to thread a pass in between two Terrapin defenders to an onrushing Lapira. Lapira then hammered a low shot past Maryland goalie Chris Seitz off the far post and into the goal.

The tally was Lapira’s fourth career goal in the NCAA Tournament, including Notre Dame’s only goal against Illinois-Chicago in its 1-0 second round victory Wednesday and against both Western Illinois and Indiana in last year’s NCAA Tournament. With his goal Saturday night, Lapira set a new program record for career goals in the NCAA Tournament, a mark previously held by Justin Detter at three goals.

“[Lapira] has scored enough goals that we’ve come to expect this kind of performance out of him,” Clark said. “He’s a goal scorer, and if he gets half a chance, he’s usually going to put them away.”

Just two minutes prior to Lapira’s golden goal, the Irish were inches away from another frustrating exit from the final 16. Terrapin midfielder Stephen King beat Irish keeper Andrew Quinn – replacing starter Chris Cahill, who was injured in the 35th minute – but King’s shot rebounded back off the post.

Quinn, who hadn’t seen serious minutes since Sept. 8 against South Florida, came off the bench to make four saves. After the match, Clark praised the effort of his sophomore goalie.

“Quinn has been such a positive person all season,” Clark said. “What we did early in the season – giving both Quinn and Cahill game action – really worked out well because it let the team get used to Quinn and let him get some experience.”

Maryland had most of its good chances before Cahill was injured when it controlled the run of play. Just over two minutes into the match, King sent a blast towards the Notre Dame goal that Cahill was forced to deflect over the crossbar. Later in the half, Terrapin midfielder Maurice Edu sent a shot towards the left corner of the goal, but Cahill was there again to make one of his three saves on the night.

The Irish responded later in the first half when an unmarked Nate Norman received a cross near the left side of the box, but his shot was stopped by Seitz who had seven saves on the evening.

“It took a little while for us to settle,” Clark said. “The first 20 minutes were the toughest for us, but as the game went on we were the better side.”