Men’s Soccer: Unfinished Business
Greg Arbogast | Thursday, September 6, 2007
With a career goals-against average of 0.81, fifth-year Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill looks good in goal. But his 6-foot-6 frame may look even better in spandex.
Just ask Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Rick Perry.
At last year’s season-ending banquet, Cahill, in front of 300 fans and alumni, presented Perry with a full-body picture of the lanky keeper flexing in spandex. That sense of humor is one reason Cahill’s coaches and teammates are glad to have him around for one more season. His play just might be another reason.
Both Cahill and fellow fifth-year senior Ryan Miller decided last spring to take advantage of their final year of eligibility. Given how the 2006 season ended, it was an easy decision.
Notre Dame reached the round of eight for the first time in school history, but took a hard-fought, 3-2 loss to Virginia. The Irish were left wondering what could have been.
“[The loss to Virginia] leaves a hunger in your stomach,” Miller said. “It’s something you know you can do better with, and you want to get back again.”
Cahill echoed Miller’s sentiments.
“There wasn’t any closure,” Cahill said. “[Last year] was unfortunate because we had a great senior class, but with this year’s guys, the sky is the limit.”
Whatever potential Notre Dame has this season, Cahill and Miller are sure to be a big part of it.
Known for making jokes with his teammates, Cahill also tends to get the last laugh against his opponents. In his two-plus years as a starter, Cahill has compiled a career record of 27-13-4, and his three shutouts in the NCAA tournament are a program record.
Last season, Cahill was an all-BIG EAST third-team selection with a 0.77 goals-against average and .817 save percentage.
He kicked off his final season in similar style, earning Big East goalkeeper-of-the-week honors last week after collecting four saves in Notre Dame’s 2-1 overtime win over No. 1 UCLA in Bloomington, Ind.
“It is [Cahill’s] third year being the starter, and that’s great experience for him,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “He’s always had great hands, but he’s now improved so many things. He’s a great goalkeeper.”
Miller offered similar high praise for his teammate, saying that Cahill is one of the best goalies in the nation.
Miller himself will be just as essential as Cahill to any Irish title hopes this season.
The fifth-year marking back has been a starter since the day he arrived in South Bend, and the only reason Miller is back this season is because of a knee injury that ended his freshman year after two games. Since returning from the injury, Miller has been a staple at right back for the Irish, starting 65 straight matches dating back to his sophomore season.
“[Miller] is a seasoned veteran when it comes to games, and a lot of guys respect him for that,” Cahill said. “People turn to him whenever we’re about to face a good team, and he’s always going to be poised because he’s been there a few times before.”
About the only place Miller hasn’t been in his career is the College Cup – soccer’s version of the Final Four.
Along with Cahill, he has one more chance to change that.