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ND Men’s Soccer: Squad undefeated in conference play

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No. 7 Notre Dame returned to its winning ways over fall break, going 2-0-1 in three Big East contests and gaining sole possession of first place in the conference.

The Irish (10-3-4, 7-0-3) are the only unbeaten club in the conference and currently hold a two-point lead over Connecticut with one regular season game left to play.

“One of our goals is to win the league championship – it is a true measure of your success,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Our destiny lies in our own hands, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Notre Dame could have clinched the title with a win over Providence on Sunday, but the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Junior captain Matt Besler got the scoring started when he headed in a Joseph Lapira free kick from the left side.

The Friars kept it close in the back-and-forth battle by putting one in with under a minute remaining in the first half. Junior Nick Cianci scored the goal for Providence and Jonathon Medcalf was credited with the assist.

The second half went much the same way as the first, with Notre Dame scoring first and Providence notching a late goal to tie it up. Lapira found senior defender Ryan Miller for the second Irish goal in the 65th minute.

Notre Dame was unable to hold on to the slim lead and the game ended after two scoreless overtime periods.

“We were playing well, and that’s the key,” Clark said. “If you play well, nine out of ten times you will come out on top.”

The Irish played well in their first two games during the break coming away with a pair of shutouts over Seton Hall (2-0) and Pittsburgh (3-0).

Senior Alex Yoshinaga scored his second goal of the season, as well setting up a Seton Hall own goal in a win over the Pirates on Oct. 21.

The Irish took the lead in the 18th minute when Yoshinaga took a free kick from the left side that deflected off a Pirate and past Seton Hall keeper Paul McHenry for a 1-0 advantage.

Yoshinaga put one in on his own in the second half when he tipped in a Besler throw-in. The long throw reached the front of the net and Yoshinaga deflected it low for his second goal of the season.

“It was good to see him get another goal, I hope there is going to be a few more of those before the year is over,” Clark said.

The win ended a three-game winless streak for the Irish, who lost games to Indiana and Michigan State and tied No. 1 Connecticut.

The team stayed hot with another big individual effort in their 3-0 win over the Panthers. Sophomore midfielder Justin Morrow buried two goals in the first five minutes of the contest to put it virtually out of reach for Pittsburgh.

“[Morrow has] two good feet and great wheels,” Clark said. “He is really starting to become an impact player.”

Lapira picked up assists on both of the goals, bringing his season total to six assists and 18 points, both team highs.

Notre Dame will play its final regular season game at Georgetown on Saturday with a chance to guarantee a Big East Championship and top seed in the upcoming conference tournament with a win.