Win, draw put unbeaten streak at 7
Joe Meixell | Monday, October 1, 2007
No. 2 Notre Dame stretched its unbeaten streak to seven games this weekend with a 2-1 win over Louisville and a 1-1 draw with defending Big East champion Cincinnati.
The team stayed unbeaten in the conference, moving to 4-0-1 against Big East teams and 6-1-2 overall this season.
Both games were played at Alumni Field and were the start of a stretch in which the Irish will play seven of eight on their home turf.
Notre Dame 1, Cincinnati 1
Notre Dame has accomplished a lot of things under coach Bobby Clark, but beating Cincinnati in Big East play isn’t one of them.
Despite out-shooting the Bearcats 24-9 and holding an 11-2 edge in corner kicks, the Irish could manage only a 1-1 draw Friday night in front of 1,895 fans.
The tie brought the Irish winless streak against Cincinnati to three, as Notre Dame has not beaten the Bearcats since they joined the Big East in 2005.
“Cincinnati has got our number here,” Clark said after the game. “They certainly seem to find ways to frustrate us.”
The Irish out-shot Cincinnati 11-2 in the first half and possessed the ball for the majority of the time, but it was the Bearcats who opened the scoring shortly after halftime. In the 53rd minute, Cincinnati defender Lionel Jackson sent an in-swinging free kick from the right sideline to the net. Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill, coming out to intercept the cross, had the ball sail over his head, and Bearcat defender Brad Simpson crashed at the back post to head it home.
“That’s the area they were going to beat us, and that’s where their goal came from,” Clark said. “That’s the only way they were [going to beat us].”
The Irish created multiple chances in the ensuing minutes with midfielder Justin Morrow having the best opportunity only one minute after the Bearcats’ goal, but his shot from just outside the box was saved by Cincinnati keeper Miguel Rosales.
Notre Dame finally broke through in the 76th minute, when it scored on a nearly identical play as the Bearcats’ goal. Irish defender Jack Traynor sent a free kick in from the right sideline and found defender Matt Besler, who headed the ball home from six yards out.
Both teams created multiple scoring opportunities in the remaining minutes before overtime, and it took a header off the endline by Irish defender Cory Rellas to prevent a shot by Cincinnati’s Chris Thompson from finding the back of the net in the 85th minute.
Notre Dame’s best chance to win the game came four minutes into the first overtime when Ryan Miller got onto the end of a Joseph Lapira corner kick, but his diving header from 12 yards out was parried by a diving Rosales.
Rosales, the reigning Big East rookie of the week, had seven saves on the night and was a big reason the Irish were held to one goal.
“He had a few saves, several of them very good saves,” Clark said. “[The save on Miller’s header] was the one that stood out in my mind.”
u Notre Dame forward Kurt Martin, who has been receiving treatment for an injured ankle this past week, left the game in the 20th minute due to the injury and did not return.
“It’s not bad, but it’s enough to take him out of the game,” Clark said.
u Lapira, who has been hampered by a muscle injury since the Rhode Island game Sept. 7, played the entire game for the first time this season.
Notre Dame 2, Louisville 1
Louisville made it interesting in the closing minutes Sunday afternoon, but the Irish hung on to their halftime lead to improve to 6-0 against Louisville all time.
Notre Dame dominated play throughout the first half, outshooting the Cardinals 9-5 and keeping on the attacking side for the majority of the time.
“It was strange, it was one of these games where I thought we put on a clinic in the first half,” Clark said. “I don’t know if we thought we would automatically win the game.”
Louisville turned up the intensity in the second half and began to play a much more physical style in front of the Notre Dame net.
“They’ve got a couple of very big boys, and we’re not the biggest team in the world,” Clark said.
Senior Marco Terminesi (6-foot-0, 180 pounds) used his size to get Louisville on the board in the 77th minute on a penalty kick. Notre Dame committed two questionable fouls within 10 seconds to give Terminesi an opportunity.
The goal fired up the Cardinals, and they threatened for the remaining 13 minutes of the game, but the Irish defense and senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill were able to hold them off.
“The guys showed a lot of character going down the line,” Clark said. “They proved that they could fight back in a game they thought they had won.”
Notre Dame once again jumped out to an early start when sophomore Jeb Brovsky notched his second career goal five minutes into the contest.
Traynor crossed a pass from the left side and Brovsky finished to give Notre Dame an early lead.
Lapira scored the eventual game winner 30 minutes later by chipping a shot to the far post with his heel. Senior midfielder Kyle Dulworth picked up his first career point with the assist.
“That goal was the icing on the cake for a great first half [for Lapira],” Clark said. “It was a tremendous goal.”
The 2006 M.A.C. Hermann award winner Lapira is contending to repeat as the country’s best player, leading the Irish with seven points.
Notre Dame takes on non-conference rivals Michigan Wednesday night at Alumni Field.