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Men’s Soccer: ND falls in OT heartbreaker

Greg Arbogast | Monday, September 29, 2008

All good things must come to an end, but this one was particularly difficult to swallow for No. 3 Notre Dame.

The Irish’s seven-game unbeaten streak, Fifteen-game regular season Big East unbeaten run and stretch of 395 minutes without conceding a goal all come to an end with a 2-1 OT loss at No. 19 Louisville.

It all changed on one blow of the whistle.

Leading 1-0 in the final minute of regulation, Notre Dame appeared poised to complete a 2-0 weekend and move its Big East record to 4-0-1, but the Cardinals were awarded a penalty kick. Midfielder Aaron Clapham stepped forward to convert the kick sending the match into overtime. Five minutes into the extra frame, Louisville would pull out the win when defender Austin Berry headed home a corner kick.

“It was very disappointing to lose on a penalty kick in the 90th minute,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “That’s always a tough one. I thought we opened the game well, but I didn’t feel it was one of our better games.”

The final stats back up Clark’s assessment of his team’s performance. Despite taking the minimal advantage into the final minute of regulation, Notre Dame was outshot by Louisville 13-5 in the second half and 21-10 for the entire match.

Despite Louisville’s superiority in the second half, the Irish were the first team to find the back of the net. In the 51st minute, sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky’s shot was deflected by Cardinals’ keeper Andre Bordeaux straight to Irish forward Bright Dike. The senior controlled the ball and put it home to give Notre Dame the lead and register his team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Dike’s goal was followed by an onslaught of Louisville pressure. The Cardinals created chances in the 71st and 87th minutes, but they wouldn’t break through until the penalty in the final minute.

“After we got the goal in the second half, we kind of sat back on it,” Clark said. “They became very direct and they have some pretty big boys. They are always going to be dangerous whether in corner kicks or long throw-ins. They pinned us in for long periods of the second half.”

Notre Dame didn’t leave themselves such a slim margin for error earlier in the weekend at Cincinnati. After opening the scoring once again early in the second half, the Irish pushed home two more goals for a comfortable 3-0 win over the Bearcats.

The first tally came twelve minutes into the second half when junior forward Tamba Samba received a pass from fellow forward Steven Perry, turned his defender and finished far post. It was the second consecutive game that Samba scored off a feed from Perry, and Clark was complimentary of the play of his two forwards.

“The big thing today was the play of Steven Perry and Tamba Samba,” Clark said. “They were terrific. They came on and for the first time this season I feel they really stamped their authority in a game and that was terrific.”

After Samba’s goal, some of the Irish’s usual suspects made sure to leave their mark on the game. Just over ten minutes after the opening goal, junior midfielder Michael Thomas received a pass at the top of the box from fellow midfielder Justin Morrow. Thomas proceeded to fire past Cincinnati keeper Robert Cavicchia for his fifth goal of the season.

Dike would finish off the scoring in the 88th minute unassisted when he muscled through the Bearcat defense and fired home from six yards out.

Notes

u Notre Dame’s win over Cincinnati Friday night was Clark’s 100th career victory with the Irish. That puts him third on the list for career wins behind Rich Hunter – 128 wins from 1977-1983 – and Mike Berticelli – 104 wins from 1990-1999.