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Mens’ Soccer: Worth the wait

Greg Arbogast | Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This past weekend in the Adidas IU Credit Union Classic, senior goalie Andrew Quinn played all 90 minutes in both of Notre Dame’s games. Finally.

After three years of hard work and waiting, this past weekend served as confirmation for Quinn that the moment he’s been preparing for has arrived. The starting keeper job is now solely his.

Quinn and junior keeper Phillip Tuttle split time in goal last spring as well as this preseason, but Irish coach Bobby Clark made the decision to go with the veteran before this past weekend’s tournament.

“I think Andrew deserves it,” Clark said after last Sunday’s game. “He’s been knocking at the door for three years now, and we’re going to give him a little run.”

Clark’s decision serves as vindication for all the hard work and patience that Quinn has shown over the past three seasons. As a freshman, Quinn was redshirted behind incumbent junior Chris Cahill, but opportunity soon came knocking. Cahill decided to study abroad during the spring and summer terms, leaving Quinn as the primary goalkeeper during both the spring season and the team’s summer trip to Brazil.

Quinn’s solid performance during that stretch turned Cahill’s stranglehold on the position into an open competition heading into the 2006 season. Cahill and Quinn split preseason games as well as the opening six games of the season before Clark decided to give the job back to Cahill.

“It was after the Louisville game that the Boss [Clark] came up to me and told me he was going with Cahill,” Quinn said. “I respected the Boss’s decision. He was honest with me all the way through. I just kept my head down and worked hard knowing I would get my opportunity.”

Quinn’s initial opportunity came earlier than expected when an injury to Cahill in Notre Dame’s Sweet 16 contest against Maryland forced Quinn into action. He played the majority of the contest, preserving a 2-0 Irish win. Quinn also played the second half of Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss in the Elite Eight to Virginia.

Quinn’s main opportunity would have to wait, however, as Cahill returned in 2007 for his fifth season and reclaimed the starting goalie job once again. Although injuries to Cahill allowed Quinn a few spot appearances throughout the season, Quinn once again watched Notre Dame’s run to the Elite Eight primarily from the bench.

Although Quinn may not have seen as much field time as he would have liked over the past three years, he said he feels that he has become a much better keeper during his time in South Bend.

“I think I’ve come pretty far since my freshman year,” Quinn said. “Physically, I’ve put on some muscle, lost weight, and gotten quicker.

“My biggest challenge has been mentally. That was one thing that gave Cahill an edge over me. He was much more calm and maybe more confident. We have a sports psychologist, and I’ve talked with him. He’s helped me relax and become more calm and consistent in the goal.”

Those changes are a big reason why Quinn’s opportunity has finally arrived. Even after Cahill left, Clark told Quinn that the starting job would be an open competition between him and Tuttle. With that competition now settled, Quinn can finally focus on helping Notre Dame achieve and surpass the success of the past few seasons.

“I think this team is just as good if not better than the other teams since I’ve been here,” Quinn said. “From my end, I’ve been here four years, and I’ve been here long enough to know what Coach Clark expects from us. I need to step into a leadership role and make sure we’re as organized as possible.”