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Men’s Soccer: Thrown to the Wolverines

Greg Arbogast | Thursday, October 2, 2008

Notre Dame had another first Wednesday night against Michigan, but this was one that Irish coach Bobby Clark may opt not to remember.

With its 3-1 loss to Michigan in Ypsilanti, Mich., Notre Dame has lost back-to-back regular season games for the first time under the Scotsman’s eight-year tenure as head coach.

The loss drops No. 8 Notre Dame’s record to 6-3-1 overall on the season. It will likely be accompanied by a fall in the rankings, but that’s of little importance to Clark, who sees benefit in the difficult competition the Irish have played to date.

“We’ve played arguably the toughest schedule in the country, and we’re going to lose games like it or lump it,” Clark said. “My approach is always to get as hard a schedule as possible, and hopefully it prepares us for down the road.

“If we’re fortunate enough to make the [NCAA] Tournament in November, we’ll be battle-hardened and ready for anything the Tournament throws at us,” he said.

Wednesday night was a good preview of the type of game the Irish might see come November. Although the visitors possessed the ball for the majority of the game, Notre Dame ran into a stingy Michigan defense that sat back and looked to counter.

The Wolverines made the initial breakthrough in the tenth minute on their first shot of the game. Finding space twenty-five yards from the goal, Michigan junior forward Mauro Fuzetti ripped a low shot past Notre Dame goalkeeper Phillip Tuttle, who was given his first start of the season by Clark.

The Irish responded 13 minutes later when sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky threaded a ball behind the Michigan defense into the path of fellow forward Bright Dike. The senior made no mistake as he fired it home from five yards out. With the goal, Dike has a team-leading seven tallies, and he’s found the back of the net in four straight games.

The Irish bench had hardly sat down from celebrating before the lead was gone. Less than a minute after Dike’s goal, Wolverines forward Jake Stacy sneaked to the back and headed a Perica Marosevic cross home.

“We absolutely had control of the game at that point, yet we let up two goals on three shots,” Clark said. “It can be a funny game at times. Although we had the majority of the play, they have guys that can counter very well.”

After taking their one-goal lead into halftime, Michigan returned to the field even more content to remain in its own half of the field and play for the occasional counter-attack. That strategy paid off in a game-clinching third goal in the 69th minute. Marosevic was the goal-scorer this time as he received a Fuzetti pass and fired past Tuttle.

Although the Irish pressed for the rest of the game and generated five corner kicks, they were unable to mount a comeback.

“They were content to sit on their lead and counter, so it was difficult to create chances,” Clark said of the second half. “We created a lot of half-chances. I felt in a funny way it was easier for them as they could sit back and counter.”

Notre Dame returns home to take on No. 24 Georgetown this Sunday at Alumni Field.