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Offense struggles over break

Matt Gamber | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No. 13 Notre Dame was left clinging to a one-point lead in the Big East Blue standings after scoring just once in two conference road games – a tie and an overtime loss – last week.

The Irish (9-5-2, 5-2-2 Big East) played Seton Hall (6-7-4, 2-4-4 Big East) to a 1-1 draw Wednesday and lost a 1-0 overtime decision Saturday to No. 15 Connecticut on the road (8-3-5, 5-3-1 Big East), the Blue division’s second-place team.

“We had chances to win for sure, but we just didn’t take them,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “The soccer gods can be very cruel at times, but the team did a lot of good things … The nice thing about it was that it wasn’t the way we planned the week, but we’ve got two games remaining, and if we win, we win the league.”

Senior defender Alex Yoshinaga netted Notre Dame’s only goal of the trip against the Pirates, an equalizer in the 82nd minute that would force extra time. Senior forward Bright Dike fed Yoshinaga, who blasted it from 20 yards out for his first goal of the season.

Notre Dame dominated the stat sheet against Seton Hall, but the Pirates struck in the 13th minute to force the Irish to play from behind. Notre Dame’s 27 shots and 13 corner kicks were both season highs, while Seton Hall took just 18 shots and four corners.

Dike led the Irish attack with seven shots, including three on goal, but was unable to beat Pirates goalkeeper Paul McHenry, who made eight saves.

“We just somehow didn’t quite finish that game off, as we obviously played very well,” Clark said. “We carried the game and we generated a lot of offense. Some of it was good goalkeeping [by McHenry] and some of it was not quite putting it away.”

The Irish attack managed only 10 shots in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Huskies, who received a golden goal from Cruz Hernandez in the third minute of overtime.

Notre Dame’s defense held strong during the first half despite being out-shot 9-2. The team’s only first-half chance was a shot from junior midfielder Michael Thomas that hit the side of the netting.

The Irish offense came alive in the second half, twice coming close to gaining the advantage while out-shooting the Huskies 8-5.

Senior defender Jack Traynor narrowly missed a free kick in the 63rd minute, sending the ball just over the crossbar from 20 yards out. Junior forward Tamba Samba sent a shot just wide of the post in the 77th minute.

“That was one where there just weren’t a lot of chances at either end, and I guess you could say we were a little bit unlucky not to take something out of that game,” Clark said. “That’s a credit to Connecticut … it was a game with a lot of respect for both teams, and it was very windy, so obviously the team that was playing with the wind had a little bit more of the game.”

The Irish host third-place Georgetown tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in a rescheduled game. The Big East tilt was originally scheduled for Oct. 5 but was postponed after a norovirus outbreak on the Georgetown campus.

The Hoyas (9-3-3, 4-2-3 Big East) trail the Irish two points in the Blue division, which means a victory would catapult Georgetown into the divisional lead.

“It’d be nice if we had [the division] already in our pocket, but we can’t do anything about that now,” Clark said. “Our aim is to get ready for Georgetown and take care of that game.”