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Men’s Soccer: Impressive Irish take out No. 9 Northwestern

Jared Jedick | Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Irish capped off an undefeated exhibition season with a 1-0 win over No. 9 Northwestern on Monday, propelling Notre Dame into the regular season on a winning note. The Irish, No. 12 in the NSCAA National Rankings defeated Northern Illinois twice in a day-night double-header the week before, 2-1 and 3-0.

Sparking the Irish against Northwestern was a goal from junior forward Steven Perry with 22:06 left in the first half. Junior midfielder Josh Thiermann set up Perry beyond the Northwestern defense and Perry chipped the ball over Northwestern goalkeeper Drew Kotler and into the netting.

“It was a great goal for Steven Perry,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “I thought he looked very spritely in the first half along with Josh Thiermann.”

The goal came eight minutes after senior forward Tamba Samba missed a low shot from beyond the box that ricocheted off the left post.

The Irish controlled possession early in both halves, but began to slack off in the later moments.

“I felt we were very good at the first two-thirds of each half,” Clark said. “But the final third of each half I felt whichever group we had in got tired. “

The Irish continued to apply pressure in the second half, missing another good scoring opportunity when senior forward Bright Dike’s shot went wide after a string of passes from junior midfielder Greg Klazura and freshman midfielder Dillon Powers.

The Irish fired 13 shots at the Northwestern goal to the Wildcats’ eight, but Notre Dame lost the corner kick battle 2-1.

“We had some terrific stuff at times,” Clark said. “When we played simply and we all just connected I was very happy. We have the potential to be a good group.”

On the previous Thursday, the Irish managed a double-header sweep against Northern Illinois in a series of matches meant to gain experience for the players.

The first match, which the Irish won 2-1, showcased the younger players on the team, while the later 3-0 victory featured Notre Dame’s more seasoned veterans.

“It was great to have nearly everyone on the roster play at least a half today,” Clark said. “You want everyone to get time on the field and we were able to do that. It was especially nice to get a look at the freshmen.”

In the latter match, the Irish were led by two goals from Dike and one from senior midfielder Michael Thomas. The Irish dominated most of the time of possession.

“We really controlled possession in the second game,” Clark said. “I’d say we controlled the ball 70 percent of the time.”

The ball control allowed the Irish to dominate every phase of the game.

Notre Dame will open the regular at home against Michigan on Tuesday, Sept. 1.