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Men’s Soccer: ND ties, loses to top teams

Jared Jedick | Monday, September 7, 2009

No. 10 Notre Dame faced two of the powerhouses of college soccer this weekend and came out with mixed results, tying No. 3 Wake Forest 1-1 and losing to No. 1 St. John’s 2-0 in Bloomington, Ind.

The Irish were competing in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, which pits many of the top teams in the nation against one another and gave Notre Dame an early gauge of where they stand against the best of the best.

The first game on Friday against Wake Forest saw a long battle that featured a penalty shot goal from senior midfielder Michael Thomas to tie the match in the 77th minute.

Senior forward Bright Dike was taken down inside the 18-yard box to trigger the foul that knotted up the game.

“The penalty kick was well deserved because Dike was through and was brought down,” said Irish coach Bobby Clark. “Michael (Thomas) stepped up and took the penalty kick.”

The Irish were threatening the Wake Forest goal all game, including quality shots from Thomas and senior midfielder Justin Morrow that just could not find their way into the goal.

In the 34th minute the Demon Deacons took the lead on a cross from Wake Forest junior midfielder Corben Bone sent a cross in to sophomore forward Luke Norman who headed the ball into the back of the net.

Notre Dame kept the pressure on with a header that nearly went in from Dike, but the Irish were unable to even the score until the penalty shot.

“Even right through the overtime I thought we had the mentality to want to win the game,” Clark said. “For this early in the season I felt it was a good performance by us.”

The Irish stayed strong and did not allow an early deficit to prevent them from coming back and tying the game.

“We went down against a top team in the first half, but we then out shot them 10-5 in the second half and that was key,” said Clark. “I thought the team showed a lot of character. I felt that we opened well and their goal came against the run of play. I thought we really took the game to them in the second half. It was a good team performance for us.”

The second match saw the Irish match up against the top-ranked team in the nation in St. John’s, and although they did not come out with the victory, the Irish battled tough, keeping the score even at 0-0 until late into the second half.

“It was a really competitive game in the first half,” said Clark. “St. John’s is a very hard pressing team, which made it difficult for us to establish our game. I thought we played as well as we could have played in the second half. We just didn’t convert on the day. I was proud of the way we played. It’s tough when you play as well as we did and then take nothing out of it.”

The Irish had a chance to take the lead early in the first half when junior forward Steven Perry was taken down in the box attempting a header, but Michael Thomas was unable to convert the penalty into a goal against St. John’s goalkeeper Derby Carillo.

The Red Raiders held a 7-6 shot advantage in the first half, along with a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks.

St. John’s ended the scoreless tie in the 68th minute of the second half when Red Raider junior midfielder Sverre Wegge Gundhus nailed a goal from 18 yards out.

“St. John’s is a good team and it just wasn’t our day,” said Clark. “We had some missed chances and their goalkeeper saved the penalty kick.”

The scored remained 1-0 until the final seconds of the game, when the Irish attempted to even the score by bringing the goalie out to put extra pressure on the St. John’s defense. This strategy backfired, however, when St. John’s capitalized on the empty net off the foot of senior midfielder Nelson Becerra.

“It certainly wasn’t our day,” said Clark.

Notre Dame will next take the field in the eighth annual Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium next weekend against Seattle on Friday and New Mexico on Sunday.