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Men’s Soccer: ND win also benefits Grassroot Soccer charity

Molly Sammon | Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not only did the Irish top the University of Illinois-Chicago 3-2 in their first exhibition game of the season Monday night, but they also helped a good cause.

The profits from the game were donated to Grassroot Soccer, an organization created by Irish coach Bobby Clark’s oldest son Tommy Clark while he was in medical school. The organization uses soccer to promote HIV/AIDS research and awareness among youth in Africa.

“Hopefully Grassroot Soccer will benefit, and to all the fans that put in their dollar, I just want to say thanks to them,” Clark said. “We do this the day before classes start, and this was the seventh Grassroot Soccer Game we’ve had.”

The Irish took an early lead in the game after an assist from junior midfielder Brendan King set up classmate Aaron Maund for a goal in the 13th minute. The first half ended with the Irish up 1-0.

UIC made a comeback in the second half, scoring a goal to tie the contest.

However, the Irish responded three minutes later as junior Michael Rose scored a goal off an assist from freshman midfielder Harrison Shipp. Shipp had two assists during his debut game, the other a pass to sophomore Danny O’Leary.

“[Shipp] is not the tallest by any means, he’s not big, but when it comes to playing, he has such good skills with his feet, and he makes good decisions,” Clark said. “He’s the master of the ball. His awareness on the field is first class.”

One more goal from UIC threatened the Irish lead, but junior goalkeeper Will Walsh who held the Flames until time expired in his first start for Notre Dame, with senior team captain and expected starting goalkeeper Philip Tuttle out for the start of the season with an injury.

“[Walsh] is a capable deputy,” Clark said. 

The Flames are a familiar opponent for the Irish. The two teams have met on numerous occasions, including a contest in the NCAA Tournament.

“They are always well coached, and they play a good brand of soccer and handle the ball well,” Clark said. “They gave us a good test.”

Though the Irish proved victorious at the end of the night, Clark said the Irish have a few areas of the defensive portion of the game that needed improving. Three of the five defensive players graduated this past spring.

“It’s all about getting the familiarity back again, making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Clark said. “We hope we learned some lessons, and hopefully it’ll prepare us a little bit for when the season begins in just under two weeks.”

The Irish will spend the remainder of this week practicing for their second exhibition game against Ohio State Saturday.