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Men’s Soccer: Irish draw against Wildcats

Molly Sammon | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Despite outshining Northwestern in both shots and shots on goal, Notre Dame couldn’t pull away from the Wildcats in a 1-1, double-overtime draw Wednesday.

The two Midwestern powers met at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire, in Bridgeview, Ill.

“It’s a great stadium, and a great place to play a game of soccer,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said of his program’s first appearance on a Major League Soccer (MLS) field.

“We played awfully well. The stats will tell you where the game was. We controlled the game.”

The teams played a scoreless first half, but Wildcats senior forward Matt Eliason scored two minutes after halftime, placing a blocked-shot rebound into the back of the Irish net.

“In the second half, we were a little slow to start,” Clark said. “But I felt that that period, it really almost fired us up when they scored their goal.”

Notre Dame’s offense came through in the 79th minute of the game when senior forward Steven Perry, assisted by junior midfielder Michael Rose, sent a short shot past Wildcats keeper junior Drew Kotler.

Kotler’s 11 saves against the Irish set a Northwestern record for most saves in a game.

“When the goal came in with 12 minutes left, I was confident that we would finish the game with a win, but it never quite happened,” Clark said. “We had been pressing during the final minutes.”

The Irish (3-2-3) notched 30 total shots, with 12 on goal. Notre Dame managed nearly twice as many shots in the second half of the contest as it did in the first.

“We seemed to have run into quite a good goalkeeper,” Clark said.

Though no winner was decided at the end of the game, the game was certainly a success for the Irish offense.

“When you get 30 shots in a game, when you force their goalie to 11 saves, that’s as good as it gets,” Clark said.

Despite a performance that fell in line with his expectations, Clark took away one area of the game he would like to focus on this week in practice.

“There were so many positives from this game, but we still need to figure out how to turn domination into goals,” Clark said. “I don’t know the answer yet.”

Wednesday’s game marked the season debut of senior goalkeeper and captain Phil Tuttle. Tuttle sat out the first portion of the season due to an achilles injury.

“One big part of tonight’s game was having our captain, Phil Tuttle back,” Clark said. “It was great to have his leadership back on the field. He had some very good saves tonight, too.”

The Irish will next welcome Providence to Notre Dame’s Alumni Stadium Sunday for their second Big East game of the season.

“We didn’t get the win out, but it was an exciting game,” Clark said. “I feel very confident if we keep getting the shots we’re getting, we’ll be close to becoming a great team.”