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Men’s Soccer: A minute to spare

Chris Allen | Thursday, October 28, 2010

Though Notre Dame dominated possession for the first 89 minutes of their Alumni Stadium clash against Pittsburgh Wednesday, a set piece goal for the Panthers and a freak deflection on an own goal had the teams even at 2-2 with a minute left in the game. With the Irish headed for a disappointing tie, junior midfielder Brendan King headed home a cross in the final minute from senior forward Steven Perry to give Notre Dame a thrilling 3-2 win.

“We showed a lot of character, because we were dominating the way we were dominating and then you give up two goals, one on their first corner and one on a deflection,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “They stuck to playing good soccer and you felt it was a matter of time. We certainly took awhile, but it was great that Brendan was able to get the goal. From our point of view, it was one of those wins we had to have.”

The Irish opened the game controlling possession, with sophomore midfielder Dillon Powers and senior defender Greg Klazura leading a smothering Notre Dame defensive effort and a clean crisp passing display. The Irish held the ball for the majority of the first half, holding the Panthers to just three shots in the period.

“Whenever we lost the ball, we had a tremendous appetite to get back and get the ball. We held the ball for long periods of time,” Clark said. “When they took it away we immediately got on it and got the ball back.”

A number of missed chances early on in the contest caught up to Notre Dame when the Panthers got on the board first from a header off a free kick by freshman defender Alex Harrison in the 23rd minute. The Irish answered right back, storming down the field as a shot from Klazura hit the post and caromed to Perry, who buried the equalizer for the second goal in a minute of action.

“It was a good shot from Greg,” Clark said. “Of course Perry picks it up, that’s his tenth goal of the season. But it was a great response.”

The Irish grabbed a second goal four minutes later when Perry was taken down by Panthers freshman goalie Matt Aberegg in the penalty box and senior midfielder Jeb Brovsky converted the penalty kick.

“I thought we could have had several penalties. There seemed to be a couple handballs that weren’t called, a few tackles,” Clark said. “Anyways, we got one more goal than them and that’s what’s important. Considering the conditions, it was a really well played game.”

Just before the half, the Panthers equalized when a booming shot caromed off a Notre Dame defender and found the back of the net on what was scored an own goal. Both teams missed a number of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal in the second half. The Irish outshot the Panthers 27 to 11 on the night, with their 27th and final shot coming on King’s game winner. Clark said he is pleased with the exciting game’s result, as well as where it leaves the Irish heading into the final regular season contest.

“It was a funny game, because I think we clearly dominated the game. It was a very windy and difficult night and I thought we put on a great performance tonight,” Clark said. “This is when you have to stick runs together. We’ve got ourselves in a great position. We’ve got a great RPI for the NCAA’s and we’ve got ourselves in great position for the Big East.”

The Irish will wrap up the regular season Saturday against Georgetown.