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Men’s Soccer: Final exhibition ends in tie

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In front of a packed house at Alumni Stadium, Notre Dame’s final exhibition game of the season against Creighton ended in a 2-2 tie. Though the result of the game will not follow either team into its official season, the contest contained all the competition and drama normally reserved for regular season games.

“Although it doesn’t really matter, it always matters,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

Competitive play from both teams resulted in a combined three yellow cards, including two in the opening 30 minutes of the game, showing the fans that even though this game only qualifies as an exhibition game, both teams showed up with winning on the agenda.

No. 6 Creighton netted the game’s first goal in the 33rd minute off of a penalty kick from a sliding challenge by Irish senior goalkeeper Will Walsh on the edge of the goal box. Eleven minutes later, Irish sophomore midfielder Harrison Shipp drew a penalty kick of his own when he was taken down at the top of the Blue Jays’ box. Senior midfielder Brendan King rolled in the free kick for the Irish to even the score at 1-1.

The teams remained knotted at one deep into the second half, but the No. 9 Irish struggled to maintain possession and generate scoring opportunities.

“I was happy with the way we played for most of the first half, but the second half I felt that they stepped up the pressure and we struggled a little bit just to connect passes,” Clark said.

The Irish also struggled in the shooting aspect of the game. They trailed Creighton in shots taken 6-2 at the half, and 11-5 for the game.

“It’s still preseason,” senior defender Aaron Maund said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out, things will open up. [Creighton] is a great defensive team, they had good pressure. We’re going to figure it out.”

Despite their inability to put the ball on frame, the Irish were able to remain even with the Blue Jays until the 75th minute when Creighton scored their second goal of the night. In the 84th minute, senior midfielder Adam Mena, desperate for an equalizer, responded and slipped a ball through traffic to Maund into the Creighton goal box. Maund turned and blasted the game’s final goal.

Notre Dame concluded the exhibition portion of its schedule with a record of 0-1-2 and gained learning opportunities for the regular season.

“It’s good to test yourself there,” Clark said. “I think we’ve come in very fit, but at the same time, you need games. You can do all the running on the track but until you play actual games, it’s very difficult to get actual game fitness.”

The proceeds from Monday’s game were donated to Grassroots Soccer, an organization started by Clark’s son, Thomas, as a project in medical school.

“[Thomas] wanted to do use soccer to educate young Africans about HIV.”

The promotion managed to bring enough fans into the stands to catch the eye of Clark, who hopes that all the Irish home games will be as well-attended as the first.

“I hope the fans enjoyed it, they got to see four goals, so that’s always nice,” he said.

Next, the Irish welcome No. 12 Indiana for their first game of the season. Kickoff against the Hoosiers is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.