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Men’s Soccer: Offense sputters in shutout loss

Molly Sammon | Sunday, October 30, 2011

With five shots on goal to the Mountaineers’ two and facing a strong opposing goalie, the Irish suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss against West Virginia at Alumni Stadium on Saturday.

Inclement weather delayed the game for 90 minutes shortly following the team’s on-field presentations just before the initially-scheduled noon kickoff.

“It was a strange game in many ways,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

The No. 14 Irish (8-4-4, 4-3-1) had two close attempts to score in the fifth and 11th minutes from senior midfielder Chris Sutton and senior defender Aaron Maund, but the first shot was deflected off the crossbar, and the second was saved by West Virginia junior goalie Pat Eavenson.

“We opened up the game great,” Clark said. “We were moving the ball and connecting passes in a nice way. It looked good. I don’t know, we lost our way a little bit after that.”

The No. 25 Mountaineers (10-6-1, 6-3-0) concluded their in-conference portion of the season with Saturday’s shutout over the Irish. West Virginia produced its first goal in the 24th minute off a short shot that escaped through Irish senior goalkeeper Will Walsh’s reach. The Moutaineers led 1-0 at halftime.

In both the 49th and 54th minutes, Irish junior forward Ryan Finley had two successive shots on goal, but both were effectively stopped by Eavenson.

“We didn’t threaten [Eavenson] as much as we would have liked,” Clark said.

The Mountaineers upped their advantage to a two-goal margin in the 71st minute, as junior defender Grant Van De Casteele deflected a Mountaineer shot in for an own goal.

“Their second goal was a shot really going nowhere, but Grant deflected it from the opposite corner from where it was going,” Clark said.

In the 87th minute, Maund sent the last shot on goal over to Eavenson, who produced his fifth save of the day. 

Clark said the Irish showed the same effort they always have throughout the season, but it was a misguided effort that resulted in the loss.

“Goals affect games, and some days you just have to keep playing. People have to stop trying to solve the problems individually, instead of relying on teamwork,” Clark said. “It was a little bit of a team malaise. You’ve obviously got to hurry, but you’ve got to do it slowly, you’ve got to stay together as a team. I think.”

The Irish have one game left in their regular season, an in-conference home contest against Seton Hall at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame will kick off against the Pirates at noon Tuesday.

Contact Molly Sammon at msammon@nd.edu