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Men’s Soccer: Irish bedevil Duke in opener

Isaac Lorton | Monday, August 27, 2012

After the No. 18 Irish failed to capitalize on several prime scoring opportunities, senior forward Ryan Finley put the game-winning goal away in the 76th minute, and Notre Dame held on to clinch a 1-0 win over No. 21 Duke. The goal came off a pass across the box from junior forward Harry Shipp, who elected to pass the ball rather than take a shot. Finley, who transferred from Duke in 2011, scored his first goal of the season against his former team. 

“Words can’t describe what that goal meant to me,” Finley said. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates. It was just a real emotional goal.”

Although a low-scoring game, statistically the game was one-sided in favor of Notre Dame (1-0-0). The Irish took 18 shots – eight of those on goal – while the Blue Devils (0-1-0) took four, only one on goal. Notre Dame had 11 corner kicks, while Duke had one. Duke senior goalkeeper James Belshaw finished with seven saves.

“It was a pretty clear whitewash as far as a game goes,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I think we dominated. It’s just goals are hard to get, and their goalkeeper was excellent. Belshaw in their goal was superb.”

Clark said he was happy how the team closed out Saturday’s contest, unlike many games last season. 

 “We played several games like the opener last year,” Clark said . “We should have beaten Indiana, where we dominated and outshot them. We did the same to UConn and it ended [in a 0-0 tie.] So we will take the 1-0 [win] and go home. I was happy for Ryan Finley to get revenge. I think he was really excited about that.”

The Irish midfield saw a lot of help from seniors Bob Novak and Kyle Richard, especially after senior Adam Mena went down in the 38th minute and did not return to the game. 

“It was a team win,” Clark said. “A lot of people had to come on and play. Bobby Novak had to come in at midfield and hold the middle for us there at the end. Kyle Richard also did, really. A lot of kids came and played big parts tonight.”

The defense was the big question mark for Notre Dame coming into this season, as the Irish graduated three starters, but the four defenders under the senior leadership of Grant Van De Casteele were solid. Senior goalkeeper Will Walsh only had to make one save against the Blue Devils.  

“Considering we graduated three [defenders] last year, I was very, very happy with the back four,” Clark said. 

The Irish look to use the momentum from this win when they take on San Diego State and Clemson this weekend in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu