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Men’s Soccer: Irish rely on forwards to carry team

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, September 5, 2012

 

In only three games, senior striker Ryan Finley has racked up three goals, two of them coming late in the game against San Diego State at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. These two clutch goals in the 61st and 82nd minutes captured the 3-2 win for the No. 15 Irish (3-0-0). Finley’s first goal was a game-winner against his old team Duke.  

“The first goal, Harry [Shipp] gave me a great ball and I was able to get around the goalie and for the second goal, Harry got the ball to me and I was able to put it in,” Finley said. “I was excited about the Duke goal, but once the game was over, we go to the next game. It was nice though, to get a goal in the first game, puts a striker’s mind at ease.”   

Last season, the Irish had trouble with scoring production and would often tie or lose close games. Finley in the first three games has been the offensive prowess Notre Dame was missing last year. 

Finley, however, sees his increased production as a direct result of all-around team improvement and chemistry rather than changes made in his own game.

“As a team we are finishing better,” Finley said. “The team is focused on a win and it doesn’t matter who gets the goal just as long as we get the win. We seem more comfortable with each other this year and that makes it easier.”

Finley has scored all three of his goals coming off the bench. Not starting does not bother Finley; he actually prefers it, he said. 

“I can see how the defenders are playing and how the game is going in the first 20 minutes,” Finley said. “When defenders are in their 70th minute, we are in our 50th and we are still fresh. As the games have shown, there is a pattern of my goals coming in the second half.”  

The senior forward said he believes that a large part of his success comes from the backfield. There were concerns about the Irish defense when the season began but Finley said they have been solid.

“A major part of the team’s success so far is the defense,” Finley said. “When the defense is playing well, it opens up more opportunities for the offense. It all starts in the back.” 

As the season progresses, Finley has hopes for a Big East title and competing in the NCAA tournament. An individual scoring title would just be a bonus, Finley said.

“I have never played in a tourney and that would be a goal of mine and also a team goal,” Finley said.”We would like to win the Big East and go from there. Of course a Big East scoring title would be great but I just want to help the team win any way I can. If that is scoring, laying the ball off or drawing defenders off another guy, I’ll do it.”

Finley said the team this year is capable of achieving these goals.

“We have dangerous people in our offense,” Finley said. “It can take us far.”

Finley will lead the Irish attack this weekend in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium. 

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu