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Men’s Soccer: Nobody’s perfect

Isaac Lorton | Monday, September 24, 2012

Until Saturday, the No. 2 Irish had only known perfection, but after a trip to Louisville for the squad’s Big East opener, the Irish now know defeat, losing to the Cardinals 2-1.

“Any loss is tough,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “But this being the first loss of the year, especially after a good run, it is difficult. However, winning and losing are a part of the game, so we bounce back and move on.”

Louisville (5-3-0, 1-0) jumped out to an early lead as redshirt sophomore Dylan Mares netted a header coming off a crossing pass in the 33rd minute. Mares’ goal ended the 268:06 scoreless streak the Irish (7-1-0, 0-1) had amassed.

Penalty kicks were a key element in Saturday’s game, as the game-tying and game-winning goals came off of fouls in the box.

In the 62nd minute, senior forward Ryan Finley put the penalty kick away and brought the Irish even with the Cardinals. The goal brought Finley to a team-leading six goals on the season.

At that point, the momentum seemed to swing in Notre Dame’s favor, Clark said.

“I thought it was ours after the [penalty kick,]” Clark said. “We were very good for long periods of the second half, but [the Cardinals] closed well, very professionally.”

But the momentum did not last long. In the 76th minute, sophomore Irish midfielder Brendan Lesch committed a foul on junior midfielder Andrew Farrell in the box. A penalty kick was awarded and Farrell put the game-winner away.

“I thought [the penalty] was a little softer but having given the other penalty already, there was no question,” Clark said. “[Lesch] got an arm on him and [Farrell] went down. It was going to get called.”

An injury to the solid back four also may have contributed to the Irish loss, Clark said. Irish junior defender Andrew O’Malley went out in the 63rd minute and was replaced by Lesch. Moving forward, Clark said he wants the Irish to continue working on making adjustments and overcoming injuries

“Andrew O’Malley picked up an injury in the second half and we have to react to that,” Clark said. “This is the first time this season we’ve changed something in the back four. We have to learn to make adjustments when this happens.”