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Men’s Soccer: Slow start prevents Irish victory in Chicago

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The No. 9 Irish came up with too little, too late on offense, as No. 24 Northwestern held onto its two-goal lead from the first half to upset the Irish 2-1.

Notre Dame (10-3-0, 2-2 Big East) controlled the most of the game, Irish coach Bobby Clark said, but the Wildcats (8-2-2, 2-0 Big Ten) took advantage of their scoring opportunities in the first half and scored in quick succession in the 14th and 19th minutes.

“The first 20 minutes we struggled,” Clark said. “It took awhile for us to adjust and adapt. It was funny, [the goals] just seemed to suddenly happen. [Northwestern] got behind us, got into the middle and got shots on the goal. Both of the goals were from seven to nine yards out.”

Clark said he does not know why the Irish came off the blocks slow.

“[The slow start] was not tactical and it was not personnel,” Clark said. “I don’t know why we didn’t start well. It was really windy and it’s a FieldTurf field, and we didn’t get settled in.”

Northwestern’s first goal came off of a through ball in the box from Wildcat senior midfielder Chris Ritter to freshman forward Joey Calistri, who one-timed the ball past Irish junior goalkeeper Patrick Wall. Wall amassed two saves in the game, while Northwestern sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Miller had six.

Within five minutes the Wildcats struck again. Calistri this time provided the assist with a cross from the left side of the pitch to junior midfielder Lepe Seetane, who nailed it home in the upper-left corner.

Overall, the Irish more than doubled the shot production of Northwestern 21-9, but were unable to connect.

“[Northwestern] came out aggressively and we dug ourselves a big hole,” Clark said. “Then we got a grip on the game and tried to pull ourselves out. We dominated the second half.”

In the second half Notre Dame led the shots 15-2.

“I was happy with how we responded,” Clark said. “We took it to them. It was a very strong second half performance, but unfortunately we had gotten too far behind in the first twenty minutes.”

In a final effort in the last ten minutes, freshman forward Patrick Hodan earned his third goal of the season in the 85th minute. Hodan took a shot from the top of the box and put the ball away following up on his own shot.

“I was pleased with how we responded to being down early on,” Clark said. “We made a valiant effort to pull ourselves out of the hole. We have to take the good with the bad and move on.”

This loss brings the Irish away record to 2-3. Clark said he does not believe the record is an issue.

“It is more difficult on the road for every team,” Clark said. “I do not see this as a problem for us.”

The Irish look to bounce back as they travel to South Orange, N. J., on Saturday to take on Seton Hall in a Big East matchup.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu