Men’s Soccer: Troubles continue in Big East play
Joseph Monardo | Monday, October 1, 2012
In the finale of a four-game road swing that pitted Notre Dame against four tough opponents, the Irish fell to No. 2 Connecticut, 2-1, in their second matchup against a top-10 team in four days. Two early goals proved too costly to overcome as the Irish (8-2-0, 0-2-0 Big East) remained winless in the Big East after two games.
The Huskies (9-0-1, 2-0-0) began the scoring with a penalty kick from senior forward Carlos Alvarez in the 29th minute. The kick was awarded after Irish senior goalkeeper Will Walsh tripped Connecticut sophomore forward Allando Matheson in the box while Matheson was moving away from the goal.
“The first goal, they got behind us in transition and then Will Walsh came out,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I thought it was a little bit of a soft penalty … I think there was very little contact. But I think he went down, and the referee, with 5,000-plus Huskies fans screaming, it was easy to give him that call.”
Connecticut added its second goal in the 36th minute when senior defender Flo Liu sent a shot off the crossbar and into the goal. The Huskies maintained their 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
“It was a kind of 10-minute spell, inside of that we lost both goals,” Clark said. “Both were transition goals, you know, we turned the ball over and they counter-attacked on us. Maybe we could have done better at it, but they are a very good transition team. Their front players are very talented … and they got the ball and transitioned well.”
The Irish jumped out to a quick start in the second half, as senior midfielder captain Dillon Powers sent a ball from junior defender Luke Mishu into the net for a goal in the 49th minute. The goal was especially important for the Irish team that had left scoring chances on the field during the opening stanza, Clark said.
“I thought the team played very well in the first half other than that little period … We really should have put in goals in the first half,” Clark said. “The second half, I thought we opened well. Getting the goal four minutes in was excellent. It was a very good goal, a good entry pass from Luke Mishu to Dillon Powers, and then Dillon … just cut back on his defender and then just calmly put it in the corner. A very, very good goal.”
Powers’ goal brought an end to the Huskies’ shutout streak, one that had spanned 437:58 and began five games prior to Saturday’s outing. Connecticut sophomore goalie Andre Blake recorded six saves in the contest after entering the game with a save percentage of .905, third-best in the nation. Notre Dame’s score was only the third goal allowed by the Huskies all season.
The Irish came out on the better end of most statistical matchups in the game, outshooting the home team 11-9. Powers led the Irish in shots, putting all four of his attempts on frame. Notre Dame also held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks taken and committed eight fouls to Connecticut’s 10.
The matchup with Connecticut concludes a recent stretch of road games for Notre Dame. After winning at Michigan and losing at Louisville, the Irish beat No. 10 Indiana 1-0, on Wednesday.
“This is certainly the toughest stretch of the schedule. You’ve got four tough away games,” Clark said. “There are no easy games on our schedule, so I can’t say anything was going to be easy, but these are four particularly hard games … It was a big task, but I thought this team was capable of beating them. So it was a tough spell. We went 2-2 in the four games. I think I’m not happy with that, because I think we were better than that in all four games. But it is where we stand, and now the remaining league games become critical for us now.”
Having completed their most recent road swing, the Irish will return home for a pair of Big East contests this week. Still in search of its first conference victory, Notre Dame welcomes Pittsburgh into Alumni Stadium on Wednesday before hosting Georgetown on Saturday.
“We’ve got to start picking up points, and Wednesday night becomes a huge game for us against Pittsburgh,” Clark said.
The Irish and Panthers kick off from Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Contact Joseph Monardo at [email protected]