Men’s Soccer: Forwards lead ND past Mexico in second half
Isaac Lorton | Monday, April 29, 2013
Alumni Stadium was a sea of green, but not for the usual reasons as the Irish beat the U-20 Mexican National Team, 3-2, in front of a sellout crowd.
While most of the green-clad supporters were actually supporting Mexico, Irish coach Bobby Clark said the friendly match win over a team like Mexico in a buzzing atmosphere will prepare the Irish for any game and environment next season.
“I thought it was a really good team performance against a very good opponent,” Clark said. “It’s a friendly game, but to go into a game in an environment like this, it was fantastic. And can the team handle themselves in this environment? It was important because these games prepare you for any team we will play this year. That’s the toughest opponent we will face.”
The Irish struck first in the 19th minute. A through ball was played from the back to senior forward Alex Priede, who ripped a shot on goal. Goalkeeper Richard Sanchez dove to his right and punched the ball away, but sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan followed up on the rebound and finished the play for the 1-0 Irish lead.
Mexico was quick to respond, knotting the game at one-all in the 22nd minute. The ball was played down the right side of the pitch to Mexico midfielder Uvaldo Luna, who hit a low cross into the box. The ball pin-balled around in the box before Mexico forward Marco Bueno finally knocked in a shot over senior keeper Patrick Wall.
Both sides had opportunities to take the lead in the remainder of the half, but none of the chances amounted to anything but loud groans or cheers from the crowd. Irish senior forward Harrison Shipp carried the ball down the pitch on a counter and passed off to Hodan, who slotted it low past Sanchez, but Mexico defender Hedgardo Marin came from behind to clear the would-be goal away. Mexico had a chance of its own in extra time of the first half when a cross was served into the box and Luna found himself wide open on the right side of the six-yard box. He headed the ball to the left side of the net, but Wall came across the box and made a sprawling save to keep the game even going into half.
In the 60th minute, junior defender Max Lachowecki got a throw-in on the left side of the field, just inside the offensive half. Lachowecki launched the ball to a streaking Shipp; the ball bounced twice and on the peak of the second bounce Shipp hit a laser volley from 25 yards out and buried it in the right side of the goal to put the Irish up 2-1.
“We spent a fair bit of time without the ball because [Mexico] possess[es] the ball well, but our transition was superb,” Clark said. “We defended well as a unit and transitioned superbly. Harry Shipp was fantastic tonight.”
Irish junior forward Vince Cicciarelli added an insurance goal in the 73rd minute. The ball was cleared from the back of the Irish defense into no-mans land, starting a footrace to the ball. Cicciarelli beat out the third Mexican defender, took the ball across the box to avoid the second defender, and hit a low shot into the left side of the net for the 3-1 Irish lead. Cicciarelli was out all of the fall season due to a torn ACL, but Clark was pleased to see him making a difference on the pitch.
“It was good to get him back and get him playing,” Clark said. “That was special.”
The insurance goal proved useful later on, as Mexico made a late surge in the three minutes of extra-time and Bueno scored his second goal of the night. Shortly after, the referee blew his whistle, as the Irish held off Mexico for a 3-2 victory.
Contact Isaac Lorton at email@example.com