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Men’s Soccer

Irish battle weather, Big Green to earn tourney win

| Sunday, September 7, 2014

It took a few hours longer than anticipated for No. 2 Notre Dame to begin the defense of its Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament title. The originally scheduled Friday night game against Dartmouth was pushed back to Saturday afternoon due to bad weather, but as thousands of football fans walked past Alumni Stadium, the host squad rolled past the Big Green (0-1-0) by a score of 4-1.

Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli works to control the ball during Notre Dame’s 5-1 exhibition win against Wisconsin on August 25.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli works to control the ball during Notre Dame’s 5-1 exhibition win against Wisconsin on Aug. 25.

“All day we all had our minds set on the game, and then to see that storm and get it cancelled and not know what to do kind of ruined our night,” Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli said. “But to bounce back the way we did today and be able to put something together and put in a ‘W’ felt good.”

The Irish (2-0-1) had the early push to start the game, as senior midfielder Nick Besler sent a header inches over the crossbar only minutes in. Notre Dame would find the back of the net in the 15th minute as graduate student forward Leon Brown took a pass from Besler at the top of the penalty box and drilled it past Dartmouth junior goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. The tally was Brown’s second in only the third regular season game for the Irish.

“It’s great to get the goal, it’s a terrific goal,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “But from that moment on I felt that [Dartmouth] started to come into the game.”

Soon after, Big Green senior defender Hugh Danilack fired a response shot from 20 yards out as the crowd was resettling into their seats, but Irish graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall found the shot through the mass of legs and bodies in front of him and smothered it. Wall would finish with two saves for the game.

Notre Dame would add to their lead in the 42nd minute as junior midfielder Evan Panken and freshman forward Jeffrey Farina worked a give-and-go deep into the Dartmouth penalty box before Panken buried his first score of the season.

Again Dartmouth would attempt a quick answer. After Wall knocked away a pass, Big Green freshman midfielder Giorgio Gorini would head a cross off the far post. The ball redirected off the frame right along the goal line before being cleared by sophomore defenseman Brandon Aubrey, keeping the Irish lead at 2-0 going into halftime.

The Big Green would finally break through in the 54th minute when Gorini slammed home a loose ball from only a couple yards out.

“They got the goal back and you say, ‘This is a game,’” Clark said.

The Irish would regain the two-goal advantage only five minutes later when Panken sent a through-ball forward to Cicciarelli, who muscled past the defender marking him to gain control of the ball and bury it low near-post.

“Early in the game we had almost the exact same run-in and [Panken] just hit it a little too hard past me,” Cicciarelli said. “When he saw me making that run again he played me a perfect ball. The defender had no idea I was coming, so I just used my big body and moved him out of the way.

“To come back and put one in pretty quickly definitely took away their momentum and that’s how we’ve got to respond every time.”

“It was good that both starting strikers, both seniors [Brown and Cicciarelli] got goals,” Clark said. “I think that was terrific. … As a striker it’s always good to get the first goal of the season.”

Notre Dame would add to its lead with an own goal by Dartmouth on a cross by junior midfielder Connor Klekota that deflected off a defender and into the net.

Although the score ended up lopsided, the Irish felt they played a poor game overall and were disappointed in their performance.

“We definitely didn’t play our best,” Cicciarelli said. “But we just need to gut out games and show some grit and show people we’re going to battle to win no matter what and I think we did a great job of that at least.”

“It was a very good result, but I never felt comfortable in the whole game,” Clark said. “To be truthful, I was a bit disappointed with the way the team played … but when you don’t play as well as you’d like you have to give some credit to your opponent. This was always going to be a difficult game for us because [Dartmouth coach and former Notre Dame assistant Chad Riley] knows exactly what we do.

Irish junior  midfielder Evan Panken (15) battles a Wisconsin defender for possession while fellow junior midfielder Connor Klekota trails in support during Notre Dame’s 5-1 win over Wisconsin on Aug. 25.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish junior midfielder Evan Panken, right, battles a Wisconsin defender for possession while fellow junior midfielder Connor Klekota trails in support during Notre Dame’s 5-1 win over Wisconsin on Aug. 25.

“The grass was a little long, as this game hadn’t been anticipated to be played [today], so maybe that maybe slowed our passes down, but it’s the same for both teams.”

Due to the weather Friday, the final day of the tournament was pushed back from Sunday to Monday, when Notre Dame will look to clinch at least a share of its second consecutive Berticelli Memorial championship, meeting Kentucky on the Alumni Stadium pitch at 6 p.m.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A senior History major, Zach resides in Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he has covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus.

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