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Mens Soccer: A little something extra

Justin Schuver | Monday, September 15, 2003

Fans at the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament this weekend got a lot more than they paid for. Three of the tournament’s four games went to overtime, including both of the contests in which the Irish participated.

No. 16 Notre Dame defeated Fresno State Friday night in overtime 2-1, and tied Akron 0-0 Sunday afternoon. The Irish currently have a record of 2-1-2 for the season.

Friday night, the Irish got on the board first with an impressive display of teamwork. In the 27th minute, forward Justin Detter tapped the ball to midfielder Greg Martin at the top of the box, who then returned a feed to Detter.

Detter then hit forward Devon Prescod with a short cross, allowing Prescod to shoot the ball in past Bulldog goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.

The Irish took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but the Bulldogs were able to score the equalizer off a corner kick just 14 minutes into the second half.

Dan Oka took the kick and sent a sailing ball into the center of the Irish defense. Jeremiah Leroy managed to time his leap just right to bounce a header past Irish goalkeeper Chris Sawyer. It was the first goal of the season for Fresno State.

Notre Dame had most of the remaining good scoring chances in the half, with Detter getting off several good looks, including one which was sent just right of the goal post after a pretty pass from Prescod.

It was fitting then that Detter would get the golden goal. With less than a minute left in the first overtime, the Irish drew a foul and took a free kick from the deep left wing. Midfielder Chad Riley sliced a perfect kick into the Bulldog defense and Detter headed the ball past Kronberg to give the Irish the 2-1 victory.

“I just told Chad to play it near post,” Detter said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better ball. It was really the ball that made the goal.”

Detter became the first Irish player other than Prescod to score a goal this season. Prescod, Detter’s partner at the forward position, had scored the first three goals of the year for Notre Dame to that point, including the first goal against the Bulldogs.

“In the offseason Coach Clark started working [Devon and I] together,” Detter said. “We started clicking right away. We’re both seniors who have been playing for four years now, and we just work really well together.”

“They’re a good combination,” Clark agreed. “I think they’re getting better with each game.”

Sunday afternoon, the Irish went up against an Akron team that had upset No. 14 Indiana 1-0 in overtime Friday night. Although unranked, the Zips certainly made a case for themselves, coming away with a 0-0 tie in windy and rainy weather.

It was the Zips who led 7-2 in shots on goal after the first half, and were it not for a brilliant save by Sawyer, the Irish might have had been down going into halftime.

In the 29th minute, Akron’s Kirk Harwat sent a cross to Hans Haugland, who got off a shot from the top of the box. Haugland aimed for the upper right corner of the net, but Sawyer was able to get across his line and punch the ball over the bar.

“It was really the only real save that Chris had, but it was a brilliant save,” Clark said. “That what one of the best saves I’ve seen this season.”

Sawyer finished the game with two saves, while his Akron counterpart Justin Christafaris saved seven Irish shots.

The Irish appeared to get on the board in the 12th minute of the first half, after Martin deflected a free kick from Riley past Christafaris. The referee judged that Martin had played the ball intentionally with his hand, and the goal was disallowed.

Martin received his first yellow card of the season for the intentional handball.

Notre Dame came out with a vengeance in the second half, outshooting the Zips 14-2, but unable to get anything past the Akron keeper.

The Irish had several good scoring chances in the remainder of the half, including a shot from the top of the box by Riley that Christafaris was just able to save as he dove to the left.

Neither team got many good looks in the two overtime periods, perhaps stymied by a rainstorm which seemed to pick up just after the end of regulation.

Once again, Detter helped lead the Irish offensive attack, finishing the game with nine shots, four of which made it on goal.

“It was a tough game,” Clark said. “But we knew it was going to be a tough game. [Akron] is very well organized, well coached, and has good players.

“They were very well-disciplined, so you have to give that to them.”

Notre Dame faces in-state rival Indiana Thursday night at Alumni Field. The Hoosiers knocked the Irish out of the NCAA tournament last year and have been a perennial powerhouse over the last few decades.

“Hopefully we’re saving some goals for Indiana,” Clark quipped after the tie game.