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Home sweet home

Matt Puglisi | Friday, September 10, 2004

Notre Dame (2-0-0) hopes to build on a runner-up finish at last weekend’s adidas/IU Credit Union Classic when it welcomes Evansville (1-0-1), Cal State Fullerton (0-2-0) and No. 1 Indiana (2-0-0) to Alumni Field to take part in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament this weekend.The No. 11 Irish square off against Evansville Friday at 7:30 p.m. before challenging Cal State Fullerton Sunday at 1:30 p.m.The Purple Aces enter Friday’s contest on the heels of a tournament victory at the Big Toe Invitational in Madison, Wis., last weekend.”[Evansville] beat Wisconsin 2-1 in Madison … that’s a pretty good result,” coach Bobby Clark said. “They’re going to be a handful, we know that, and we’ve just got to find a way to beat them.”Cal State Fullerton, on the other hand, struggled in its season opening tournament, dropping a pair of 2-1 matches to California-Riverside and Oakland.While catering to an opponent’s weakness is a frequently-employed strategy, Clark is more concerned with the Irish than the team standing on the opposite sideline.”My big thing is that I focus on us,” Clark said. “I’m a great believer in this – it’s always going to be what we do.”The Irish kicked off the 2004 campaign with victories against Oregon State and Boston University at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic last Friday and Sunday, respectively.After overcoming a quick 1-0 deficit for a 2-1 triumph over the Beavers, the Irish shutout the Terriers, 2-0, en route to Notre Dame’s best start (2-0-0) in Clark’s four years at the helm of men’s soccer.The Irish haven’t started a season 3-0 since 1998 and 4-0 since 1987.Oregon State didn’t wait long to christen the scoreboard, finding the back of the net on a header 4:09 into the match.”From our point of view, it was a very bad goal to lose, people not focusing on their jobs,” Clark said. “It took us about 20 minutes before we calmed down. I thought we were pretty ragged, and we struggled for that opening period.”However, the Irish eventually gained control of the game, and defender Jack Stewart delivered the equalizer at the 36:11 mark, uncorking a rocket past OSU goalkeeper Jason Mariner to knot the game at 1-1.The Irish struck again right after halftime as forward Justin McGeeney headed home a cross from forward Nate Norman to stake the Irish to a 2-1 advantage and ultimately provide the game winner.Playing without the first-game jitters that plagued in the Irish in the first half of last Friday’s contest, Notre Dame broke a scoreless tie 33 minutes into the first half Sunday against Boston University and never looked back.Once again, it was the All-American candidate Stewart who led the Irish charge, scoring his second goal in as many games.Norman followed suit 15 minutes into the second half, lining a shot into the net from the top of the box for a 2-0 lead.Standout goalkeeper Chris Sawyer recorded his first clean sheet of the season, stopping three shots in the shutout.Sawyer, Stewart and McGeeney took home All-Tournament Team honors, though the Irish were edged by consensus No. 1 Indiana, 6-4, in total goals scored for the tournament title after both teams went undefeated (2-0) and aggregate goals were used as a tiebreaker.”It was a solid performance,” Clark said. “I thought we grew from the first performance to the second, which was positive.”Following this weekend’s action, the Irish travel to Bloomington Wednesday for a much-anticipated bout with in-state rival and soccer heavyweight Indiana.