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Irish take win, tie in tournament

Kate Gales | Monday, September 13, 2004

On a sun-baked field on the edge of campus, as students shook off the cobwebs from the inaugural football weekend, the Irish were locked in a fierce battle to find the back of a 23-foot net.

After scoring two goals in the final 2 minutes, 2 seconds of regulation Friday evening against Evansville, the Irish were unable to find the back of the net in 110 minutes of play against Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.

“At the end of the day, there were more positives than negatives,” coach Bobby Clark said after Sunday’s game. “We don’t have a lot of time to think about it – we play Indiana on Wednesday, that’s the focus.”

The Irish dominated both games offensively, totaling 65 shots on goal in the two games. However, the Irish proved nervous in front of the net, sending shots high over the goal or wide past the post. In Friday’s contest, the Irish did not mark up a goal until defender Christopher High with 2:02 remaining and Justin McGeeney followed it with the game-winner. On Sunday, Fullerton goalkeeper Sam Reynolds recorded only five saves on 27 shots by the Irish.

“We underperformed from that point of view, but it’s not easy,” Clark said. “They’re not a bad side, we got lulled a little bit, we had a very easy game on Friday – we just had problems finding the net.”

The brick house that is the Notre Dame defense showed only harmless cracks this weekend, with one goal in Friday’s game from Ian McAuley. Both Evansville and Fullerton were unable to build a lead, with Chris Sawyer notching five saves in the pair of games.

“One of the real positives [about the tie] is that it feels like a loss, and that’s maybe a mark of where the program has come,” Clark said. “We take a tie here, and we feel that it’s a loss. They’re going home very happy, they’re feeling as if it’s a victory, and they’re feeling as if it’s a loss.”

Midfielders Nate Norman and Greg Dalby and defender Jack Stewart were named to the all-Tournament Team. This is Stewart’s second all-Tournament team in as many weekends.

“I thought Nate Norman was terrific – very exciting,” Clark said of the sophomore standout. “Every time he got the ball he was ready to make something happen. That was really nice to see, I was thrilled for him – he’s going to be key for the season.”

The season is starting off in the right direction, improving to 3-0-1 – Clark’s best start in his tenure with the Irish. After the game, Clark focused on the positives that the team had achieved.

“I love the way our team was really pushing to win right up to the end of the game – we were the team who was trying to win the game, whereas I felt that they were very happy with taking half a loaf home,” he said. “We wanted a full loaf and we chased and we chased – our fitness was good, and these are all positives.”

The Irish will chase the full loaf on Wednesday in Bloomington against No. 1 Indiana University.

“We need to just relax in front of the goal – just relax and put some goals on the score sheet,” said Clark.