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Big East teams play weekend showdowns

Kate Gales | Friday, October 8, 2004

Make it four straight shutouts for Notre Dame, four Big East wins and four goals in the past two games for forward Tony Megna. The No. 9 Irish are finding their rhythm as they slash through their October schedule, leaving a trail of defeated opponents in their wake. A rock-solid defense and lightning-quick offense sent Pittsburgh home with a 3-0 loss Thursday night and improved the team to 8-2-1 on the season.”Ever since we lost the game to West Virginia … every Big East game we’re really brought up the intensity,” Megna said. “We don’t want to lose another one of those. Overall we did pretty good-we had the chance, scored the goals [and] got the shutout.”The Irish dominated play in the first half but were unable to find the back of the net until Megna hit a shot in the 38th minute to put the team ahead 1-0 going into the half.”Justin McGeeney just turned and played a ball into me,” Megna said. “I basically turned and I sort of took a bad touch. I lost it, got back up, beat the defender there, turned towards the goal and saw that I got close and ripped a shot.”The Panthers were able to hold a sharpshooting Irish offense to Megna’s lone goal well into the second period.”I thought that the first half we actually played very well,” coach Bobby Clark said. “We actually went into a lull in the second half … in the second half I felt we didn’t get quite into that rhythm.”The battle for goals was aggressive, as referees stopped play a number of times for fouls. Although Pittsburgh gave up fouls that put the Irish in prime scoring position, they managed to stifle Notre Dame’s scoring attempts. “Set plays we’ve spent a lot of time on-we should be good at them,” Clark said. “I think for some reason tonight we didn’t quite get the service where we wanted them and I don’t know why.”It was one weak spot for an otherwise strong squad who forced goalie Chris Sawyer to make only two saves. In the season’s 11 games, one of the nation’s top defenses has given up only six goals – none in the last 363 minutes of play. The defense has also lit up the scoreboards, as Christopher High moved deep into Pittsburgh territory in the 80th minute to execute a textbook header on a Luke Boughen cross.”Just when I was starting to bite my fingernails it was great for Christopher High to score that second goal,” Clark said. “That really took the pressure off.”Megna sealed the deal three minutes later, as he picked up a cross from Joe Lampira to pad the Irish victory.”It was very nice for Tony – it’s nice that Tony’s starting to play,” Clark said.The Irish now look forward to conference rival Syracuse, who travels to Alumni Field on Sunday. The Orangemen are 2-7-0 this year and look to pick up their first conference win in their fourth Big East game. The Irish take the field again Sunday at 1 p.m.