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Men’s Soccer: Besler ends scoreless streak, sparks victory

Eric Retter | Monday, September 25, 2006

Sophomore defender Matt Besler picked a great time to score the first goal of his college career.

Besler’s 21st minute chip-shot gave No. 21 Notre Dame (5-32, 3-2-0 Big East) an early lead Saturday, breaking a 218-minute scoreless stretch over the team’s previous two games. It also helped the Irish break their two-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

Irish coach Bobby Clark was pleased with his sophomore’s efforts.

“It’s not very often you see a central defender work up into the attack like that,” Clark. “It was an excellent goal.”

Besler’s goal would prove to be Notre Dame’s only score of the first half, despite 11 shots on goal. Senior midfielder Ian Etherington twice sent crosses into the box that were headed just wide of the goal. For the game, the Irish outshot the Panthers 24-9.

“We should have scored a lot more goals, to be quite honest,” Clark said. “The first 50 minutes, the team played superbly well … we should have been three goals up at that point. We created enough chances to be three goals up [but] we kind of squandered them, though we did get the one goal.”

In the 48th minute, Pittsburgh forward Keeyan Young scored the equalizer in a very unorthodox turn of events. Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill appeared to have gathered a loose ball, but when the wet ball squirted out of his hands, Young won a footrace to it and put it in from 14 yards out.

Clark was not too critical of his team in describing the play.

“It was comical, the goal we gave up,” he said. “These things happen, especially in a very wet windy night [as was the case Saturday]. It seemed very cruel fate after having dominated the game to the extent we did, to lose a goal [like] nothing. It was tough, and obviously it gave them a life line and made it quite exciting for a little while.”

Irish forward Joseph Lapira soon quieted the possibility of any Panther momentum, redirecting a Nate Norman cross into the back of the net in the 56th minute to put the Irish back on top for good.

“It wasn’t like we needed to respond,” Clark said. “We were always very much in control of the game, but you never know, they might just sneak another goal, so we were very happy with Joe [Lapira’s goal].”

Fifteen minutes later, Lapira put the game out of reach, sending a bullet from the top of the box past Pittsburgh goalkeeper Andy Jorgensen. The goal marked Lapira’s ninth of the season – a team high – and his third multiscore game of the year.

“It’s been very solid, solid play out of him,” Clark said.

Other than Young’s goal early in the second period, Cahill was largely untroubled in the net.

“In all honesty Chris [Cahill] was a spectator for most of the game tonight,” Clark said. “He had one very good save right after the goal which was key … he wasn’t overworked this evening.”

Immediately after the game, Clark was already looking ahead to Notre Dame’s next matchup.

“Hopefully we were saving some of the goals for Wednesday [against Marquette],” he said. “I hope that was the idea.”