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Men’s Soccer: Irish begin Big East play at home

Eric Retter | Friday, September 8, 2006

No. 8 Notre Dame opens its Big East conference schedule this weekend, taking on South Florida tonight before squaring off with DePaul Sunday.

The Irish went 1-0-1 at the Indiana/Adidas Classic last week, including a 5-4 win over No. 10 Indiana Sunday, to improve their record to 2-1-1. Junior forward Joe Lapira had four goals in the game and was named tournament MVP, Big East Offensive Player of the Week and Top Drawer National Player of the Week.

The Bulls (2-2-0) split their games last weekend at the Duke/Adidas classic, topping North Carolina State 2-0 before falling to the No. 9 Blue Devils 1-0.

“South Florida has played some good teams,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said.

The Bulls will be led by senior forward Hunter West, who has two goals this season and 30 for his career.

The Irish will be led by senior captain and All-American Greg Dalby, one of 25 listed as players to watch for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, which is presented annually to the top college soccer player.

The Irish attack and the South Florida defense match up well against each other. Lapira and senior forward Justin McGeeney have both been named Big East Offensive Players of the Week, while South Florida defenseman Kareem Smith was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week last week and has played a big role in South Florida’s two shutout victories.

On Sunday, Notre Dame will face off against DePaul (1-2-2), and Blue Demon sophomore goalkeeper Brian Visser already has two shutouts to his credit this season, both of them coming in scoreless ties.

Senior Chris Cahill and sophomore Andrew Quinn have been splitting time in goal for the Irish and Clark said he has not ruled out the possibility of platooning his keepers again this weekend.

“We’ll possibly split goalies again this weekend,” he said.

One of Notre Dame’s primary objectives will be to change the trend of Friday night offensive droughts.

“I’d like to get some more consistency,” Clark said. “We haven’t scored goals on the Friday night; hopefully the first game of the weekend, we can get some offensive output, and hopefully we can follow it up.”

However, Clark doesn’t believe his offense, which has totaled four and five goals in their respective Sunday afternoon contests, has a serious problem.

“I think the big thing is just to come out and play, I think we’ve actually played quite well in both the [Friday] games,” he said. “Now we’ve just got to relax and finish the job off. It is very much a case of relaxing when we get into scoring positions.”

Notre Dame will face South Florida tonight at 7:30 and will play DePaul Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Both games will take place at Alumni Field.