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Men’s Soccer: Irish go 1-1 over weekend

Joe Meixell | Monday, September 11, 2006

In the span of one minute, Notre Dame squandered its best scoring chance of the evening and proceeded to watch South Florida’s Jordan Seabrook score the decisive goal in the Bull’s 2-0 win in both teams’ opening game of Big East conference play.

The action started in the 85th minute when Irish defender Jack Traynor won the ball near midfield, beat three Bull defenders and got a shot off from inside the 18-yard box. USF keeper Dane Brenner conceded a rebound, but both Joseph Lapira and Justin McGeeney were unable to capitalize on the opportunity with Brenner sending McGeeney’s effort over the goal for a corner kick.

Seconds later, the Bull’s Simon Schoendorf caught the pressing Irish off-guard with a long through ball which put Seabrook behind the defense just beyond midfield. Seabrook outran the Notre Dame defense and slotted the ball past an onrushing Andrew Quinn for what would prove to be the game-winning goal.

“We got caught forward, and we got caught napping,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “To be fair, the Seabrook lad is very fast. If you give him that amount of space, he’s going to capitalize on it.”

Three minutes later, Schoendorf would add his name to the scorer’s list when he received a ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, cut inside his defender and unleashed a blistering shot. Quinn could only get a hand on it as the ball flew into the back of the net for the final goal of the game.

Notre Dame had many chances to open the scoring early in the night, and it appeared that senior midfielder Nate Norman would give Notre Dame the lead in the 71st minute. When a Brenner clearance of an Irish cross fell right to his feet, Norman chipped a shot over an out-of-position Brenner, but the ball rebounded off the post. The Irish offense was shut out despite out-shooting South Florida 17-9 and holding a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks.

“It was a heartbreaker for us to lose after having as much of the game as we did,” Clark said. “I think if we had scored first, it would have been comfortably our game, but [South Florida] is a great team and you have to put them away early.”

With the loss, the Irish dropped to 2-2-1 on the season while South Florida improved to 3-2-0. The game evoked memories of the team’s other loss, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of UAB in double overtime in which Notre Dame finished ahead in every category but the scoreboard.

Friday night marked the third consecutive week that the Irish have been shut out on the opening game of their weekend.

“I hope [the team’s] disappointed right now, because I’m certainly disappointed right now,” Clark said. “All our horses were there, but the ball just didn’t fall quite right for us at the vital times.”

Notre Dame 3, DePaul 0

Continuing its early season trend of following Friday frustration with Sunday domination, Notre Dame easily defeated DePaul 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field to record its first Big East victory of the season.

It didn’t take long for the Irish take control of the game. Forward Justin McGeeney opened the scoring in only the second minute with his third goal of the season after forward Joseph Lapira had crossed a ball into the box that McGeeney chested down, turned and fired into the goal.

McGeeney’s goal was just one of many chances for Notre Dame early in the game, a point that Irish head coach Bobby Clark spoke to his team about.

“We had three good chances in the first ten minutes against South Florida [Friday night], but we weren’t ready for them,” Clark said.

Notre Dame’s second goal wouldn’t come for nearly 65 minutes, but it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities.

Midfielder Michael Thomas had a point blank header from six yards out in the 19th minute, but he sent it over the top of the goal. Ian Etherington almost doubled Notre Dame’s lead in the 40th minute when he rocketed a swerving shot that went inches wide of the upper corner of the goal.

It was more of the same in the second half. After only five minutes in, midfielder Nate Norman had the ball fall to his feet off a corner kick. But he was unable to capitalize as he miss-hit the ball sending it out for a goal kick.

It wasn’t until the 68th minute that the Irish could exhale. McGeeney rose highest to head the ball toward goal off a Lapira corner kick, but a Blue Demon defender was there to clear the ball off the line. In the ensuing scramble, defender Matt Besler sent the ball back across the box, and midfielder Greg Dalby was there to turn and volley the ball into the net.

We knew we’d won the game [with the second goal], and that was very relieving for me because we’ve been keeping teams around,” Clark said.

Any remaining doubt regarding the outcome was put to rest in the 72nd minute. Etherington gathered the ball near the corner of the 18 yard box off a long cross, cut inside his defender and sent a hard curling ball into the box that was deflected by a DePaul defender into the back of the net for the final goal of the game.

“It was a very convincing game,” Clark said. “We played superbly well on Friday night, but we didn’t finish the job off. We could have done it earlier, but it was nice to finally put DePaul out of sight.”

With the win, Notre Dame evens its Big East record at 1-1-0 and improves its overall record to 3-2-1. The Irish return to action next Friday night at Louisville, and Clark hopes to use Sunday’s result as momentum for next weekend.

“Now we have to get a run going,” he said. “We haven’t won two games in a row all season which has been disappointing. Hopefully, we can get that going at Louisville.”