The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Soccer: Irish split pair of conference games

Greg Arbogast | Monday, September 18, 2006

If there’s one thing Notre Dame has been consistent with this season, it’s been its inconsistency.

For the fourth consecutive week Notre Dame failed to win two games in a weekend.

After Notre Dame dispatched of Louisville 2-0 on Friday night, it was Cincinnati who ruined an Irish bid for a perfect weekend as the Bearcats rallied for a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Gettler Stadium.

“After finally getting the Friday monkey off our back, we went out and lost on Sunday,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “When you play two games on the road and win one and lose one, it’s not the end of the work, but it would have been nice to win both of them.”

The Irish had an optimal start to the game as senior forward Justin McGeeney opened the scoring in only the 12th minute with his fourth goal of the season. Midfielder Nate Norman started the play as he beat his defender inside the 18-yard box and unleashed a shot. Bearcat keeper Mike Vessells made the save, but McGeeney was there to tap in the rebound from close range.

It wasn’t until after halftime that Cincinnati found an equalizer. Bearcat midfielder Mike Dwyer beat his defender to the end line where he centered the ball around the penalty spot. His cross found an unmarked Kenny Anaba, who fired the ball into the goal on his first touch.

Anaba also played a part in Cincinnati’s second goal as he managed to get his head on a Patrick Baxter cross. Anaba’s flick floated perfectly into the path of Noah Davidson, who headed home and put the game away with only six minutes remaining.

“We knew we had to get another goal (after the first goal), so we weren’t sitting back,” said Clark. “(Cincinnati) was pushing the whole game, though, and they possibly had the better chances on the day.”

Senior Chris Cahill broke the team’s recent trend of rotating goalkeepers as he received his second consecutive start in goal. Along with the two goals he conceded, Cahill made six saves on the afternoon. Clark, however, was pleased with his keeper’s overall performance.

“He’s been playing very well lately,” Clark said. “He played well Friday night. He played very well today. We just felt that he was the right man for the job this weekend.”

With their split this weekend, Notre Dame’s record now stands at 4-3-1 and 2-2-0 in Big East play. Despite his team’s recent inconsistency, Clark feels that there is no reason for his team to worry.

“(The Big East) is a hard league with a hard schedule,” Clark said. “Nobody said it would be easy, but you have to pick yourself up and you have to keep fighting.”

Notre Dame 2, Louisville 0

Joseph Lapira can’t stop scoring.

Notre Dame’s junior forward scored two more goals against Louisville to give the Irish not only their first win on a Friday night this season but also their first goals on a Friday night as Notre Dame defeated Louisville at Cardinal Park.

With his two goals, Lapira brought his season total to seven, four more than fellow McGeeney, who is second on the team with three goals. Lapira also tied his goal output of seven from last season, a total which led Notre Dame in 2005.

“Last year he was a little unlucky,” Clark said. “This year, he’s a little bit older, little bit wiser. He’s handling things very well. I hope there are a lot more goals in Joe this year.”

Lapira’s first goal came in the 58th minute off a pass from junior Kurt Martin. Lapira faded to the blind side of his defender, used his first touch off Martin’s chip to push the ball past his defender and slotted the ball into the corner of the net.

Louisville had been playing only one forward up until Notre Dame’s first goal – employing a defend and counter-attack style – and Clark noted that the tone of the game changed after his team scored.

“When we scored the goal, they had to come out and try to get back into the game,” Clark said. “Them coming out opened up space at the back, and that’s how Joe scored his second goal.”

Despite chances, it wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Notre Dame would find that elusive second goal. Similarly to his first goal, Lapira got behind his defender where he proceeded to take a through pass from freshman Justin Morrow and tuck the ball away into the corner of the Cardinal net.

Cahill, playing in front of family friends in his hometown of Louisville, got the start in goal for the Irish. He recorded four saves on the night while earning the shutout, his second of the season and tenth of his Irish career. Notre Dame now stands at 3-1-0 this season when Cahill mans the net.

“We wanted to give Chris a start in his hometown, and he certainly looked up to all expectations from family and friends,” Clark said. “He made two key saves and played exceptionally well.”

With the win, Notre Dame improved its overall record to 4-2-1 and 2-1-0 in Big East play on the season. It was also the first time that the Irish have won two consecutive games this season, but Clark is already focusing on another goal.

“We haven’t won two games in the same weekend yet, so this is our first opportunity to do that,” Clark said. “We’re preparing to do that now.”