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Men’s Soccer: Irish tie St. Louis, top Indiana in OT

Greg Arbogast | Monday, September 4, 2006

Led by junior forward Joseph Lapira and his four goals, No. 18 Notre Dame’s offense erupted in a thrilling 5-4 win in overtime against archrival No. 8 Indiana before a raucous crowd of 5,613 Sunday afternoon at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

It looked like overtime wouldn’t be needed for the Irish, who held a 4-3 advantage late in the game. The referee, however, awarded the Hoosiers a penalty kick with only 11.7 seconds remaining when Indiana’s Darren Yeagle was tripped up by Notre Dame keeper Chris Cahill. Indiana’s John Michael Hayden converted the spot kick to send the game to overtime.

It was only fitting that Lapira, who had already secured a hat trick for the day, would put the finishing touch on the game. Eight minutes into the first overtime, Lapira dribbled around a Hoosier defender and chipped the ball over Indiana goalkeeper Chris Munroe into the right corner of the net to give the Irish their second consecutive victory over the Hoosiers.

“We handled the second half very well, and we were a little unfortunate to give the penalty kick up,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “I thought we showed a lot of character to bounce back from their late goal.”

With his offensive outburst Sunday afternoon, Lapira was named the offensive MVP of the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. His four goals were one short of the Notre Dame all-time record of five, set by Kevin Lovejoy in 1993. Lapira was also the first Irish player to record a hat trick since Devin Prescod accomplished the feat in 2003 against Cleveland State.

“Joe [Lapira] can finish in so many different ways,” Clark said. “He’s quick, can shoot with both feet and he can head the ball. He’s always thinking. That’s possibly his greatest asset.”

While it wouldn’t appear that way from the final scoreboard, it took nearly a half hour for the goal outburst to begin. The scoring, however, came in bunches as Notre Dame and Indiana went back and forth to score five goals in the final fifteen minutes of the first half.

Lapira opened the scoring with a hard shot from the right side of the 18-yard box into the lower left corner of the Hoosier net. Indiana responded six minutes later when Kevin Robson ripped a shot from 18 yards out past a diving Cahill.

Notre Dame regained the lead only eighteen seconds later when senior midfielder Ian Etherington chested the ball in the box, eluded his defender and slipped the ball into the back of the net.

Six minutes later, it was the Hoosiers back on top as they scored two goals only seventeen seconds apart. Indiana’s Brad Ring scored on another long blast into the upper corner of the net, and Yeagle gave the Hoosiers the lead when he deposited the ball into the top of the net from only six yards out.

The teams picked up where they left off after intermission as Lapira notched his second goal of the day only three minutes into the second half on a header from a curling Ryan Miller cross into the box. Lapira completed his hat trick in the 55th minute when he sent a powerful shot into the upper right hand corner of the net.

“There were some great goals today,” Clark said. “You’re never happy when you give up four goals, but if you’re going to give up four goals, it’s good to do it on a day when you score five.”

With the win, Notre Dame improves their record to 2-1-1. They will return home to open Big East play next Friday against South Florida, but Clark feels that the past two weekends have prepared his team well.

“[Next Friday] is going to be a big game, but we’re getting used to playing big games,” Clark said. “If you want to win a national title, you must play top teams, and you must beat them.”

Notre Dame 0, St. Louis 0

Notre Dame and Saint Louis scored a combined ten goals in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. None of those came on Friday night as the two teams battled to a scoreless draw in double overtime at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

“We played very well on Friday night, but I guess we were both saving our goals for Sunday,” said Clark.

Although the overall statistics were even, with Notre Dame out-shooting Saint Louis 12-10 and the Billikens holding the corner kick edge 5-4, the Irish clearly dominated play after the halftime break.

In the second half and overtime periods, Notre Dame out-shot Saint Louis 9-4 including holding the Billikens without a shot in the two overtime periods. Clark credited the turnaround to some halftime adjustments.

“We were giving them too much time and respect in the first half, so we talked about stepping up the pressure and being more proactive,” he said. “That’s what put us back in the game. We made them a lot more uncomfortable, and we saw a lot more of the ball as a result.”

Notre Dame’s best chance came in overtime when Lapira blasted a rebound off a Kurt Martin shot, but it was saved well by Saint Louis goalkeeper Nick Billman, one of four saves on the night for Billman.

Saint Louis had their share of chances as well and they almost opened the scoring in the 16th minute of the contest. A Billiken player got a header off on a corner kick, but sophomore keeper Andrew Quinn got enough of the ball to tip it off the crossbar. Quinn, who made his first start a week ago against Creighton, had three saves on the night and has not given up a goal in his last 198 minutes on the field.

“The game ebbed and flowed, but I felt that we controlled the last hour of the competition,” said Clark. “[Saint Louis] has some excellent players, though, and they’re a team that could feature quite prominently come tournament time.”

With both games going to overtime this past weekend, three of Notre Dame’s four games this season have gone to overtime. Clark sees this as a positive for his team.

“We’re getting used to these overtime games,” he said. “That’s okay because it gives us good game fitness, and the good thing is that we’ve been the team forcing the game in overtime.”