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Men’s Soccer: Notre Dame falls to No. 4 seed Virginia in Elite 8 showdown

Greg Arbogast | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In just 20 seconds, Notre Dame went from a team on the comeback trail to packing its bags.

With 20 minutes remaining in Notre Dame’s NCAA quarterfinal match against Virginia Friday, left forward Joseph Lapira found forward Kurt Martin near the net on a free kick to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 2-1.

On the ensuing kick-off, Virginia junior midfielder Nico Colaluca got open on the wing and carried the ball untouched to the end-line where crossed to onrushing Adam Cristman, who smashed the shot home to push the Cavaliers’ lead to 3-1. Though the Irish scored late, Virginia held on 3-2 to eliminate Notre Dame from the NCAA tournament one game short of the program’s first-ever Final Four.

Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said Cristman’s goal took the wind out of Notre Dame’s sails.

“It was a tough goal because we started out the second half very strongly, and we had the momentum once we scored,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s well known that after you score is a critical time to keep your focus, and we didn’t do that.”

Notre Dame pulled within one goal in the 84th minute when Martin converted a penalty kick to record his first career multi-goal game for Notre Dame. The Irish pressured late, but were unable to find the tying goal.

“Our guys showed a lot of character,” Clark said. “A lot of guys would have caved in, but our guys kept fighting and managed to get a goal back.”

While Notre Dame put together a comeback effort in the second half, it was the first half that pinned the Irish in a tight spot.

The opening minutes saw pressure from both sides with Cristman having the golden chance before Irish keeper Chris Cahill stoned him in a one-on-one opportunity. Cristman would get his revenge in the 25th minute, however, when he opened the scoring with his first goal of the evening.

Colaluca was again the provider as he sent a through ball to Cristman, putting him one-on-one again with Cahill. The senior forward made no mistake with his second opportunity slipping the ball past Cahill to give Virginia a 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, the Cavaliers would double their advantage. Virginia, who was dangerous on set pieces all game, sent a free kick into the box that Notre Dame was unable to clear, and sophomore forward Yannick Reyering made the Irish pay, depositing the loose ball into the back of the Notre Dame net.

In the first half, the Irish were forced to do without starting sophomore defender Jack Traynor who left last weekend’s Maryland game in the second half with an ankle injury. Traynor, who was a game-time decision to make Notre Dame’s 18-man roster, came on at halftime to play the final 45 minutes.

“We knew we could get one half out of [Traynor], but the question was whether to play him in the first or the second half,” Clark said. “You can second guess yourself until you’re blue in the face, but it would have been nice to have the whole team fit for the game.”

After the loss, the Irish finish the season 15-6-2 with a résumé that includes a victory over the defending national champion for the second straight season, an eight-game unbeaten streak and the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.

“You can’t be anything else but proud of the team,” Clark said. “You come off after the last game, and you know the team’s given everything they have.”


u Lapira was named as one of the three finalists for the Hermann Trophy annually given out to the nation’s best player. He leads the nation in goals (22) and points (49), despite playing injured throughout the year.

After Friday’s loss, Clark revealed that Lapira tore cartilage in his meniscus during the first game of the season against UAB. Lapira and the coaching staff considered surgery before deciding to play through the injury. For about the last month, Lapira has not trained at all between games.