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Men’s Soccer: Goose eggs

Dan Murphy | Monday, October 8, 2007

Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill and the Notre Dame defense outlasted No. 13 West Virginia in a 1-0 battle Saturday at Alumni Field.

Cahill made six saves while picking up his fourth shutout of the season.

“He is doing everything that is asked of him,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “That is the mark of a really good goalkeeper.”

The biggest stop of the night came when the Mountaineers’ Mark Anoia fired a shot from close range two minutes into the second half. Cahill dove to his left, snagging the ball and preserving the shutout.

Ten minutes later, senior defender Ryan Miller scored the game’s lone goal by heading in a Joseph Lapira corner kick. Lapira, who also forced the corner kick, had great services all night on Notre Dame’s eight corner kick opportunities.

The connection was Miller’s fourth goal and Lapira’s fourth assist of the season – both team highs. Miller had two goals in a 3-0 win over Michigan earlier in the week.

“He was one of our strongest players last year and to this date and time, he has maintained that,” Clark said. “But, I think it was really a team performance on Saturday.”

Clark was pleased with the developing chemistry between middle defenders freshman Matt Armstrong and junior Michael Thomas, who was playing in only his second game of the year due to a broken jaw.

The defense held West Virginia to 12 shots and only one corner kick, while allowing the Notre Dame attackers to put up 23 shots of their own.

The stingy Mountaineers defense had allowed slightly more than 11 shots per game to its opponents prior to Saturday night. All six of West Virginia’s wins have come in 1-0 shutouts and it has only allowed four goals through its first 10 games this year.

“They defend very well,” Clark said. “They have five players who rarely ever leave their defensive duties.”

All five West Virginia defenders are returning starters from last season and all, except for sophomore Alex Erwin, are seniors.

The Mountaineers goalkeeper, redshirt freshman Zach Johnson, has also been outstanding for West Virginia so far this year.

“Their keeper had several excellent saves, at least four or five of them,” Clark said.

Lapira had two great chances taken away by Johnson, and Armstrong was also robbed on a nice shot from well outside of the box. But one goal was enough for the Irish.

With the win, Notre Dame (8-1-2, 5-0-1 Big East) stayed atop the Big East Blue Division, and it is now the only undefeated team in the conference.

The Irish will take a break from conference play this week when they take on regional rival Michigan State Wednesday in East Lansing.