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Men’s Soccer: First time’s the charm

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 12, 2007

Freshman forward Josh Thiermann picked a great time to score his first career goal for Notre Dame. Thiermann beat St. John’s goalkeeper Jason Landers in the 73rd minute to give the Irish a 1-0 win over the Red Storm in their Big East quarterfinal Sunday at Alumni Field. Thiermann, who has seen little action so far this season, replaced Justin Morrow barely a minute before the play.”Morrow had been carving up and down the left flank and we felt we needed someone who was a similar athlete. Josh Theirmann had a lot of the same qualities,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. Senior forward Joseph Lapira started the play by sending a cross into the box from the right corner. A St. John’s defender got his foot on the ball but popped it straight up in the air rather than clearing it. Thiermann got a leg free from the defender who was marking him and poked the loose ball in for the game’s lone goal. “He’s got a great career ahead of him,” Clark said. “… In the moment he is playing a role and he did that for us today.”Notre Dame held off the Red Storm for the rest of the game to pick up its 10th shutout of the season. Senior keeper Chris Cahill had two saves for the Irish, who played stingy on defense throughout the game. Clark said that the entire team was responsible for the shutout. “You defend from the team out,” Clark said. “The actual back four was terrific, but the whole team defended well.”The back line got a big boost from the return of junior defender Jack Traynor. Traynor had been out for three weeks after fracturing his leg in a 3-2 loss to Indiana Oct. 17. Doctors removed his hard cast early last week, and the leg was ready for Sunday’s game. “It was great having Jack back,” Clark said. “To get him back as quickly as that is a tribute to the doctors and to our trainer.” The St. John’s defense, which had allowed only 19 goals in 21 games, matched Notre Dame in the first half, preventing the Irish from controlling the ball or setting up any great scoring chances. Notre Dame had seven shots – compared to the Red Storm’s two – but was forced to play hopeful long balls to Lapira for most of the initial 45 minutes, without ever really setting up on offense. The Irish advance to the Big East semifinals with the win. They will travel to Storrs, Conn., to take on DePaul on Friday. The Blue Devils won the Red Division of the conference in the regular season and beat Cincinnati Saturday reach the semifinals. “There going to be a darn good team,” Clark said of his opponent. A win over DePaul would put the Irish in the Big East Championship next Sunday in Storrs.