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ND Men’s Soccer: Tournament trials

Greg Arbogast | Monday, September 1, 2008

Looking only at the scoreboard, it might seem that two different Notre Dame teams showed up this past weekend in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.

No. 3 Notre Dame started the weekend losing 3-0 against No. 12 Akron before rebounding to defeat Duke 4-1 Sunday afternoon to leave the team’s record at 1-1-0. Irish coach Bobby Clark, however, felt that the final score of both games didn’t accurately tell the story.

“We should have done better [against Akron], but we were in the game a lot more than the score suggested,” Clark said. “Sunday was maybe a reversal because Duke was in the game a lot more than the score suggested.”

In Friday night’s game against the Zips, Notre Dame actually outshot Akron 8-6 in the first half, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. The second half saw similarly even play, but Akron’s Steve Zakuani turned a close game into a comfortable Zips victory.

After a Kofi Sarkodie header put Akron up 1-0 in the 56th minute, Zakuani beat three Irish defenders in the 72nd minute before slipping the ball far post past Notre Dame keeper Andrew Quinn. Seven minutes later, Zakuani turned creator as his cross was deposited first-time by Anthony Ampaipitakwong.

“The second two goals were just moments of individual brilliance,” Clark said. “I don’t know where they got Zakuani from, but he’s a special player.

“When we lost the first goal, we lost some discipline at the time. We all went at it individually instead of sticking as a team and that combined with [Zakuani’s] brilliance sealed our fate.”

Shut out on Friday night, the Irish didn’t wait long to open the scoring on Sunday. Junior Justin Morrow scored the team’s first goal of the season and the fourth goal of his Notre Dame career when, in the 7th minute, he took a pass from sophomore Jeb Brovsky and fired into the upper corner of the net.

Half an hour later, sophomore Stephen Perry scored his first career goal when he ran onto a Michael Thomas through-ball and slipped it past Duke goalie Brendan Fitzgerald. In the second half, it became the Bright Dike show as the junior forward, tabbed a dark-horse Hermann Trophy candidate, notched his first career multi-goal game.

Dike’s first goal came after passes from midfielders Matt Armstrong and Dave Donahue put Dike clear in on goal. Donahue was once again the distributor on the fourth and final goal as he laid a pass into the path of an onrushing Dike who made no mistake.

“After Morrow’s goal, they decided to go three at the back, and that opened up a lot of space for us to slip balls through,” Clark said. “To be honest, Dike could have had another three. The defense opened up, and he came thundering through. He had a very good weekend.”

At the other end of the field, Notre Dame senior goalie Andrew Quinn had a solid day making 5 saves including a Mike Grella penalty kick, but Grella converted on the rebound for the Blue Devils’ only goal of the day.

After rotating his goalies throughout the spring and the preseason, Clark appears to have settled on Quinn over Phillip Tuttle as the team’s number one keeper. Quinn played the full ninety minutes in both games this weekend and brought his career record with Notre Dame to 3-3-1.

“It was a very difficult choice because both keepers played exceptionally well in the spring and the preseason,” Clark said in reference to his decision to make Quinn the number one goalie. “I think it’s important that Andrew gets to feel at home there, and that was our thinking [starting him both games this weekend].”