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Men’s Soccer: Notre Dame earns two Big East wins over break

Molly Sammon | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two big in-conference wins against Georgetown and Pittsburgh over the past two weeks boosted No. 15 Notre Dame’s confidence just a week shy of the Big East Tournament.

After previously dropping four spots in the polls from an Oct. 12 loss against Marquette, the Irish blanked the No. 20 Hoyas 3-0 in Washington D.C. on Oct. 15 and beat the Panthers 3-1 at Pittsburgh on Saturday for a chance to climb back up national ranks.

The Irish were scheduled to play Seton Hall at Notre Dame over fall break, but the game was postponed due to weather.

Three Irish forwards combined for goals at Notre Dame’s shutout on Hoya turf. First, junior forward Danny O’Leary led the Irish scoring rally.

“It was an absolutely beautiful goal,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

The Hoyas outshot the Irish 18-16, but were not able to take their shot advantage past Irish senior goalkeeper Will Walsh.

“We played well,” Clark said. “It was a good game, and it was much closer than the score suggests.”

Junior forward Ryan Finley and senior forward Michael Rose each added a goal before the end of the game.

“It was nice that some goals fell in for us during that game,” Clark said. “Before, at Marquette, that just wasn’t happening for us, so it was nice to see that change during the Georgetown game. It was overall a good performance.”

Finley’s goal was his fifth of the season and secured his position as the team-leading goal scorer.

“There are a lot more goals to come for Ryan, quite a few more from him,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he doubled the number of goals he has before the end of the season. He’s a predator, and he looks to score goals. He’s been unlucky that he doesn’t have more.”

The win against Georgetown marked the first time that the Hoyas lost by a margin of two or more goals.

The Irish continued their Big East success at Pittsburgh on Saturday, where sophomore forward Harry Shipp’s two goals — and almost a third — led Notre Dame to another win.

“Though [Shipp] was only credited with two goals, I think he really scored three,” Clark said.

Notre Dame’s first goal came with the help of a Pittsburgh defender who tapped a shot of Shipp’s into their own goal. The credit officially went to the team on the first point.

Shipp sent one past the Panther goalkeeper in the 33rd minute for a 2-0 lead into the half. He responded again 2:14 into the second half and the Irish carried their advantage through the rest of the game.

“We completed passes. We created chances. The team looked very good,” Clark said.

Notre Dame outshot Pittsburgh 15-1 in the first 45 minutes of play, then again dominated the Panthers nine shots to six in the second half.

“It was a very good performance, especially in the first half,” Clark said. “We played well in the second half too, but to outscore a team 15-1 on their ground was very decisive. We demonstrated our superiority.”

The Irish will travel to play Providence on Oct. 26, then play West Virginia at home Oct. 29 before they meet Seton Hall for their last home game of the regular season Oct. 31.

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