Harris goal earns win for Irish in final preseason tune-up
Daniel O'Boyle | Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Irish head coach Bobby Clark didn’t see junior midfielder Oliver Harris’s goal that gave No. 4 Notre Dame a 1-0 win over No. 22 Saint Louis on Monday. But whether he saw it or not, he knew it was a wonderful strike.
As Harris flicked the ball up under pressure from a Billikens defender almost 25 yards from goal, turned and hit a right-footed shot just beyond the reach of the Saint Louis goalkeeper, off the post and into the goal, Clark was working on preparing his substitutes.
“It’s been well described to me,” said Clark. “I actually missed it, because I was talking to our fitness coach about getting the next group of guys ready, but it sounded like a really great goal. Now he’s got to do it again so I can see it.”
Harris’s goal livened up the game after a quiet first half in which neither side had a shot on target. The Billikens held much of the early possession and showed promise down the wings early on but failed to create many clear chances. Clark said their inability to create any serious early scoring chances was a testament to the work of the Irish off the ball.
“To be fair, they started well, but they didn’t penetrate,” said Clark. “They just had a lot of the ball. I think that’s good because we showed good shape without the ball, and we didn’t leave any holes where they could penetrate.
“Once we could get into the game and started pressing we got a hold of the ball, and once we got the ball we could start playing our game and we certainly had some opportunities.”
The Irish created the better of the chances in the first half, with sophomore midfielder Jon Gallagher hitting a pass from senior defender Michael Shipp narrowly over the bar. Gallagher also showed promise early on by beating two defenders in a run down the right wing, before his pass was cleared for a corner.
Also in in the first half, graduate student Max Lachowecki fought hard to make it into the box and send the ball towards senior midfielder Evan Panken and sophomore midfielder Blake Townes.
The second half started with strong Irish pressure just outside the Saint Louis box, which was eventually rewarded with the goal from Harris in the 50th minute. From there the Irish were quick to push on with Gallagher forcing a save from Billikens goalkeeper Sascha Otte less than a minute later, and Harris striking the crossbar soon afterwards.
Late in the game, the Billikens forced some important saves from senior goalkeeper Brian Talcott, who was returning from a concussion that saw him miss the opening two games of the season. Talcott couldn’t hold onto the first shot he faced, but got down to save the rebound. Not long after he stretched across his goal to save and hold onto a close range shot from Billiken junior midfielder Joe Saad, while he also managed to claim multiple crosses under pressure. Clark said he was impressed by Talcott’s performance.
“He made couple of really good saves,” said Clark. “We brought on all the young guys and were a little less solid at the back but he did well. He did very well actually.”
Referee Lance VanHaitsma showed three yellow cards and opted to not show a card to Billikens midfielder Tyler David after an incident with Gallagher, but Clark said he felt the correct call was made.
“There was a little bit of pulling and pushing,” said Clark. “Their guy fell, and I think Jon fell into him, and I don’t think he realized what had happened and thought Jon had done it intentionally, and maybe he punched or pushed Jon, but it was handbags at dawn. I don’t think there was really anything in it. I thought the referee handled it very well.”
The game was also a return to Alumni Stadium for former Irish forward Vince Cicciarelli, who transferred to Saint Louis after four years with Notre Dame. Cicciarelli, who scored eight goals in 44 games for the Irish, was greeted with a warm reception from the Irish supporters but had little impact in his 45 minutes.
Clark said this exhibition game was the brightest performance so far this year for the Irish and was impressed by his team’s control of the game.
“I think it took us maybe 10 minutes to get a grip on the game, but then we got a good handle on it,” said Clark.
“It was the third of our preseason scrimmages, and the first where I think we got a really good handle on the game. We’ve still got some things to work on and there’ll be harder games, but Saint Louis are a good team, they’ve won both their scrimmages, it was a good test. There were more positives than negatives which is always good.”
The Irish return to the field Friday at 5 p.m. when they face Maryland in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Indiana.