Irish open season by toppling Crusaders in exhibition match
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, August 21, 2018
The Irish put Valparaiso away late during their 15th Annual Grassroot Soccer Contest last night at Alumni Stadium to open up the 2018 campaign with a 3-1 exhibition win.
No. 17 Notre Dame continued their undefeated record in home fall exhibition contests after breaking a 1-1 deadlock in the second half thanks to senior defender Felicien Dumas’ penalty kick. Senior forward Ian Aschieris added goal from the top of the box in the final two minutes to seal the win for the Irish.
Early on in the first half, Notre Dame dictated play and steadily increased the pressure around the Crusaders’ box. In the 14th minute, Aschieris was able to fire in a cross from the right side. Senior midfielder Sean MacLeod finished it with a bouncing header, staking the Irish to a early lead.
13 minutes later, Valparaiso answered as junior midfielder Aidan Garcia slotted home a rebound off the bar past senior goalkeeper Ryan Krutz, who was helpless to save the shot.
Notre Dame tried to pull ahead before halftime, threatening again around Valparaiso’s box, and both teams had saves off the goal line before the clock ran out on the opening period.
“First half could have been a little better defensively when they had their spell of possession and not give them quality chances,” head coach Chad Riley said.
The second half showed a more controlled game by Notre Dame, and the Irish deservedly regained the lead in the 57th minute. After sophomore forward Paul Rothrock earned a free kick deep in the Crusader side of the field, MacLeod sent a dangerous ball into the box which led to Rothrock being tackled illegally inside the box. The Crusader mistake led to Dumas stepping up to the penalty kick and burying into the top right corner, giving the Irish a 2-1 lead.
Battling against the one goal difference, the Crusaders tried to equalize, but the Irish stood firm defensively and eventually wore down the opponent with shots on goal, with Aschieris culminating the performance by firing a shot that curled around the keeper inside the right post within the last three minutes to seal Notre Dame’s victory.
Riley was happy with the win, but said his team still had room to improve.
“It’s our third exhibition and it has been our best performance and probably against our best opponent, but still some ragged moments … [we need to] just get that coordination, we have only been together since our first training session August 8,” Riley said. “So I think those moments were there for both teams. There will be moments where we are on top of teams and making chances, but everyone on our schedule is good enough to make chances.”
Moving on to the Mike Berticelli Memorial Game against Saint Louis University this Friday, Riley voiced his approval of the direction the team is moving in since their first exhibition game.
“The guys are starting to get used to one another and I think there is a lot of experience but new guys are in there … overall positive stuff,” Riley said. “I was proud. At the end of the day every game on our schedule is going to be tight to score goals. Going to be that 70th and 90th minute, who is going to be that team that mentally has the fortitude and is physically prepared.”