Oct. 30, 2004
Playing through a fierce cross wind, the fifth-ranked Notre Dame men’s soccer team (13-2-2, 8-1-1) achieved another program first on Saturday evening with a 2-0 victory over Connecticut (8-7-2, 4-4-1). The Irish, who already have the BIG EAST Conference regular season title in hand, have now won eight games in the league for the first time in school history and extend the team’s unbeaten streak to 10 matches.
Two beautiful goals in the game’s last six minutes provided Notre Dame with the win on a tough evening to play soccer. A strong 25-30 mph wind (gusting to 40 mph) battered the players for the entire match and limited many long passes, goal kicks and corner kicks.
“The fans who stayed late were rewarded by seeing two great goals,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said after the game.
“The two teams played a great soccer match despite the tough elements.”
The Irish rookie class starred again on Saturday, with freshman Joe Lapira (the current BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week) nabbing his third BIG EAST game-winning goal of the year at 84:54 off a great feed from sophomore Nate Norman. On a quick restart off a UConn foul, Norman moved up the left side and cross the ball in front of the Connecticut goal. Lapira, practically horizontal to the ground, dove out to drive a header past UConn goalkeeper Adam Schuerman.
An insurance goal was added at 88:35 when sophomore Justin McGeeney controlled a long lead pass up the right side of the field. Freshman John Mousinho, who has played well as an injury substitution at the front of the Irish offense, controlled a great McGeeney pass and beat Schuerman for his first career goal.
Notre Dame’s defense made the lead stick, although Connecticut did manage two dangerous scoring opportunities among its seven shots in the game. Irish goalkeeper Chris Sawyer, who picked up his 10th shutout of the year, third in a row and eighth in Notre Dame’s last 10 games, snuffed out a solid opportunity by Karl Schilling with a diving save in the first half.
Connecticut also had a scoring chance in the second half, but Notre Dame’s defense backed up Sawyer who was drawn off his line on a free kick. The save was Notre Dame’s first team stop of the season.
The ND defense is approaching eye-popping statistics this season. The Irish have allowed just seven goals in 17 matches and a Notre Dame opponent has scored more than just one goal just one time. In addition, the Irish have shutout 11 of 17 opponents this season.
With the regular season winding down, Notre Dame will play host regional rival Michigan State at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The Irish will then entertain a yet-to-be determined opponent in the BIG EAST Quarterfinals on Nov. 6 at Alumni Field.