April 27, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A Ryan Miller (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) goal in the 79th minute was the difference as the Notre Dame men’s soccer team topped the Mexico Under-20 National Team in exhibition play on Friday evening in front of 2,313 fans at a rainy Alumni Field. This marked the third straight year that the Fighting Irish have defeated a Mexican National Team. Notre Dame took down Mexico’s U-17 squad the previous two seasons.
Notre Dame was awarded a corner kick after a fine save by Mexico goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco with just over 11 minutes left in the contest. Irish junior Alex Yoshinaga (San Diego, Calif./Granite Hills), who missed most of last season due to an injury, sent a nice kick into the box and Miller sent it in with a header for the only score of the match.
Mexico nearly netted the equalizer in the 85th minute as Arturo Ledesma sent a header of his own on goal off a corner kick, yet a diving save by sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Quinn (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) kept the Irish on top. Quinn played the entire second half and made three saves. Senior Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) played the first half and stopped two shots.
“This was a great game,” stated Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark following the match. “It was a good test for us and we handled it reasonably well. This is a very good win for Notre Dame soccer even though it was just a friendly match. Technically they are the best team that we’ve ever played. There were a lot of excellent performances tonight in difficult conditions. The crowd was also terrific tonight.”
Mexico held an 8-7 edge in shots during the first half of play. Both teams had their best chances in the second half. Mexico nearly got on the board first as Pablo Barrera sent a shot off the left post before the Irish defense had a chance to clear the ball out.
“Both teams served up an entertaining game,” said Clark. “There were a lot of good opportunities on both ends. It took us a little while to settle into our offense. They had a lot of ball possession early and then late when they were trying for the equalizer. We also had some good chances. Joseph Lapira looked good coming back from his knee injury.”
The Fighting Irish were out shot 18-13 for the game, yet held a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks. Blanco made two saves for Mexico. The Mexican squad is currently preparing for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Canada this coming July. A good portion of the players were on the U-17 World Cup champions in 2005. Notre Dame defeated that U-17 Mexico team, 1-0, two years ago.
“We were able to get a good look at some of our new faces tonight,” commented Clark. “I think things look promising for the 2007 season. We start out against two of the best teams in the country by playing UCLA and Maryland, so this was a great test for us.”
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Mexico (U-20) 0 0 – 0
Notre Dame 0 1 – 1