Nov. 18, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team used a solid all-around effort in defeating Western Illinois, 2-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday night at Alumni Field. Joe Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) and Kurt Martin (McAllen, Texas/Memorial) netted goals for the Irish in the victory. The Fighting Irish will now travel to Indiana for a second round match-up on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The Hoosiers are the No. 3 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament and are the two-time defending NCAA champions.
“I thought we defended very well,” stated Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “I thought it was an interesting game. I thought they came to play and they have some very good players. We defended well as an entire unit. It wasn’t just the defense, it was the midfield and also the forwards.”
Notre Dame (11-7-3) went up 1-0 in the 20th minute against the Leathernecks as Ryan Miller (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) sent a cross to Lapira from the right side and he put the ball in the lower-left corner for his team-leading sixth goal of the season. That was Notre Dame’s first goal in the last three matches.
“Our offense is starting to connect a lot better,” said Lapira. “At the beginning of the year we had some trouble scoring goals and that’s why we lost a few games. But we are starting to click and the communication between the midfield and forwards is almost where it needs to be.”
The Irish had other scoring chances in the first half as Justin McGeeney (Ames, Iowa/Ames) sent a shot just wide off a nice pass from Nate Norman (Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams). Lapira almost scored again with 16:55 remaining in the half with a shot that was high from the top of the box. The Irish would out-shoot the Leathernecks 4-2 in the first half and 10-3 for the game.
Martin capitalized after an Irish cross was intercepted yet misplayed in the box and the sophomore midfielder sent it with 37:57 left to play for his second goal on the year.
Western Illinois (6-10-4) could not mount an offensive attack against the Irish defense for the rest of the match and Notre Dame would punch its ticket to the second round. Junior goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) collected two saves to earn his eighth solo shutout of the season for the Fighting Irish.
“We came out really slow,” said Irish midfielder Greg Dalby (Poway, Calif./Poway), who was named a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semifinalist this week. “I don’t know if it was just nervousness. They seemed nervous too. The first 10 minutes was back and forth. Once the game kind of settled we caught our second wind and we started to do the things that we do well.”
The Irish are now 4-7-1 all-time in the NCAA tournament with two of those losses coming against their next opponent, Indiana. Both prior NCAA matches against the Hoosiers were 1-0 decisions. Indiana defeated Notre Dame 3-0 earlier this season at Alumni Field on Oct. 26.
“We haven’t looked beyond Western Illinois,” said Clark. “All of our focus has been on Western Illinois. We know Indiana well. We just played them a few weeks ago and they beat us good on that day. They are very good so it will be a very good chance for us.”
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Western Illinois (6-10-4) 0 0 – 0
Notre Dame (11-7-3) 1 1 – 2
Shots: WIU 2-1 – 3, ND 4-6 – 10
Corner Kicks: WIU 0-2 – 2, ND 2-4 – 6
Saves: WIU 3 (Dave Hanlon 3), ND 2 (Chris Cahill 2)
Fouls: WIU 6, ND 17
Offsides: WIU 2, ND 1