May 29, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic), a rising senior on the Notre Dame men’s soccer team, made his international debut with the Ireland National Team against Ecuador in front of 20,823 fans in Giants Stadium on May 23. The friendly match was a 1-1 draw.
Lapira, who is eligible to play for the team since his mother is Irish, trained with the Ireland team for a week in New York prior to the match against Ecuador. He entered the contest in the 86th minute for Daryl Murphy and became the first amateur to play for Ireland since Willie Browne in 1964.
“I think for a fella that’s not kicked a ball for two months, he’s been very sharp in training,” said Ireland National Team coach Steve Staunton. “He looks lively, he can finish – we know that. I thought in the few minutes he was on, he didn’t do bad at all.”
Ireland faced Bolivia on May 26 in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Lapira did not enter that match, which ended as a 1-1 tie.
As a junior in 2006, Lapira won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the top male collegiate soccer player along with being a consensus first-team All-American. The forward led the nation with 22 goals and 50 points. He became the first player in the history of the Notre Dame men’s program to be named the national player of the year from any organization.
Lapira also took home BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year honors along with being on the all-BIG EAST first team. He appeared in all 23 matches this season, making 20 starts. He notched 11 game-winners, including two in the NCAA Tournament to help lead the Fighting Irish into the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.