Sept. 2, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The 16th-ranked Notre Dame men’s soccer team opened the season in grand fashion by defeating No. 7 SMU 4-1 during game one of the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Friday evening. The Fighting Irish netted two goals early and added two more late in the contest to seal the Mustangs’ fate. Spreading the wealth was the story for the Irish as four different players tallied goals. Greg Dalby, Nate Norman, John Stephens and Joe Lapira all scored for Notre Dame.
It did not take long for the Fighting Irish to get on the board as Dalby (Poway, Calif./Poway), a junior midfielder, netted a free kick less than two minutes into the match. The tri-captain floated the ball over the goalkeeper’s head from 40 yards out for the first goal of his Notre Dame career.
Norman (Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams) put the Irish up 2-0 in the 15th minute as he blasted a shot, which he took just outside of the box, into the left side of the net. It was the third career goal for the Irish junior midfielder, who collected three points (1G, 1A) over the course of the team’s two exhibition games prior to this season. The Irish continued to keep the Mustang goalkeeper, Steve Sandbo, busy as they almost took a three-goal advantage on a few instances in the first half.
SMU cut the deficit in half in the 37th minute as Jay Needham deflected a Paulo da Silva shot past starting Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) from eight yards out. The goal sequence began with a Mustang free kick that was sent into the box and the ball bounced around a couple times before it was collected and knocked in. The Irish led 2-1 at the half.
Notre Dame put the game out of reach by hammering in two goals within a minute of each other in the second half. Senior tri-captain John Stephens (Woodbridge, Ill./Benet Academy) waited near the right side of the goal on a long free kick from Dalby and sent it in for a 3-1 Irish lead at the 79:13 mark. Not even a minute passed when Lapira took a pass from Alex Yoshinaga (San Diego, Calif./Granite Hills), broke away and pushed the shot past Sandbo for a three-goal Irish advantage. Notre Dame would go on to win the by the 4-1 margin.
“It was a fabulous way to start a season,” said Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “We still have a lot of work to do but we are very happy. The final outcome flattered us a little bit. Beating a top-10 team is always extraordinary and to beat them by three goals is an even better achievement.”
Prior to the two second half goals by the Irish, the Mustangs put pressure on the Notre Dame defense in the second stanza, yet the Irish held strong. In his first collegiate action, the junior Cahill made one save in 90 minutes of play. Two Irish freshmen made it onto the field in the season-opener. Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) earned the start in the Irish backfield and Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North) came off the bench to play valuable minutes. Sophomore Andrew Benton (Marietta, Ga./Kell) also saw his first action in a Fighting Irish uniform.
“We were excellent in the first half,” Clark said. “We didn’t know quite what to do in the second half, whether to go forward or hang back but the third goal took all of the pressure off and it killed the game.”
Notre Dame is now 19-7-3 all-time season-openers, including 4-0-1 in the Bobby Clark era. The last four-goal performance by the Fighting Irish came in a 4-0 win over Loyola-Chicago on October 3rd of last season. The last four-goal effort against a top-10 team came in a 4-0 victory over No. 6 Seton Hall in the 2002 campaign.
The Fighting Irish return to action on Sunday at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic with a match-up versus No. 10 Wake Forest at noon.
“It will be another test for us on Sunday against Wake Forest,” Clark said. “We don’t have a lot of time to relax but we’ll be ready to go again.”
Stay up-to-date on the 2005 Notre Dame men’s soccer season by logging on to und.com or by calling the Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
#16 Notre Dame 2 2 – 4
#7 SMU 1 0 – 1
Shots: ND 7-5 – 12, SMU 6-4 – 10
Corner Kicks: ND 2-4 – 6, SMU 4-1 – 5
Saves: ND 1 (Cahill), SMU 4 (Sandbo 3, Team 1)
Fouls: ND 14, SMU 9
Offsides: ND 3, SMU 2