Oct. 18, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – An Andy Wright goal in the 56th minute would prove to be the difference as No. 4 West Virginia topped No. 6 Notre Dame 2-1 on Wednesday evening in men’s soccer action at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The loss snaps the Irish’s seven-game win streak and eight-game unbeaten streak and puts their record at 11-4-2 overall and 7-3-0 in the BIG EAST. The Mountaineers improve to 13-1-2 and 8-0-1 in the league with the win.
West Virginia entered the contest in a tie for first within the conference’s Blue Division, along with Connecticut, with 22 points apiece, while the Irish were in third place with 21 points. Connecticut’s match with Marquette was postponed on Wednesday night due to inclement weather.
Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Cory Rellas (Plano, Texas/Plano West) notched the first goal of his career in the fourth minute as he took a pass from freshman Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./Blue Valley West) and deposited it into the back of the net to put the Irish up 1-0 early. The assist for Thomas was his second of the season.
The Mountaineers responded in the 17th minute as Dan Stratford scored off a feed from Wright from 22 yards out to knot the game at one apiece. The tally was the first allowed by Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) in three games, which covered a span of 257 minutes.
“This was a very close game,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “We played okay. We scored early and then they got back into it. Their second goal was very good. It was a good combination play.”
The Irish out shot the Moutaineers 10-6 in the first half, yet could not notch another tally and the match was tied 1-1 at the break. For the game, Notre Dame held a 14-13 advantage in shots and a 5-3 edge in corner kicks.
In the 56th minute, Wright would connect from 12 yards out off of touches from Jarrod Smith and Stratford to give West Virginia a 2-1 advantage. The Mountaineers would hold off the Irish the rest of the way to take the victory.
“I think this was a great game for us as we head towards the tournament,” stated Clark. “You have to win these kind of games on the road and we didn’t. But I think it will serve us well down the road.”
Not only did the Irish see their win streak come to a halt, junior forward Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) had his seven-game goal streak snapped. Lapira leads all NCAA Division I men’s soccer players with 19 goals and 41 points.
The Fighting Irish wrap up the regular season with a showdown against Connecticut on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The match will be shown tape-delayed on College Sports Television (CSTV) on Monday (Oct. 23) at 8:00 p.m. (ET).
To stay up to date on the 2006 Notre Dame men’s soccer season, please log on to und.com or call the official Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
#6/7 Notre Dame (11-4-2, 7-3-0 BE) 1-0 – 1
#4/5 West Virginia (13-1-2, 8-0-1 BE) 1-1 – 2
Shots: ND 10-4 – 14, WV 6-7 – 13
Corner Kicks: ND 1-4 – 5, WV 2-1 – 3
Saves: ND 7 (Chris Cahill 7), WV 7 (Nick Noble 7)
Fouls: ND 10, WV 10
Offsides: ND 1, WV 2