Oct. 25, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 8 Notre Dame men’s soccer team opened BIG EAST Tournament play with a 2-0 victory over DePaul on Wednesday night at Alumni Field. Junior forward Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) upped his nation-leading point total to 45 with three during the contest on one goal and one assist. Senior midfielder Nate Norman (Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams) also added a goal for the Irish, who will now take on Rutgers in quarterfinal action on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (ET) in Piscataway, N.J.
Notre Dame (13-4-2) did not get many good looks at the net in the first half, yet cracked the scoring column with just under five minutes remaining in the stanza. Junior Kurt Martin (McAllen, Texas/Memorial) sent a nice pass up the field to Lapira, who sent a shot on goal that was saved by DePaul goalkeeper Brian Visser. Lapira gathered the rebound and deposited his 20th goal of the season, which leads all NCAA Division I men’s soccer players. The assist was Martin’s second of the season.
“I was very happy with how we played tonight,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “I knew that is was not going to be an easy game for us. We had to show some patience and we did. I thought Kurt Martin had a good game. He had a great pass on the first goal. Matt Besler also played well for us and he just seems to be getting better and better each game.”
DePaul (5-12-2) managed three shots in the first half, while the Fighting Irish collected eight. For the game, Notre Dame held a 17-10 advantage in the category.
The Irish kept attacking early into the second half with their 1-0 lead. In the 56th minute, Lapira found Norman with a cross from close in and he connected on his second goal of the season to put Notre Dame on top 2-0. Lapira’s 45 points is the third-highest single-season total in school history. Kevin Lovejoy’s totals of 63 in 1978 and 55 in 1979 are the top two marks on the list.
The Notre Dame defense would hold tight the rest of the way in collecting its 11th shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) stopped four Blue Demon shots on the night to earn his 10th shutout of the season and move his record to 11-3-1. Visser made six saves for DePaul.
“Nate Norman had a beautiful goal,” stated Clark. “Joseph (Lapira) had another three points and it was just a great all-around effort for us. We know Rutgers will be another challenge for us. They are playing very well and I’ll be looking at tape of them tomorrow.”
Notre Dame will be meeting Rutgers for the first time since 2004 when the two schools square off on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights own a 9-4-1 edge all-time in the series. This season, Rutgers has a 9-6-1 record (6-4-1 BE) and earned the No. 2 seed out of the BIG EAST Red Division. Saturday’s match will be the first game of a doubleheader as the Rutgers women’s soccer team will play immediately following the men’s contest.
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.
DePaul (5-12-2) 0 0 – 0
#8/8 Notre Dame (13-4-2) 1 1 – 2
Shots: DeP 3-7 – 10, ND 8-9 – 17
Corner Kicks: DeP 2-0- 2, ND 1-1 – 2
Saves: DeP 6 (Brian Visser 6), ND 4 (Chris Cahill 4)
Fouls: DeP 12, ND 13
Offsides: DeP 0, ND 0