Sept. 20, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Despite holding a 24-7 edge in shots, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team played Northern Illinois to a scoreless tie on Wednesday evening at Alumni Field. Junior forward Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) led the Irish with seven shots, including a couple good chances for the game-winner late in the match. The draw puts the Irish record at 4-3-2 on the season, while the Huskies are now 5-3-1.
“The result was disappointing, but we had a lot of positives,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “We played well and created chances but couldn’t take advantage of that with a goal.”
Northern Illinois got deep into Notre Dame territory a few times early in the contest, yet Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) held strong and shut the door on the Husky attempts. The senior made two stops on the night to collect his third shutout of the season.
The Irish soon found some rhythm and ended up out-shooting the Huskies 9-3 in the first half. Senior defender Ryan Miller (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) had some nice crosses for the Irish, yet the sequences could not be finished. Notre Dame appeared to crack the scoring column with 3:25 left in the opening stanza as a Lapira corner kick was headed in by sophomore defender Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West), but the tally was negated due to a foul call on the Irish.
Notre Dame did not waste much time in applying more pressure in the second half. Sophomore midfielder Cory Rellas (Plano, Texas/Plano West) sent a blast on goal just 20 seconds into the period however, Husky goalkeeper Joe Zimka made the save to preserve the scoreless match. Zimka collected four saves on the evening.
Lapira would later make a bid for a tally as he sent a shot off the crossbar with a blast from just inside the 16-yard box with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. That would be the last good chance for either team prior to overtime.
The Huskies had perhaps their best chance of the night early in the first overtime session as Marcus McCarty blasted a close-range shot at Cahill and the senior made the save to keep the Irish alive. Freshman Justin Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) had Notre Dame’s best look in the initial 10-minute period as he weaved through the Northern Illinois defense and put a shot on goal that was saved by Zimka.
Arguably the two best chances for the Irish on the night occurred in the second overtime period. In the 105th minute, Lapira sent a shot on goal as Zimka was out of the box and the ball appeared to be heading in for a Notre Dame victory before Husky defender Blake Gotkowski appeared to come out of nowhere to clear the ball of the line. Gotkowski would do the same thing a couple minutes later after Notre Dame’s Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) headed the ball near an empty goal.
“I thought Justin Morrow played well as did all of our outside guys,” stated Clark. “We had a lot of effort and a lot of solid performances, but we just needed to get a goal. We just have to get back out there on Saturday and get after it again.”
The Fighting Irish return to BIG EAST action on Saturday as they host Pittsburgh at 7:00 p.m. at Alumni Field.
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.
Northern Illinois (5-3-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
#21 Notre Dame (4-3-2) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shots: NIU 3-2-1-1 – 7, ND 9-9-3-3 – 27
Corner Kicks: NIU 1-1-0-0 – 2, ND 3-4-1-2 – 10
Saves: NIU 5 (Joe Zimka 4), ND 2 (Chris Cahill 2)
Fouls: NIU 7, ND 11
Offsides: NIU 3, ND 1