Nov. 27, 2005
CLEMSON, S.C. – The Notre Dame men’s soccer team saw its impressive NCAA run come to an end with a 1-0 loss to Clemson at Historic Riggs Field on Sunday afternoon. The Fighting Irish, who were making just the third Round of 16 appearance in program history, ends the season with a 12-8-3 record. Clemson advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship and will play host to Creighton next weekend.
Clemson (14-5-3) threatened early and finally broke through in the 20th minute as Dane Richards took a pass from Bryson Moore on the left side and sent it to the far post past Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Cahill, who was rushing up on the play, for a 1-0 Tiger lead. That was Richards’ 11th goal of the season. History did not bode well for the Irish as they were just 1-7-0 on the season when their opponent scored first in a match.
Notre Dame managed two shots in the first half, compared to Clemson’s six. Junior midfielder Ian Etherington gathered a throw-in from Joe Lapira and sent the shot wide to the left with 11 minutes elapsed in the period. With 14:37 remaining in the half, sophomore midfielder Kurt Martin blasted a shot high from 30-yards out. That would be Notre Dame’s final threat of the half, despite controlling the ball for a good portion of the final minutes.
“It was a good, hard-fought game and I thought both teams contributed to that,” state Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “We played maybe a little bit too cautious in the first half. After losing the goal, we had to carry the play in the second half.”
The second half featured Notre Dame coming out strong and controlling the ball early but a tough Tiger defense was hard to break. Forward Justin McGeeney attempted the Irish’s first shot of the half straight on from 25-yards out yet the ball was scooped up by Clemson goalkeeper, Phil Marfuggi. Marfuggi would have three saves on the afternoon, compared to two for Cahill.
McGeeney almost connected on his second shot of the half as he sent a header high off a Ben Crouse pass with 34:45 remaining.
The Tigers nearly went up 2-0 in the 74th minute as Richards sent a low shot from the right side that deflected off the left post and came across the mouth of the goal and hit the right post before being cleared out. For the game, Clemson held a 12-10 advantage in shots.
With just over 10 minutes left in the match, Irish midfielder Alex Yoshinaga sent a shot in on goal from the top of the box yet it was cleared away by Clemson’s Alan O’Hara to preserve the 1-0 lead. The Fighting Irish would continue to keep the pressure on late in the match as did the Tigers.
Richards had another close call with four minutes remaining as he lobbed the ball over a rushing Cahill on top of the box but an amazing effort by Notre Dame defender Dale Rellas prevented the goal. Rellas, a senior captain, ran onto the ball and headed it over the goal, nearly hitting his head on the crossbar.
The Fighting Irish had one last chance left in them with just under a minute left in the contest as McGeeney ran on to a long pass and almost connected on a shot yet Marfuggi was there for the save.
“I thought we forced the play very, very well in the second half and I thought we might get something out of it,” said Clark. “But at the same time, when you force the play, you leave yourself a little bit bare in the back. They’re not an easy team to leave bare when they have the little guy (Dane) Richards. He’s very quick. Obviously we would have liked to come out on top. We wish Clemson well in the next round of the tournament.”
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Notre Dame 0 0 – 0
#15 Clemson 1 0 – 1
CU: Dane Richards (Bryson Moore) 19:52
Shots: ND 2-8- 10, CU 6-6 – 12,
Corner Kicks: ND 2-2 – 4, CU 2-1 – 3
Saves: ND 3 (Chris Cahill 2, Team 1), CU 3 (Phil Marfuggi 3)
Fouls: ND 14, CU 14
Offsides: ND 3, CU 7