Sept. 28, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The weather was the story of the night as Notre Dame and Bradley battled the rain, wind and each other for 90 minutes of non-conference men’s soccer action at Alumni Field. A Fighting Irish tally by freshman Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North) in the opening minutes of the match would prove to be the difference in the end as the Braves’ late second half attack could not produce a goal. With the 1-0 victory, the Irish improve to 6-3-0 overall, while Bradley falls to 6-3-0.
From the beginning of the match both teams knew the weather would play a factor and make things more difficult. The Irish made the night even more strenuous for the Braves with a goal in the sixth minute. Following an early injury to Notre Dame’s Justin McGeeney (Ames, Iowa/Ames), Dike subbed in and would make his presence felt early. Senior midfielder John Stephens (Woodbridge, Ill./Benet Academy) sent a free kick into the six-yard box and Dike got a foot on it and sent it up top past Braves goalkeeper Chris Dunsheath. The goal was the first for Dike in his Irish career and his third point of the season, while the assist gave Stephens his fourth point of the campaign.
“It was very difficult to play tonight,” stated Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark after the match. “But I felt both teams put on an entertaining game. Even though there was only one goal scored, I still felt that it was a very entertaining match. Both teams showed a lot of commitment out there. “I was very happy to see Bright score his first goal. All three of our freshmen that played tonight played very well. (Matt) Besler was outstanding in the midfield and (Jack) Traynor did an excellent job as well in the defense.”
Bradley started to put together an attack early in the second half but the Notre Dame defense withstood the challenge. The Braves almost cracked the scoring column with just under 25 minutes left to play when Nick Mentgen got a head on a Steve Chromik corner kick, yet Irish goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) made the stop. Another near miss came three minutes later as Zach Bell broke away from the Irish defense on the left side and sent a shot that went just wide of the far post.
Perhaps the best chance for the Braves came in the 74th minute when Chromik sent a blast off the left post and Bradley did not have a chance for a rebound shot.
Notre Dame had second half opportunities as well, which would have put the game away. With 10:45 remaining, forward Joe Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) took the ball from Ian Etherington (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) on the left side and sent the ball just off the mark and into the side of the net. Lapira would almost strike again in the 85th minute as he took a shot from straight on inside the 18-yard box but it was punched out by Dunsheath and the Irish were not able to secure the ball for a rebound attempt.
“I thought we played a very good first half,” Clark said. “In the second half, we had a lot of chances to put the game out of reach. But they hung around and made the final 15 minutes very nervous for us. It was too close for comfort. We didn’t kill the game like we should have and we didn’t run down the clock. But it was a great to get a win here tonight.”
The Irish continued their trend of one-goal games. Notre Dame has now played eight straight games that have been decided by a single tally. The only game that did not go down to the wire was a 4-1 season-opening win over SMU.
Notre Dame out-shot Bradley 20-10 on the night. Cahill posted his fourth shutout of the season by collecting three saves, while Dunsheath made seven stops.
McGeeney would return to play in the second half.
The Fighting Irish will return to BIG EAST play on Saturday, Oct. 1 as they host West Virginia at 7:00 p.m. The Mountaineers handed Notre Dame its only loss of the 2004 conference season. Stay up-to-date on the Notre Dame men’s soccer team by logging on to und.com or by calling the Notre Dame Athletics Hotline at (574) 631-3000.
Bradley 0 0 – 0
Notre Dame 0 1 – 1
ND: Bright Dike (John Stephens) 5:13
Shots: BU 3-7 – 10, ND 8-12 – 20
Corner Kicks: BU 0-2 – 2, ND 2-0 – 2
Saves: BU 7 (Chris Dunsheath 7), ND 3 (Chris Cahill 3)
Fouls: BU 9, ND 16
Offsides: BU 1, ND 0