Cox's goal sends Irish to 1-0 victory over Vikings
By KERRY SMITH
The Irish looked for some confidence heading into this weekend's Big East matchups and found it Tuesday night with a 1-0 win over the Cleveland State Vikings.
"As for our confidence level, a win is a win," senior forward Ryan Cox said. "We got the goal we needed and then hung in there tight at the end. We're expecting some pretty decent results this weekend."
The Irish and the Vikings traded possessions early on and had trouble clearing the ball past the midfield in the opening minutes of play. After the initial struggle for control, the Irish went on the offensive at the seven-minute mark and dominated for the rest of the game.
Notre Dame, building from the backfield and utilizing a patient attack, delivered 11 unanswered shots on goal in the first half.
"Cleveland State's a tough team to play," Cox said. "They're coming in here thinking `We're playing Notre Dame.' They get psyched wanting to beat Knute Rockne, Joe Montana, Rudy and the whole — so it's always a going to be a difficult game because they get pumped up."
Cox ignited the offense after coming off the bench midway through the half. A pivotal player in the win, he knocked a shot past Cleveland State goalkeeper Geoff Mauch with 7:43 remaining in the half to put the Irish on top 1-0.
The goal came after a minute-long struggle against a scrappy Viking defense in the box. Freshman forward Alan Lyskawa tried to take advantage of a cross from the right sideline — his shot sailed past Mauch, but was deflected off of the right post narrowly missing a score.
Cox, vying for position in front of the goal, capitalized on the rebound and kicked the ball into the back left corner of the net for the game-winning goal.
"We've got a lot of team unity — we support each other well, where that hasn't been so much the case during the past couple of seasons," Cox said. "When everyone's unified and on the same page that makes the job a little easier to get done successfully."
Despite dominating on attack and putting much pressure on the goal in both halves, the Irish had trouble finishing their plays.
With 22 shots on goal and 11 corner kick attempts, Notre Dame only came away with one score on the night.
"We're still working on our attack," said Cox. "But I think it's coming along quite nicely."
Even with a one-man advantage after officials ejected Cleveland State's Kareem Reynolds with a red card at the 83:25 minute mark, the Irish offense couldn't put the ball in the net.
Failing to finish on scoring opportunities has plagued the offensive line all season —despite numerous attempts, the squad scored only four times in five games.
In the backfield, the Irish put on a strong performance in order to cling to the 1-0 lead. The starting defensive line of senior Matt McNew, junior Connor LaRose and freshman Andreas Forstner came up big, limiting Cleveland Sate to only two shots on goal and four corner kicks.
McNew and LaRose both stifled key attempts by the Viking offense at one-on-one situations with Irish goalkeeper Gerick Short in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Vikings' freshman Adam Camponelle on attack led the Vikings' offensive attempts.
"Cleveland State's a good team," Cox said. "The number 10 shirt [Camponelle] was a real strong player. They'll be an even tougher team in a couple of years because most of the team is pretty young."
The win against Cleveland State marks the last game on home turf for the Irish before a four-game road trip. Notre Dame faces formidable opponents this weekend in Big East rivals Seton Hall and Connecticut.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, September 15, 1999