Riley leads team to first Big East victory
By ANDREW SOUKUP
Freshman Chad Riley scored the first goal of his collegiate career and sophomore goalkeeper Greg Tait had another stellar game as the Irish men's soccer team beat Big East rival Syracuse 3-0.
"We played really terrific soccer," Irish coach Chris Apple said. "I don't think anyone had an off day."
With the win, the Irish improve to 2-2-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Big East.
Tait, who was playing near his hometown of Fayetteville, N.Y., recorded his third shutout of the season.
"I think Greg was motivated to have a good game and he did," Apple said. "He made a couple of professional class saves and in general, showed some very good goalkeeping."
Added Tait: "Coach Apple made some adjustments, and I think they helped out a lot. But I have such a great defense playing in front of me, it makes my job easy."
The Irish got on the board in the 16th minute when senior Conner LaRose headed in Riley's corner kick for his first goal of the season.
When sophomore Erich Braun's shot deflected off Syracuse goalkeeper Kevin Bacher in the 69th minute, senior Dustin Pridmore outraced a Syracuse defender to the ball and knocked it into the net to put the Irish up 2-0.
"Erich's shot bounced off the goalie, and I was stride for stride with the guy marking me," Pridmore said. "I slid into the ball, and it snuck into the goal."
Said Apple: "It's usually one wide midfielder against another, and I've been getting on Dustin to win those battles. I think the other guy was actually ahead of Dustin and he just gave it extra effort and beat him to the ball. It's one of those shots that'll look great on the highlight reel."
Riley cemented the Irish victory when he scored in the 76th minute on a breakaway off a pass from junior Matt Rosso.
"Chad gave the other team fits," Apple said. "He's playing like a junior, not a freshman."
Braun, the 1999 Big East Rookie of the year, made his first start for Notre Dame this season after recovering from a hamstring injury.
"Erich's a goal scorer, so he's a little disappointed that he didn't score, but I thought he had a terrific game," Apple said. "His fitness is great, his passing is great and he was a huge factor in our win.
"I thought Chad and Erich did a terrific job up front. They created so many opportunities for us."
Braun and Riley took nine of Notre Dame's 18 shots, while Syracuse only managed 15.
"We had 19 guys play for us," Apple commented. "That's always positive, having lots of guys play."
Added Tait: "We knew it was going to take a couple games to get going and get comfortable with each other. As long as we play well, play hard, and play together, we feel we can hold our own against pretty much anybody."
The Irish next take the field Tuesday as they host Cleveland State.
All Sports Stories for Monday, September 18, 2000