Mens Soccer: Three quick goals finish off Friars
By: BRYAN KRONK
With conditions at the beginning of the Sunday's Notre Dame mens soccer game more reminiscent of coach Bobby Clark's native Scotland than South Bend, the Irish offense struggled early.
Then the clouds broke open and so did the Irish offense.
Notre Dame scored three goals in a 90-second span in the second half to put away a game in which the Irish dominated Providence, 5-1.
"It was nice to get a game where we could get everyone in at the end," Clark said. "I was a little scared that the boys were going to be looking past this game. [Providence is] the kind of team that can just get in the road, so it was one of those difficult games."
Midfielder Luke Boughen scored twice – in a span of 1:12 – and midfielder Chad Riley added three assists to bring his season assist total to six. Erich Braun also added two goals, bringing his season goals total to six. Sunday's game already marked Braun's third game this season in which he has scored more than one goal.
As the game began, both teams got off to a slow start due to the weather, as rain and wind exacerbated the chilly game time temperatures in the early going.
The Friars' defensive strategy of pulling Notre Dame's forwards offsides worked, as the Irish were flagged for seven offsides penalties in the first 24 minutes of the game.
However, the Irish were able to overcome the Providence defense once in the first half, as Erich Braun put the ball in the back of the net to put the Irish ahead 1-0 with 33:54 left in the first half.
Braun's tally was the lone Irish goal of the period.
Then the sun came out as the second half began, and the Irish took over.
Six minutes in, Irish forward Devon Prescod stole a pass from a Friar defender and spun around goalie Michael Greulich on his way to scoring his first goal of the season.
On the ensuing kickoff, Riley stole a pass and launched a cross pass that found Boughen in front of the net. Boughen's goal — his first of the season — put the Irish ahead 3-0.
Just over a minute later, Riley once again found Boughen, who blasted a shot past Greulich to give the Irish a 4-0 lead.
"It was nice for Luke, because Luke played really, really well against Bradley [on Thursday]," Clark said. "He's got a very good shot, but he hadn't scored any goals yet, so that certainly made a difference for the team when he scored."
As the Irish offense was busy running up the score, the defense held the Friars at bay, keeping them without a shot for the first 17 minutes of the second half.
With the game comfortably in hand, Clark made plenty of substitutions, including swapping sophomore goalie Chris Sawyer with senior Greg Tait .
"We haven't had a game like that in a wee while, since the Seton Hall game [on Sept. 7]," Clark said. "It was really nice to get everybody in; that was important."
Irish defender Kevin Richards sent a cross pass from the right corner which found Braun wide open in front of the net, giving the Irish a very comfortable 5-0 lead.
Providence avoided the shutout with just under 10 minutes left in the game as Friars midfielder Eoin Lynch took a lead pass from midfielder Derek Nobrega and shot it past Tait to put the Friars on the board.
Notre Dame outshot the Friars 20-10, and Irish goalies finished with five saves.
The Irish improve to 4-1-2 on the season, and 2-0-0 in the Big East. Providence falls to 1-5, having won its first match but lost its last five.
The Irish next have two key road games coming up, including a key match Thursday at national powerhouse St. John's, as well as a match Sunday at Big East contender Rutgers.
"We've now got to take it to the next level," Clark said. "We've got two very tough games coming up, possibly [against] two of the teams who will be looking to win the [Big East], so we need to now take this on the road."
Contact Bryan Kronk at email@example.com
All Sports Stories for Monday, September 23, 2002