Irish end season scoring drought
By KERRY SMITH
The spirited rendition of the Notre Dame fight song that echoed out of the men's soccer team after their match-up with Eastern Michigan signified one thing — the end of a costly scoring drought.
The squad's 5-2 routing of the Eagles Wednesday night was accompanied by many firsts. It was the first time all season the Irish scored more than one goal in a single game.
It was the first time head Coach Mike Berticelli could claim 100 wins with the Irish, and it was the first time Irish players Dustin Pridmore, Andreas Forstner, Jason Jorski and Andrew Aris scored.
"It's about time I scored,"said Aris. "I've missed some opportunities this season so it feels good to put one away. Andy Forstner's goal that put us on top was huge, and it was Jorski's first goal ever, so we're celebrating."
The definitive win over the Eagles comes after a tough first half of the season in which the Irish dropped three straight and suffered two shutout losses.
The Irish even out their record at 4-4-1 and improve on their total number of goals scored, moving from six to 11.
The Eagles put much pressure on the Irish defense in the opening minutes of play, coming up with loose balls and capitalizing on many one-on-one situations to retain control.
"They came on strong in the first 15 minutes,"said Aris. "Defensively, we gave them too much time and space to play with the ball. But after that we closed them down and played very well, especially in the second half."
Pridmore opened up the Irish scoring bonanza 14 minutes, 37 seconds into the game.
Forward Erich Braun initiated the play when his corner kick from the right side went long and wide. The Eagles deflected the ball to the midfield, but could not hold on to it as defender Justin Rattcliffe stole the ball and made a leading pass to Braun.
Pridmore, trailing the play, broke left, as Braun dribbled down the right sideline. Drawing an Eastern Michigan defender and goalkeeper George Tomasso left, Braun dumped the ball to Pridmore, in front of the net for the quick touch-in, putting the Irish on top 1-0.
Eastern Michigan countered to even the score. Eagle midfielder Chris King capitalized on a one-on-one situation and slipped the ball into the net past Irish goalkeeper Gerick Short for the 1-1 tie.
The second half brought four more Irish goals and proof that the squad had some offensive power behind it.
Forstner put the Irish on top for good at 72 minutes into the game.
Braun increased the Irish lead to 3-1 less than two minutes later on a breaking play towards the goal. Taking advantage of a leading pass from Aris, Braun dodged an Eagle defender for the shot from the top of the box.
The Eagles made the game close four minutes later, when midfielder Jeff Schilt came up with the ball in the right corner and booted it past Short to bring the Eagles within one.
The Eagles, despite heightened offensive attempts for the rest of the half, could not come up with another goal and the Irish went on to score two more to secure the win.
Any hope of an Eagle victory was dashed with Notre Dame's fourth goal with less than three minutes remaining. The score came on a 20-yard Jorski blast off of a feed from Aris. Jorski's score is the first career goal for the senior forward.
Aris knocked in a goal of his own to worsen the blow to the Eagles less than 30 seconds after Jorski's goal.
The Irish win over the Eagles marks Berticelli's 100th win as head coach at Notre Dame.
"Naturally, as a coach, I'm pleased and proud to be looking at 100 wins with the University of Notre Dame,"Berticelli said. "For me, it reflects a lot of wins which have involved every player who has played for me here.
"It's most significant because every single player has had a part in this accomplishment,"he continued. "To be honest, it's just like wins 96, 98 and 52 Ñ 100 is just a number. But as a milestone, the 100 wins bring all the players and the games of the past together."
Berticelli's 100th win took some time this season. With the offense back on track for the moment, the Irish hope to use the momentum provided by Wednesday's win as they look ahead to their match-up with Big East rival Syracuse on Saturday.
"It's great to finally win one again," said Aris. "We've played well and even dominated in most of our games this season, but we just haven't been able to take advantage of a lot of our scoring chances and that's been frustrating. This is a huge win for us — a real morale booster. We've got some tough Big East games ahead of us. I think we can play with Syracuse, beat them by a few goals."
All Sports Stories for Thursday, September 30, 1999