Scoring slump ends with 5-2 thrashing of Eagles
By KERRY SMITH
All season, the Irish have focused relentlessly on sharpening their attack and producing a more potent offense.
That hard work paid off Wednesday night, as the men's soccer team came away with a decisive 5-2 win over the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Irish lit a spark in their offense that hasn't been there all season and, for the first time this year, scored multiple goals in a single game.
"It was beautiful," midfielder Alan Lyskawa said. "We knew it would happen eventually. It's what we've been training for. We've been working all season on putting people forward and trying to get some more goals — it's not something that just happens overnight."
Plagued before by a tough scoring drought, the Irish in one game managed to double their number of goals on the season, moving from five to 10.
"Scoring takes a lot of pressure off the whole team," Lyskawa said. "When you get up on a team by two or three goals and they start to give up you don't have to fight for 90 minutes like we've had to do all season."
The squad, with a 4-4-1 record, plans to carry the momentum created by Wednesday's win into its match-up with Big East foe Syracuse on Saturday.
During the preseason the Big East poll placed Notre Dame at the sixth spot, just one notch higher than Syracuse, at the seventh spot.
The Orangemen, with a 3-5-1 overall record and a 1-2-0 record in the Big East, travel to Alumni Field looking to continue their winning streak after a rocky beginning to the season. The Orangemen opened up their 1999 campaign with four consecutive losses before capturing their first win against Big East rival Georgetown.
Since then, Syracuse has dropped one game to another Big East team West Virginia, before picking up two straight wins. Defeating Adelphi and Army earlier this week, the Orangemen plan to continue their streak to make up for a lackluster start.
Leading the Orangemen squad are senior forward Gabriel Gervais and sophomore midfielder Patrice Bernier. The duo combined for 14 goals and five assists last season and have continued to rack up points this year. Gervais leads the squad with four goals, while Bernier follows closely with three.
The Irish, looking at their second of four straight home games, will need to mimic Wednesday's offensive game to stay on top of the Orangemen. The victory over Eastern Michigan showcased what the team has known all along but wasn't able to prove on the field - that they have many scorers in the line-up and have the potential to pose a big threat in front of the net. Five different players tallied a goal each Wednesday, making for a total of seven scorers on the season. Forward Erich Braun is the only repeat scorer on the squad with three goals.
"Syracuse is a game we're playing with a home advantage and we intend to win," Lyskawa said. "We aren't going into the game hoping for a win or thinking we might be able to win — we know that this is a game we should win."
The Irish hold a slight 3-2-0 advantage in their series with the Orangemen. The Irish squad picked up a win in last year's meeting and look for a repeat performance when they take the field Saturday.
All Sports Stories for Friday, October 1, 1999