Late Valpo goal breaks ND winning streak
By KERRY SMITH
Freshmen Erich Braun and Paul Rodriguez combined for two goals against Valparaiso Tuesday, but it was not enough for a win as the Crusaders battled the Irish to a 2-2 tie, bringing the team's overall record to 7-4-2.
The tie brings a four-game Irish winning streak — the longest for the team since the 1997 season — to a close.
"We played well at times — there were some bright spots but also a lot of room for improvement," sophomore midfielder Matt Rosso said. "It's obviously a disappointing tie, especially with four wins in a row before this game."
The two squads played well into the second sudden death overtime period before officials halted the contest at the 117 minute 31 second mark because of darkness.
The tie marks the first ever non-win for the Irish in the 27-game history of the series.
Crusader forward Scott Daly came up big for Valparaiso, scoring both of his team's goals — the second coming with just 23 seconds left in regulation to tie the game.
"Valpo played a good game," Rosso said. "We were expecting them to come at us hard and put some pressure on us and that's just what they did."
Daly led the Crusader attack in the opening minutes of the first half, scoring less than six minutes into the game off a feed from J.J. Ruane.
"We had a lot of opportunities to score," Rosso said. "We dominated in the beginning but they took control on one transition and finished their play. That sort of deflated our game a bit."
The Irish attack responded 10 minutes later, tallying two goals in less than a minute.
Braun tallied the tying goal at the 15:36 mark unassisted to even the score at 1-1.
Rodriguez scored the go-ahead goal just 59 seconds later on a play set up by Braun.
The Irish clung to a 2-1 lead until the final seconds, before the Crusaders put the ball in the net to for the 2-2 tie.
"We didn't pressure the ball at the end," Rosso said. "It was our fault that we didn't get out there fast enough to clear the ball. Instead of playing small ball we should have been looking for the clear and instead of taking it up the middle we should have been looking wide."
The Irish dominated offensively in the first half, outshooting the Crusaders 10-3, but let up in the second half, managing to put only five shots on goal.
"After our 2-1 lead in the first half we should have been able to get one or two more goals," Braun said. "We should have been able to secure the win."
Notre Dame failed to capitalize on any scoring opportunities in overtime and were able to come up with just three shots on goal.
Crusader goalkeeper Ken Kirleis played a pivotal role for Valparaiso, coming up with 10 saves to keep the squad in the match. Irish goalkeeper Gerick Short tallied three stops.
Braun's goal marks his eighth of the season. Braun leads the Irish in scoring as well as total points and has been a key player on the Irish front line in recent wins. The forward starter has tallied at least one goal or assist in each of Notre Dame's last five outings.
Rodriguez's goal is his first of the season.
Tuesday match with Valparaiso is the last non-conference game of the season for the Irish. With a 3-1-1 conference record, he Irish are looking ahead to six Big East matches to round out the regular season.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, October 13, 1999