September 9, 2012
by Kathryn L. Knapp
ND shuts down Akron
Chicagoland Soccer News Contributing Editor
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two undefeated teams – No. 4 Akron (3-0-1) and No. 13 Notre Dame (4-0) took the pitch Sunday afternoon. Both teams earned 1-0 wins on Friday over Indiana and Oregon State respectively. Sunday’s match was a tale of two halves, with Notre Dame walking away with a 3-1 victory.
Early in the match the Akron Zips dominated play. Just four minutes in, Scott Caldwell rocketed a shot into the net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. But in the 30th minute, everything changed. A red card was issued to Akron’s Aodhan Quinn after an off-the-ball foul that left Notre Dame’s Nick Besler face down on the field. After being attended to on the sidelines, Besler returned to play. The Zips, however, played a man down for the remainder of the match.
Akron held on for the final minutes of the first half, with a 1-0 lead. But after the intermission, Notre Dame broke the Zips down, taking advantage of their weaknesses and finding the net. Leon Brown started the scoring for the Irish in the 49th minute. Seven minutes later, a free kick opportunity led to a goal. And then a penalty kick by Ryan Finley in the 79th minute put the final nail in the Akron's coffin.
“The result was deceiving,” Akron head coach Caleb Porter said. “We gave up a red card with 60 minutes left in the match. This team [Notre Dame] is too good to let us get away with that. Two unfortunate calls – a set play and a penalty kick got the win for them. But the red card was valid. That’s what ultimately decided this match.”
Notre Dame outshot Akron 22-13. With the win, ND won their tournament and improved to 5-0-0, while outscoring opponents 10-4. It’s the best start in team history since 1987, when the Irish started off 9-0. Head Coach Bobby Clark said he is proud of his team.
“Akron’s a good team and I feel we were a little intimidated by their reputation and they (Akron) really handled the opening of the game very well,” Clark said “We were getting into the game and then they helped us with the red card. From then on we completely took over.”
Notre Dame will host Michigan State on Friday.
“We have a good team and they’ve shown that by overcoming adversity,” added Clark. “We’ve lost two starters to ACL injuries, but we have a lot of character. It’s a long way to go and we have a lot of hard games still to play. I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now, but we have a lot of games to play.”
Akron has been on the road since the season began, and finally the Zips will return home. The Zips have outscored opponents 9-5 this season. Before Sunday, they had allowed just two goals total. Akron will be busy next weekend, hosting St. John’s and South Florida. A 3-1-1 record is not exactly where they planned on being, but Porter said they’ll take it.
“Honestly we’re doing very well. This is the toughest schedule we’ve played since I’ve been at Akron,” Porter said. “We’re not going to win every one of these games. This team has shown what we can do. I believe in this team. As long as we learn lessons from games like this, we will be in good shape.”