Ever since the “luck of the Irish” ran out for Notre
Dame in last year’s NCAA men’s soccer tournament
against Michigan, the Fighting Irish have been hungry for revenge.
After the completion of yesterday’s rematch, the Irish went
home with fuller stomachs than on Thanksgiving night.

No. 12 Notre Dame (0-1 Big East, 10-2-1 overall) handed No. 22
Michigan (5-1, 7-3-2) a 3-0 loss in South Bend yesterday night. But
Michigan coach Steve Burns hardly revealed any disappointment.

“I was real pleased,” Burns said. “We had
chances to grab the game by the throat and take it our way early.
We didn’t get the breaks, unfortunately. But for our team to
be able to create seven great scoring chances, I’m pleased
with that.”

The Wolverines had defeated the Irish in a stunning victory in
the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament in order to
advance to the quarterfinals. The game stalemated in a 1-1 tie, but
Michigan defeated Notre Dame in penalty kicks, 4-3.

This year, the Irish were ready, and they didn’t waste
much time.

In the 14th minute of play, Notre Dame’s Justin McGeeney
beat Michigan’s fifth-year senior goalkeeper Joe Zawacki from
five yards out to give the Irish an early one-goal lead.

At 17:41, Notre Dame added to its lead when Luke Boughen gave
the Irish a 2-0 cushion after taking a drop pass from his teammate
15 yards away from Michigan’s goal.

“They were able to connect,” Zawacki said.
“They were able to finish their chances today. They
executed.”

Michigan had several scoring opportunities, especially in the
game’s initial 15 minutes. In that first critical stretch of
the game, one of those chances came when junior Adam Bruh sent a
shot at the Notre Dame net that was redirected by junior Trai
Blanks. But Blanks’s attempt was deflected off the far
post.

“We came out flying in the first part of the game,”
Zawacki said. “We had about three or four really good
opportunities. If those would’ve gone in, it would’ve
been a completely different game.”

Besides the two goals allowed, Zawacki had made three saves to
keep the Wolverines within reach of the Irish. But to start the
second half, Burns tried to mix things up by substituting junior
Peter Dzubay for Zawacki at goalkeeper.

“It’s an opportunity to see where we are with our
goalkeeping position,” Burns said. “I told both
goalkeepers we are going to evaluate them in practice. They are
very close in terms of what they both bring to the table, which is
a positive for us — not a negative.”

Dzubay managed two saves, but couldn’t stop the scoring
attack of the Irish. Adding insult to injury in the last five
minutes of the game, Notre Dame made sure Michigan wouldn’t
be pulling out any luck of its own. Irish forward Nate Norman
received a pass within the goal box and shot it passed Dzubay,
putting the game out of reach for the Wolverines.

Compared to Notre Dame’s potent offense, Michigan’s
attacking game was silenced. The Wolverines were completely
out-shot by the Irish throughout the game. Michigan tallied less
than half as many shots as the Irish, who put up with 23 shots by
the end of the contest.

Burns said Michigan has been used to this pattern all
season.

“We are a team that absorbs a lot of pressure,”
Burns said. “We allow teams to take bad shots against us. Win
or lose, we are being out-shot. That is something our team is
comfortable with. That’s really our style.”

After falling short to No. 3 Indiana last weekend, 2-1, this is
the first time all season that Michigan has dropped consecutive
games. Both came against top-25 teams, but Michigan has still seen
its ranking drop.

But Burns remains confident with the team’s
performance.

“We had a young team on the field that absolutely
could’ve won this game,” Burns said.
“They’re creating chances, and (when you do that) your
breaks are going to come pretty soon.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.