This past weekend, the Men's Soccer Club played games against Grand Valley State University and Ferris State.
September 27th, was the date circled on the calendars of all of the Notre Dame Men’s Club Soccer players’, since the schedule was released for the 2014 season. A bitter rivalry forged through fierce clashes of opposing style, dating back to the inception of the two storied programs. It was derby day, where the Fighting Irish hosted the Lakers hailing from Grand Valley State. The stage and the lineups were set as the campus hung in a state of frozen anticipation counting down the seconds for the 1 PM kick off. Half an hour before El Classico an electrifying buzz descended over the McGlinn fields as if the soccer Gods were sparking with prospect of goliaths of the game grappling for both pride and position. As if the match needed any more hype this particular game marked a pivotal moment in the Irish quest for the pinnacle of sporting achievement and legendary legacy, the Regional Tournament. A loss would leave the dismal chances to advance, while a win would warrant pure jubilee for all proud enough to embrace the ND crest across their hearts. One glance at the Notre Dame sideline and fan could see utter determination pure strength of will oozing from the collective pores of men ready to do whatever it took to win. Throngs of fans crammed into every conceivable nook and cranny with any semblance of a view of the field and they roared to life as the ref signaled for the game to start.
The match began with blistering pace as you might expect from the best talent in the greater Midwest. GVSU were quick out of the gate playing with their quintessential loud and aggressive style of play. The Irish countered with spectacular play on the wings from Patty Lawler. An early chance saw senior and leading scorer Michael O’Brien fight off rabid defenders to see a tremendous run end with his shot bounce tantalizingly off of the post. The Irish showed complete and utter defensive resolve thwarting feverish attacks from the opposition. With around ten minutes in the half however Notre Dame fell behind one goal to nil as a tremendous solo effort from a GVSU outside midfielder found the top corner of the net. As both teams retreated to the sides of the field for half time the gravity of the situation started to weigh on the Irish. Brian Roddy and the birthday boy Ryan Bonner were quick to bring up this point at the half. What the Irish needed was inspiration, which came from the newly confident voice of Brian Roddy. With passionate imagery and ethos the team president painted a gritty picture of all the blood sweat and tears that were shed to get as far as the Irish had. As players reminisced of all that they dedicated tears of pride could be seen trickling from the eyes of some of the freshman like “King” Julian Minondo, and Jack Disser. With a newfound confidence and determination Notre Dame readied themselves for the second half.
The second half began and progressed much as the first half did, with intricate play from both sides, but the Irish soon found themselves with an opportunity with fifteen minutes left to play. GVSU had committed a foul twenty-five yards from their goal, and the Irish knew there was only one man capable of taking the shot. With determination in his eyes and 31 pulses coursing through his veins Joe Grady stepped into the spotlight. You could hear a pin drop around the field as fans and players alike waited and watched for the magic they knew only Grady could provide. Feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders he confidently strode towards the ball with confidence and poise. There was only ever one outcome and Joe approached the ball and produced a free kick that would leave David Beckham in tearful jealous awe. Joe walked away with a classy celebration as the entire campus exploded in utter madness. He had accomplished the impossible, yet there was never a doubt in anyone’s mind. The Irish responded with a great spell of play after the goal, but could not find the same magic to pull ahead. With the final whistle the legend of the Fighting Irish remained as strong as ever, as they lived to fight another day.
One day removed from a 1-1 tie against Grand Valley State, the Notre Dame Men’s Club Soccer team took to the pitch yet again on Sunday for a clash against the Ferris State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were slow coming out of their kennels, though, and the Irish took control in the early phases of the game. An early Mike O’Brien penalty kick following an electrifying sideline effort from sophomore Cornelius McGrath put the Irish up 1-0. ND peppered the Bulldogs with shots for the remainder of the half. A dominating performance from defensive gladiator, Brian Bingham, made it possible for Brian Roddy and visibly older Ryan Bonner to get involved in the attack. Roddy, however, failed for the second straight game to deliver one of his infamously clumsy through-ball assists to the forwards. The Irish rode into halftime with a one-goal lead, but approached the second half with a yearning for more. The early exit of midfield warrior Ryan Casserly (injured hamstring) coupled with the general absence of sophomore romantic Mark Grasberger tested the character of the Irish. Nonetheless, the Notre Dame squad found a way to overcome these obstacles with goals from cold-blooded sophomores Cam Perna and Cornelius McGrath. A brief Irish defensive breakdown led to a Ferris State goal, but stunning performances by speedster Liam Heneghan on the left wing and team spokesperson/social media enthusiast Matt Millay gave the Irish the energy to secure the 3-1 victory. Up next for the Irish is a highly anticipated and Facebook promoted contest against Michigan on Friday night.