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Irish Fall to Michigan, Top Oakland in Spring Tilts

Mar 26, 2014, 1:36 AM EDT

Notre Dame’s men’s soccer squad continued spring play this past weekend with matches against Michigan and Oakland. The games were held at the massive Ultimate Soccer Arena in Pontiac, Michigan. The Irish fell to the Wolverines, 1-0, before rallying past Oakland, 2-1.

Unlike the team’s previous game against the Columbus Crew in which only starters and key reserves participated, every member of the Notre Dame roster played a considerable amount of minutes in one of the two games. Head coach Bobby Clark split his players into two equal teams and essentially let them play, substituting not once in either game.

Against Michigan, the Irish surrendered a goal off of a set piece by the Wolverines. Notre Dame had an abundance of chances to even the score, but numerous attempts by senior Leon Brown and sophomore Patrick Hodan proved unsuccessful. Clark was unconcerned about the final tally, instead focusing on the valuable repetitions gained by his younger athletes.

“It was good to see some of the younger players play a whole game,” Clark said. “Some of the young guys opened the game well. They lost a little confidence later on, but still kept battling.”

The Oakland game featured the return of junior striker Vince Cicciarelli, who broke his collarbone in the College Cup final. Cicciarelli quickly made up for lost time in the game’s opening minutes, volleying a cross from classmate Robby Gallegos into the back of the net to put the Irish ahead. The Golden Grizzlies knotted the score early in the second half, only to fall to Notre Dame on an own goal in the last ten seconds of the match.

Clark has preached all spring about the importance of tinkering with the lineup and giving a host of players a fair shot in filling some of the holes left from last year’s championship squad. On Saturday, he tried Hodan and Gallegos at the drop forward position formerly patrolled by Harry Shipp, now of the MLS’s Chicago Fire. Freshmen Mark Mishu, Matt Habrowski, and Brandon Aubrey all spent time in the center back slot last owned by the Colorado Rapids’ Grant Van de Casteele.

Notre Dame will take a bus to Evansville this weekend to play two games against the University of Evansville. The younger players will play in a 60 minute morning game, while the more experienced members of the Irish will compete in a 90 minute nightcap. The trip is a homecoming of sorts for junior defender Max Lachowecki, who starred at Evansville’s Reitz Memorial High School.

The team is hoping to get back junior midfielder Brendan Lesch this coming weekend. Lesch has been sidelined since he tore his ACL against Creighton in last year’s first preseason scrimmage.

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