Aug 16, 2012, 11:37 PM EDT
For a pre-season game, this was a perfect environment. There must have been around 4,000 fans in the stands although, if truth be said, many of them were supporting our south of the border opponents. For Notre Dame, it was a fun atmosphere as we were playing a professional team in a noisy, vuvuzela-filled arena. Perhaps it was a bit early in our pre-season preparation for a match of this intensity, but it was a great test and the team came through with flying colors.
Make no mistake about it, Chivas are an excellent team. All their players were very highly skilled and there were extended periods when they possessed the ball superbly. The positive for Notre Dame was that most of this possession was in front of them and the Mexicans never really looked like penetrating. The Irish defense and midfield really moved together in unison and never allowed them any holes through which to penetrate. The longer the match went on, the more comfortable Notre Dame looked, and it was not a complete surprise when Harry Shipp sprung Ryan Finley with a beautiful through pass which Ryan coolly slotted low past the advancing Mexican goalkeeper.
Just when it looked as though we were going to mirror team USA from the previous night’s game in the Azteca, and sneak out with a nice 1-0 victory, Chivas pulled one back. It came from a free kick out on our left flank. A hard curling cross was flicked on at the near post and it found its way in at the far post. The rest of the game see-sawed back and forward and the nearest anyone came to breaking the deadlock was a Nick Besler header that was cleared off the Mexican goal line. All in all, possibly a fair result but, most importantly it was a great test for Notre Dame as we prepare for the new season.
Next up is Xavier on Monday. This is our annual Grassroot Game where we ask for donations at the gate and all collected monies will be donated to Grassroot Soccer, an HIV educational foundation that works in sub-Saharan Africa. The total donations will then be matched by Notre Dame Men’s Soccer camps…….so hopefully we get a huge turnout with plenty of donations so we can help this very worthy cause!
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