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Irish men follow in women's footsteps
December 16th, 2013 1:32AM

TAGS:  college men, college women


[NOTRE DAME-MARYLAND: Reaction] Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said the Men's College Cup final wasn't the prettiest game he has ever seen, but the Fighting Irish's 2-1 win over Maryland was a good game under the circumstances.

"I think it's hard to play two games of that intensity in a period of two or three days," he said, "but I thought both teams put in a good shift. I know our guys worked terribly hard; I think the last 10 minutes, we were certainly working very hard."

Clark getting a quick equalizer made all the difference.

"When we lost our big striker [Vince Cicciarelli] with a broken collarbone," he said,  "that was a blow, but Leon Brown came in and got the equalizing goal. We went behind, and that was definitely a blow, but we equalized fairly quickly, and that was Leon that did that."

The winner came on a header from defender Andrew O'Malley in the 60th minute.

"He missed a few all season, I can tell you," said Clark, "but he saved that goal for the right time. It was a great goal. it would have been nice, we'd had a couple of chance to make it 3-1 just after that, but we somehow scorned these and I think they just tried to add to my gray hairs. All in all, it was a great win for us against a very good team, and it finishes off the season very nicely for us."

The title came a year after the Irish, who featured 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers, lost to eventual champion Indiana in the round of 16.

"Last year's team was capable," said Clark. "If we win that game, possibly we could go on and have won the national championship last year. Maybe, maybe not. I think last season was a successful season, but the guys just felt that they didn't perform in the game against Indiana, and I think that was good inspiration to them. It was motivation for them. We've been knocking on the door [the last few years]."

The title came three years after the Irish women on their third national title, making Notre Dame one of just four schools to have won a national championship in men's and women's soccer, joining North Carolina, Santa Clara and UCLA.

"Seeing [the women's team] win our freshman year," said Irish star Harrison Shipp, "it almost makes you -- I don't know if jealous is the right word -- but it makes you want to experience that same feeling. I think witnessing that firsthand and the excitement of people watching on campus. I remember being in the dorms and everyone on campus was watching it, even if they didn't follow women's soccer throughout the whole year. I hope that people back on campus really followed us over the last five games, and especially here at the College Cup. I think that's something that we wanted to strive for and hopefully reached."

Shipp saluted the 67-year-old Clark, who won his first title.

"I think he's probably the most underappreciated college soccer coach in the country, in terms of lessons he teaches you on the field and off the field," he said. "I can tell you that I'm a much better person and player than I was three and a half years ago when I came in."

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