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Notre Dame sneaks past rival Central 1-0 in soccer showdown
The Central Tigers and Notre Dame Bulldogs have struggled to find the back of the net all season.
So when the Bulldogs' Jonathan Lynch took a step toward the middle of the field and fired a bullet in the Tigers' net from 30 yards out Tuesday night, Notre Dame couldn't help but feel relieved.
"The way we're struggling to score goals, to get one early takes the pressure off," Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn said.
Notre Dame made the goal stand up as it defeated the rival Tigers 1-0 at Notre Dame.
"Playing Notre Dame at Notre Dame is always tough," Central coach Dan Martin said. "They have a good squad. They're tough. That first goal was phenomenal. That was 30 yards out and we had a freshman keeper back there. He wasn't expecting it and was playing off his line like he should have been. It was just a good shot."
Lynch took the ball on the right side of the field before beating his man and cutting it back toward the center. The junior midfielder then rifled a left-footed shot over Central's goalie's head and into the net.
"I saw space in the middle of the field and took a touch," Lynch said. "I took a peek at the goalie and saw he was off a little and just tried to put it on goal."
The goal was one of few good scoring chances throughout the game.
The first half saw both teams control possession evenly, with little offensive outburst.
"Central played with a lot of energy," Wittenborn said. "They played a smart game. They overloaded the midfield and disrupted our passing."
The Tigers put the pressure on after the half. Central controlled possession for the majority of the second half but never found the net despite playing with the benefit of a gusty wind.
Central's Calvin Lovig ripped a left-footed shot from 30 yards out that sailed just right of the goal 10 minutes into the second half.
The Tigers' best chance came with a minute to play.
A long ball bounced over the head of two Notre Dame defenders and Central's David Watts ran onto it at the right side of the 5-yard box. But his shot sailed high to seal the Bulldogs' win.
"Our backs are fine, our midfielders are fine, but we're still trying to link up top," Martin said. "That final third is where we struggle creating scoring opportunities."
The Bulldogs' defense was solid all night, winning the battle in the air and clearing the ball well.
"They have a solid back four," Martin said. "Their keeper is solid and they play a nice diamond and sustain pressure well."
Wittenborn credits the veteran leadership.
"We're a little more veteran in the back," Wittenborn said. "They're all playing well together, backing each other up and winning a lot of balls."
Lynch appreciates the defense's ability to hold leads considering the limited scoring.
"They are real good in the back," Lynch said. "We have a lot of seniors back there and other guys are stepping up and holding the fort down back there."