Men's Soccer: Tandem goalkeepers defend Irish net
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09
It would seem to be a problem for a team to not have one elite goalkeeper who has played in every game. For most teams, lacking one elite goalkeeper is a problem. In the case of Notre Dame, it’s a good problem, as the Irish have two elite keepers.
The Irish can rest easy in any game, knowing either fifth-year senior Will Walsh or junior Patrick Wall has control of the goal.
Last season, as a senior, Walsh started every match and went 9-5-4 in the 18 matches. He had five shutouts with a 0.83 goals-against-average (GAA) and a .795 save percentage.
As a sophomore, Wall played in the last five minutes of the regular-season finale with the Irish up 4-0 against Seton Hall.
With another year of eligibility, Walsh seemed to be the clear shoo-in for starter at the keeper position. However, Irish coach Bobby Clark gave Wall a chance to prove himself in the offseason and then in the preseason games on a rotating basis with Walsh. After a sterling preseason performance, Clark has given him three starting nods this season and has consistently rotated the keepers.
“We started doing this in the preseason, and it seemed to work out,” Clark said. “Then we continued doing it into the season and they have both done really well.”
This season the duo has put up four clean sheets in eight matches — three belong to Walsh while one belongs to Wall. Prior to Louisville’s first goal on Saturday, Walsh and Wall had a combined scoreless streak of over 268 minutes. Walsh and Wall have given up only six goals and are 33rd in the country in goals-against-average of .74. On an individual basis, Walsh is 46th in the nation in goals-against-average with a mark of .80. The Notre Dame keeper tandem, along with the defense, is tied for 24th in the nation for shutout percentage with .50.
“It’s a nice thing for our team to have two really great keepers,” Clark said. “The goal keeping this season has been pretty solid. They both have done really well.”
Still refusing to commit to a single keeper, Clark kept his preferences quiet on who will be starting the next game.
“We evaluate during the week and we decide on a week-to-week basis,” Clark said.
The one certainty this Wednesday as the Irish take on Indiana is — whether it is Walsh or Wall in the goal — a formidable keeper will be waiting to meet the Hoosier offense.
Contact Isaac Lorton at firstname.lastname@example.org