Nov. 3, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 18 Notre Dame men's soccer team fell to Villanova, 1-0, in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship on Thursday evening at Alumni Stadium. Aaron Dennis scored the game's lone goal in the 35th minute.
The Fighting Irish were the No. 4 seed from the league's Blue Division, while Villanova is the No. 5 seed from the Red Division.
Notre Dame (9-5-4) controlled much of the match, including the majority of the second half, but could not find the back of the net. The Irish had a 16-10 shot advantage, including a 6-4 edge in shots on goal. Notre Dame also produced 11 corner kicks compared to two for Villanova.
The game's first shot on goal came from Notre Dame right back Michael Knapp in the 15th minute. His attempt on frame came from 12 yards out on the right side and was saved by Villanova goalkeeper John Fogarty.
Villanova (7-8-4) had two headers from close range saved by Irish goalkeeper Will Walsh within a 10-minute span in the first half. Walsh had three saves on the night, while Fogarty had six.
Arguably Notre Dame's best scoring chance of the match came in the 31st minute when sophomore forward Leon Brown had his shot from eight yards away deflected out of bounds by Fogarty, who had come off his line to make the save.
The Wildcats broke through when Dennis took a centering pass from Dylan Renna and scored from nine yards away.
Both teams had nine shots in the first half and the Fighting Irish would hold a 7-1 shot advantage in the second stanza. Notre Dame also had a 7-1 edge in corner kicks in the second period.
"We came out slow today, but we were superb in the second half," said Irish head coach Bobby Clark. "I felt we really controlled the second half, but unfortunately the game is two halves. We had one defensive lapse in the first period and they had really their only serious shot of the game and they put it in the net."
In the 58th minute, Irish midfielder Brendan King had his deep blast tipped out by Fogarty. The Fighting Irish had a flurry of corner kicks near the midway point of the second half, but could not capitalize on the set pieces.
"I was very proud with how we played in the second half," added Clark. "We played the game in their half (of the field). We had a good performance with everything except scoring goals. To be fair to them (Villanova), they defended well and their goalkeeper had a couple good saves."
The Fighting Irish will find out their NCAA Tournament fate when pairings for the 48-team field are announced on Monday, Nov. 14.
BIG EAST Championship First Round
Villanova (7-8-4) 1 0 - 1
Scoring: VU: Aaron Dennis (Dylan Renna) 34:37
Shots: VU 9-1 - 10, ND 9-7 - 16