Nov. 9, 2012
CHESTER, Pa. - A goal in the 11th minute from senior midfielder Dillon Powers proved to be the difference as the No. 5 Notre Dame men's soccer team defeated No. 8 Connecticut, 1-0, on Friday night in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship at PPL Park. The Fighting Irish will face No. 6 Georgetown at noon (ET) on Sunday in the title game of the league tournament.
The goal was assisted by junior forward Alex Priede, who possessed the ball near the right end line and found Powers in the center of the penalty box and the senior captain buried his fifth goal of the season past BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake.
"Right after we lost the ball, we re-pressured and got it back and the ball got flipped in down the right side and I followed in the box. Alex (Priede) cut the ball back and (Notre Dame forward) Leon (Brown) left it and I put it in the corner," said Powers about the goal. "It was a great cross from Alex."
Notre Dame (15-3-1) threatened again in the 16th minute when sophomore left back Max Lachowecki placed a header on frame from 12 yards out that was saved by Blake. Notre Dame controlled much of the possession in the first half and outshot the Huskies 7-2 in the stanza.
Connecticut (15-3-1) had its first good chance of the match come in the 31st minute when Mamadou Diouf sent a shot wide of the near post from 14 yards away. Fighting Irish goalkeeper Will Walsh made his first save of the contest late in the first half off a header from Nicholas Zuniga.
Notre Dame freshman midfielder Patrick Hodan had the first shot for either team in the second half. His attempt from 20 yards away in the 52nd minute was placed just wide of the far post. Connecticut's first shot of the second half came minutes later when Diouf sailed a blast high from distance.
In the 74th minute, Diouf received a cross inside the box and headed the ball into the side netting. Notre Dame midfielder Danny O'Leary sent the ball just wide from distance in the 79th minute.
Fighting Irish senior forward Ryan Finley, the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, had a game-high six shots, including three on goal. Notre Dame held a 13-7 shot advantage for the match. The Irish also had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.
Walsh, a senior, made two saves on the night to earn his fifth clean sheet of the season and improve his record to 7-2-1 on the campaign. It was the eighth shutout of the season for the Irish. Blake had four stops for Connecticut.
"This was a very hard-fought contest," said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. "It was two good teams with a lot of talented players from both teams. It was a good advertisement for BIG EAST soccer and we were fortunate to get the goal and win the game. It was a very good game."
The Fighting Irish have not been shutout this season and they are 12-0-0 when scoring first in a match.
All four BIG EAST semifinalists are from the Blue Division. The Fighting Irish are the division's No. 3 seed, while the Huskies are the top seed. Georgetown and Marquette were the second and fourth seeds, respectively. The Hoyas defeated the Golden Eagles, 2-1 in double-overtime, in Friday's first semifinal.
Notre Dame is in pursuit of its third BIG EAST Championship title. The Irish won the tournament crown in 1996 and 2003.
Notre Dame topped Georgetown, 3-0, on Oct. 6 at Alumni Stadium. Sunday's title game will air live on BIG EAST Television (check local listings).
BIG EAST Championship Semifinal
#5 Notre Dame (15-3-1) 1 0 - 1
Shots: ND 7-6 - 13, UC 2-5 - 7