Nov. 11, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman Josh Thiermann (Stoughton, Wis./Stoughton) scored his first goal of the season to send the No. 11 Notre Dame men's soccer team past St. John's, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field. The Fighting Irish will face DePaul in the semifinal round in Storrs, Conn. on Friday, Nov. 16. at 5:00 p.m. (ET).
Notre Dame (11-3-5) will be making its fifth semifinal appearance in the BIG EAST tournament. The last time the Irish were in the final four of the league championship was in 2003 when they captured the program's second BIG EAST tournament crown.
The Fighting Irish were in control throughout Sunday's match. An early strike from Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) off a Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) throw-in nearly put the Irish on board in the first minute of play. Later in the first half, Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Cathlolic) had consecutive shots saved by St. John's (9-7-5) goalkeeper Jason Landers, who made six saves on the day.
Notre Dame out shot St. John's 7-1 in the first half and 15-2 for the entire match. The Irish also produced one more corner kick than the Red Storm (4-3). The game was knotted, 0-0, at halftime.
"I thought this was a very good performance for us," said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. "To out shoot St. John's 15-2 is a tribute to how we controlled the game. More importantly is how we limited their chances. They are a very well coached and organized team."
Following a scoreless first half, the Irish came out attacking in the second period. Lapira almost found the back of the net with 32:10 remaining, yet his shot was deflected wide. Lapira and junior defender Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North), who was making his first appearance in the lineup since getting injured against Indiana on Oct. 17, led the Irish with five shots apiece.
With just under 18 minutes left in regulation, Lapira sent a shot into the box that was miscleared by the St. John's defense and Thiermann deposited the ball to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead. The Notre Dame defense posted its 10th shutout of the season, while senior goalkeeper Chris Cahill (Louisville, Ky./DeSales) notched his eighth blanking of the campaign.
Notre Dame is the No. 2 seed out of the BIG EAST Blue Division, while DePaul is the top seed from the Red Division. The Irish and Blue Demons have not met this season. Notre Dame topped DePaul twice last year. The other semifinal on Friday will pit Connecticut against Louisville. Connecticut is the No. 1 seed from the Blue Division and Louisville is the second seed from the Red Division.
"It's great to get back to the final four of the BIG EAST tournament," commented Clark. "The last time we were there, we won it all. Let's hope for more of the same next weekend."
To stay up to date on the Notre Dame men's soccer team, log onto und.com or call the official Notre Dame athletics hotline at (574) 631-3000.
BIG EAST Championship Quarterfinals
St. John's (9-7-5) 0 0 - 0
ND: Josh Thiermann 72:14
Shots: SJ 1-1 - 2, ND 7-8 - 15