Nov. 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two second-half goals from Oliver Kupe helped Northwestern overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit and capture a 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Tuesday night at a cold Alumni Field. Kupe scored the game winner with 1:14 left in the match.
Notre Dame (12-7-2), the 12th seed in the tournament, pressured Northwestern throughout the first half and claimed an 11-4 shot advantage in the stanza. The Fighting Irish jumped ahead in the 24th minute as senior defender Jack Traynor (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) blasted the ball into the far netting from near the top of the 18-yard box off a feed from Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas). The goal was the first of the season for Traynor and the second of his career.
The Irish threatened again with just over seven minutes remaining in the opening half as Thomas sent a shot off the far post from near the endline and then a Dave Donohue (Reading, Mass./Cushing Academy) follow-up shot was saved by Wildcat goalkeeper Misha Rosenthal.
Northwestern (14-4-3) had a chance of its own late in the period as a Eamon O'Neill shot was blocked away by Irish defender Alex Yoshinaga (San Diego, Calif./Granite Hills). Notre Dame led 1-0 at the break.
"I thought we played exceptionally well in the first half," said Irish head coach Bobby Clark. "I also thought we played well in the first part of the second half. They scored the goal and they certainly got into the game. They finished the game very strongly. We had our opportunities. We needed to get a second goal."
The Wildcats upped their pressure in the second half as they gained three more shots (7-4) than the Irish. Kupe netted the equalizer in the 66th minute as he took a thru ball from Brian Usinger and deposited it past Notre Dame goalkeeper Philip Tuttle (Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy).
With the match appearing destined for overtime, Usinger connected with Kupe again in the 89th minute to send Northwestern on to the third round.
"(Kupe) came on and caused trouble for us," added Clark. "We had a little bit of a problem with getting our feet in the back at that time. They pressed forward and it was a very good win for them."
Rosenthal made seven saves in the win, while Tuttle had two. Notre Dame held a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. All five Irish corners came in the second half.
The loss snapped a 13-game home unbeaten streak for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame was 9-0-1 at home this season prior to tonight. The result also prevented Notre Dame from reaching the NCAA Round of 16 for the fourth straight season.
"I obviously feel sorry for the seniors," commented Clark. "They've had a great career. This is the first time they've fallen in the second round. It's always tough when that happens. This group of guys have worked so hard over the past four years and this year they have been superb. It's been a great senior class. I felt we deserved more, but soccer can be a cruel game sometimes."
NCAA Championship Second Round
Alumni Field Notre Dame, Ind.
#16 Northwestern (14-4-3) 0 2 - 2
#13 Notre Dame (12-7-2) 1 0 - 1
Shots: NW 4-7 - 11, ND 11-4 - 15
Corner Kicks: NW 3-1 - 4, ND 0-5 - 5
Saves: NW 7 (Misha Rosenthal 7); ND 2 (Philip Tuttle 2)
Fouls: NW 7, ND 12
Offsides: NW 2, ND 0