Oct. 8, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 11th-ranked Notre Dame men’s soccer team played No. 1 Connecticut to a scoreless draw in BIG EAST Blue Division action on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,943 fans at Alumni Stadium. The tie snapped Connecticut’s 11-game win streak.
Notre Dame (5-2-4, 1-1-1) outshot the Huskies 21-16, including a 9-4 edge in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish produced seven corner kicks compared to just one for UConn (11-0-1, 2-0-1).
Connecticut freshman Andre Blake made nine saves in goal, while Notre Dame senior Will Walsh had four saves to notch his fourth shutout of the season.
The Fighting Irish controlled possession for significant stretches of the match, including a good portion of the first half. Notre Dame outshot the Huskies 10-4 in the opening period.
Notre Dame’s first chance of the match occurred in the 17th minute as sophomore forward Leon Brown put a shot on frame that was stopped by a diving Blake. In the 28th minute, Blake dove and deflected an Adam Mena shot from 15 yards out and the Connecticut goalkeeper then cleared the ball out of play.
Fighting Irish junior forward Ryan Finley had two shots saved in the final 10 minutes of the first half. The second attempt occurred at the two-minute mark as senior right back Michael Knapp sent a nice cross into the box and Blake secured Finley’s point-blank shot.
Finley had a game-high seven shots, including four on goal. Mena had three shots on frame.
“We ran into a very good goalkeeper today,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “We had great shots. We had good looks from right inside the box and he (Andre Blake) came up big every time. That was disappointing for us. I’m sure he (Blake) must be one of the reasons why they’re undefeated and have done so well this season.”
The Huskies produced the first scoring chance of the second half early in the stanza when Tony Cascio blasted a shot from 20 yards out that went wide of the far post. Cascio had another attempt sail wide right from 17 yards away in the 75th minute.
On the other end of the pitch, a diving Blake denied Finley’s 16-yard shot in the 78th minute. Finley continued to pressure and it looked as though the Irish would break through in the 80th minute, but the junior’s shot hit the left post from 17 yards away.
Notre Dame outshot Connecticut 4-3 in the 20 minutes of overtime play. Mena had the best attempt in the first overtime, but Blake made the save with nearly four minutes elapsed in the extra session.
The best chance for the Irish in the second overtime occurred midway through the period as Knapp sent another great cross into Finley, but Blake was there once again for the save. The final chance for either team came with 1:15 remaining as Mamadou Diouf sent his free kick, which was placed just outside the 18-yard box, wide of the near post.
Notre Dame has played seven overtime matches this season. The Irish are 1-2-4 in those contests. This was Notre Dame’s fourth straight match against Connecticut that went to overtime. The two teams have split those decisions, 1-1-2.
Senior midfielder Michael Rose made his season debut for the Fighting Irish. Rose missed the first 10 games of the season as he was recovering from a knee injury suffered in the spring. He played the entire second half.
“I thought we played well today,” added Clark. “I thought our concentration was superb throughout. It was really hard to find a flaw in our team. All of our subs came on and gave us a lift. It was really great to get Michael Rose in there. It’s fantastic to have him back.”
The Fighting Irish return to action on Wednesday at Marquette. The BIG EAST Blue Division match gets underway at 7:00 p.m. (CT).
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
October 8, 2011
#1 Connecticut (11-0-1, 2-0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
#11 Notre Dame (5-2-4, 1-1-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shots: UC 4-9-1-2 – 16, ND 10-7-1-3 – 21
Corner Kicks: UC 1-0-0-0 – 1, ND 3-2-2-0 – 7
Goalkeepers: UC: Andre Blake – 9 SV, 0 GA, 110:00, T
ND: Will Walsh – 4 SV, 0 GA, 110:00, T
Fouls: UC 16, ND 12
Offsides: UC 0, ND 3