Senior defender John Schaefer put Notre Dame on the board in the 83rd minute.

Irish Season Ends With 3-1 Setback At Northwestern In NCAA Second Round

Nov. 22, 2009

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EVANSTON, Ill. – The No. 19 Notre Dame men’s soccer team fell to No. 18 Northwestern 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Field. The Fighting Irish out shot the Wildcats 21-8 yet saw their season end with an 11-8-4 record.

Northwestern (11-4-4) is the ninth seed in the tournament, while Notre Dame was unseeded. Jack Hillgard scored two goals for the Wildcats, while Piero Bellizzi had the third tally. Senior defender John Schaefer (Troy, Mich./Detroit Jesuit) netted the lone Irish goal.

The first shot of the match came from Notre Dame’s Tamba Samba (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis) with 29:42 remaining in the opening half as he sent the ball wide of the goal from near the top of the 18-yard box. Notre Dame had 12 shots on goal, while Northwestern scored on all three of their shots on frame.

Northwestern then threatened on their end of the pitch as a Bellizzi header was blocked and the follow-up shot from Eamon O’Neill was deflected over the crossbar. The ensuring corner kick from Bellizzi was knocked around and then headed in by Hillgard to put the Wildcats up 1-0 in the 18th minute.

Notre Dame’s Brendan King (Naperville, Ill./Edison Academic Center (Fla.)) sent a shot on frame from 18 yards out on the left side that was saved by Northwestern goalkeeper Misha Rosenthal with 10:25 left in the first half. Rosenthal had 11 saves in the match. King pressured again two minutes later yet sent a shot high of the crossbar.

Chris Ritter had the last good look of the first half for Northwestern as he sent a shot wide with 20 seconds remaining. The Fighting Irish out shot the Wildcats 4-3 in the opening stanza.

The Fighting Irish had the first shot of the second half as junior midfielder Matt Armstrong (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon) sent the ball right to Rosenthal from 20 yards away less than three minutes into the period. Notre Dame out shot Northwestern 17-5 in the second half. The Irish earned all 10 of their corner kicks in the second half. The Wildcats had two corner kicks for the match.

“I thought the second half for us was unbelievable,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “They (Northwestern) had maybe three good attempts in the game and they put them all in. It really was an amazing game. I don’t know when I’ve seen a game where we’ve dominated that much but came up short. Full marks to Northwestern. Their goalkeeper played exceptionally well.”

Hillgard scored again for the Wildcats as he headed in a feed from O’Neill to make it 2-0 in the 54th minute. Matt Eliason also collected an assist on the play.

The Irish upped their pressure and nearly connected on multiple scoring chances during the remainder of the match. Senior forward Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North) almost put Notre Dame on the board with 35:32 left in the second half as he sent a cross from Justin Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) just wide of the near post.

Freshman midfielder Dillon Powers (Plano, Texas/Plano Senior) had his shot deflected just wide of the post with 34 minutes showing on the clock. King, a sophomore midfielder, then put a long shot on frame that was saved.

With just under 30 minutes left in the match, Rosenthal saved a Michael Thomas (Olathe, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas) free kick from 25 yards away. Powers nearly scored with 26:20 remaining but he could not get a good foot on a pass from King and sent the ball wide.

Northwestern made it 3-0 in the 67th minute as Bellizzi deposited a goal with Irish goalkeeper Andrew Quinn (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) off his line. O’Neill assisted on the tally.

Despite being down by three, Notre Dame continued to dominate possession and create scoring opportunities. A diving save from Rosenthal was needed to negate a scoring chance from junior midfielder Jeb Brovsky (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain) with just under 23 minutes remaining in the period. Another diving save from Rosenthal was needed on a Brovsky blast with 12:45 left in the second stanza.

A Powers shot was punched over the crossbar by a leaping Rosenthal with 9:20 left in the period. Rosenthal came through again seconds later with a diving save on a shot from Armstrong.

The Notre Dame pressure paid off in the 83rd minute when Schaefer deposited his second goal of the season with the assists to Dike and Steven Perry (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness). The Irish continued to attack until the final seconds ticked off the clock, yet could not produce another tally.

“It was a solid season for us,” commented Clark. “I felt we had so much potential to go further, but we came up short. It’s difficult because the effort from the seniors and the whole team, especially in the second half today, was outstanding. I’ve never been more proud of a team and that’s what I told them after the game. For some reason it just didn’t fall for us.”

NCAA Championship Second Round
Lakeside Field • Evanston, Ill.
November 22, 2009

#19 Notre Dame (11-8-4) 0 1 – 1
#18 Northwestern (11-4-4) 1 2 – 3

NW: Jack Hillgard (unassisted) 17:59; NW: Jack Hillgard (Eamon O’Neill, Matt Eliason) 53:24; NW: Piero Bellizzi (Eamon O’Neill) 66:38; ND: John Schaefer (Bright Dike, Steven Perry) 82:23

Shots: ND 4-17 – 21, NW 3-5 – 8
Corner Kicks: ND 0-10 – 10, NW 2-0 – 2
Saves: ND 0 (Andrew Quinn – 90:00 – 3 ga – 0 svs – L); NW 11 (Misha Rosenthal – 90:00 – 1 ga – 11 svs. – W)
Fouls: ND 7, NW 7
Offsides: ND 1, NW 0