Nov. 9, 2003
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (13-3-3) moved on to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals with an impressive 2-0 victory over #25 Connecticut (8-8-3) on Sunday afternoon. The fifth-ranked Irish dominated ball control for most of the contest, eventually out-shooting the visiting Huskies 15-8 and earning 11 corner kicks to just one for UConn.
Notre Dame’s two top scorers from the season, seniors Devon Prescod and Justin Detter, provided the offensive work for the team. After both teams spent the first 45 minutes probing the opposing defenses, Notre Dame scored in the 63rd minute when junior defender Kevin Goldthwaite smashed a shot at Connecticut goalkeeper Adam Schuerman from the left sideline. Schuerman made the save but senior captain Greg Martin (who had just returned to the line up in the second half) kept the ball alive for Prescod – who drove it past Schuerman for his 11th goal of the season. Both Goldthwaite and Martin picked up assists on the momentum-swinging score.
The Irish continued to put pressure on the Connecticut defense, which seemed to fall back on its heels a bit after the first score. Martin took over for a portion of the game, terrorizing the right side of the Husky defense. In the 77th minute, he broke forward and sent a perfect cross into the penalty area. Detter out-jumped the Connecticut defenders and drove a header past Schuerman for an important insurance goal.
While Notre Dame was coming up with 15 shots in the contest, the Irish defense was keeping Connecticut from mounting any serious or sustained pressure. UConn leading scorer Steve Sealy was held to two shots and missed the only dangerous opportunity for the Huskies in the first half. Sealy was able to streak through the Notre Dame defense just 20 minutes into the contest and Irish goalkeeper Chris Sawyer was forced to come out and challenge him. Sealy attempted to chip the ball over Sawyer’s save attempt, but the ball stayed up and cleared the cross bar.
Speaking of Sawyer, the Irish keeper picks up his 11th shutout of the season, making two saves against Connecticut. Schuerman made three saves for Connecticut.
Notre Dame, the third seed in the championship, will move on to face Providence on Friday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m. in Storrs, Conn. The Friars knocked off second-seeded Virginia Tech 4-2 on corner kicks after the team battled to a 2-2 tie in regulation and overtime. Notre Dame posted a 2-0 victory at Providence on Oct. 22. The #1 seed St. John’s and #4 Rutgers will meet in the other semifinal, after both teams advanced on overtime goals Saturday evening.
Notre Dame’s victory was truly a team effort on Sunday. Due to injuries, cold weather and the desire to keep the players fresh, Irish head coach Bobby Clark utilized a 15-player rotation. John Stephens was in the starting line up and played well in the midfield, while Christopher High continued to play well in the back. Chad Riley returned from his injury to start the contest, but did not play in the second half. Stephens, Ian Etherington, Luke Boughen and Nate Norman all combined to take up the slack in the midfield.