Oct. 31, 2003
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team (11-3-3, 6-3-1) earned a key BIG EAST Conference victory 2-0 over Villanova (9-7-1, 4-6-0) on Friday evening at Alumni Field. It was senior night, the final regular-season home game for seven Irish players, two of which provided the goals for Notre Dame. Devon Prescod broke a scoreless tie early in the second half with his 10th goal of the year and Justin Detter provided an insurance goal in the game’s final 10 minutes.
The victory gives Notre Dame 19 points in the BIG EAST standings, ensuring them at least fourth place in the final league rankings. Just which team the Irish will play, and when they will meet at Alumni Field next weekend, will be announced once all conference play is completed this weekend.
Notre Dame still has regular-season work ahead as well. The Irish head to East Lansing, Mich., late Friday evening to take on Michigan State Sunday at 1 p.m.
Villanova came into Friday night’s game needed a victory to solidify a spot in the BIG EAST Championship. The Wildcats were able to control much of the action early in the contest, as Notre Dame juggled its line up due to an injury for senior midfielder Chad Riley.
After Villanova posted five shots in the first half to just two for the home team, Notre Dame came out focused and aggressive in the second half. Freshman Ian Etherington, who has played significant minutes the entire season, seemed determined to take on the role of playmaker with Riley on the sidelines. He set up Prescod’s first goal with an aggressive attack up the left side, finding his teammate in the penalty area. Prescod calmly trapped the ball with his chest, whirled around and blasted a shot past Villanova goalkeeper Craig Bald at 52:47.
The Irish drawing first blood seemed to motivate the entire Notre Dame lineup to get an insurance goal. After a number of solid scoring chances, Etherington played a role in his second goal of the evening.
Chasing down a ball on the right sideline this time, Etherington drove all the way down to the Villanova goal line before finding Detter in the heart of the Wildcat defense. Somehow, Notre Dame’s dangerous striker found room to trap the ball and drill a shot to the opposite post that Bald was unable to get a hand on.
Etherington’s two assists in the game are the first two of his career.
The game was physical throughout, with the teams ending up getting whistled for 34 fouls. Chris Sawyer made three saves in goal for Notre Dame, while Bald allowed two goals and posted four saves. Sawyer has now limited Notre Dame’s opponents to one or zero goals in 15 of 17 matches this season and earns his eighth shut out of the year. Villanova led the game in shots 11-7, and corner kicks were even 6-6.