Nov. 14, 2003
The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team moved on to the BIG EAST Championship final with a gutsy 1-0 victory over Providence in brutal conditions in Storrs, Conn., on Friday evening. The Irish goal was provided by senior forward Justin Detter, his 12th of the season, off a set play in the 67th minute. Junior defender Kevin Goldthwaite contributed the assist on the play.
Notre Dame moves on to face either St. John’s or Rutgers, but the Irish will have plenty of movitation to face either team. Notre Dame is 14-3-3 on the season right now, with the Red Storm and Scarlet Knights responsible for two of those losses. The final is set for Sunday at 12 p.m. (live on MSG network and Fox Sports Florida) and Notre Dame will be making its second BIG EAST Championship final appearance.
“The team played superb considering the conditions,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said after the game.
“It was brutal for both teams out there. We did a very good job of playing soccer, keeping the ball on the field and controlling the tempo.”
The conditions to begin the game were brutal for both teams. A strong cross wind, averaging 15-20 mph, made the 32 degree temperatures seem far lower than the freezing point. Notre Dame would play with the wind to their backs for the first half.
The Irish put together the first dangerous scoring chance of the game, controlling the first five minutes of action. Kevin Goldthwaite stepped up for a corner kick and sent it into the center of the goal box. Christopher High moved up from his defensive position and got a head on it, but his deflection bounced straight down, then up over the cross bar at 4:00.
At the 12:00 minute mark, after Providence notched its first corner kick, Notre Dame moved back down the field and took three solid shots on goal from Greg Martin, Justin Detter and Filippo Chillemi. Chillemi’s was the most dangerous, as he deflected a cross from Chad Riley about five foot wide of the opposite post.
Later at 15:00, Martin took a great shot from the top of the penalty box that Jeff Newman was forced to make a jumping save to deflect it over the cross bar. The Martin effort came after a well-executed give-and-go between Chillemi and Goldthwaite.
Another good scoring chance for the Irish came with 10:00 in the first half. A nice give and go from Devon Prescod to Goldthwaite left the Irish defender in the penalty box unguarded, but a sliding tackle blocked his shot attempt.
Notre Dame kept the pressure on Providence throughout the first half, trying to get that go-ahead goal while playing with an ever-increasing wind at their backs. The Friars held strong, however, and entered halftime with a 0-0 score and the wind in their favor for the second half. The Irish came out aggressive in the second period, getting a solid scoring chance at the 48:00 minute mark. Prescod found Luke Boughen alone at the top of the penalty box after drawing the defense to the side, but Boughen’s shot ended up a foot over the cross bar for a goal kick.
The second half would prove a tough test for the Irish offense and defense. The Friars were taking advantage of the wind, as the gusts affected any ball hit into the air. Notre Dame would have to work the ball up the field on the ground almost exclusively, counting on teamwork to get the team a goal.
That teammwork almost came through at the 54-minute mark when Detter and Prescod worked back and forth through the Friar zone, each getting three touches. Prescod eventually ended up behind the defense, but Providence goalie Jeff Newman made a diving save to snuff out the scoring chance.
While Notre Dame continued to work into the wind, the defense kept the ball controlled and out of the hands of the Friar offense for the first 15 minutes of the second half. The lone Providence scoring opportunity came at 60:00, when Jeff Smith scooped up a bad pass from High and put a shot well over the goal from the 18-yard mark.
The 69:45 mark brought Notre Dame the set play opportunity it was looking for. Detter streaked behind the Friar defense and drew a yellow-card foul on Zachary Tobin. The Irish had a free kick at the 20-yard mark on the right side.
The Irish offense set up nicely and Goldthwaite found Detter behind the wall. He deflected the offering with his head into the top-right corner of the net, just out of the reach from Newman.
Now Notre Dame would have to challenge themselves to stay composed, not let down and make the one-goal lead hold up.
Providence would make the Irish a bit nervous at 73:00. The Friars sent a cross into the defense that Sawyer wanted to come out and snare, but he slipped in the box. Providence controlled the ball deep on the goal line, but Sawyer recovered to save the shot.
The best defense is a solid offense and Notre Dame continued to put immense pressure on the Providence defense, looking for an insurace goal. The Irish received several solid scoring attempts from Detter, Prescod and Goldthwaite over the last 15 minutes. The defense eventually snuffed out any other Friar scoring threats to end the game.
Coach Clark was quick to credit his defense and midfield after the game, as freshman Greg Dalby, junior back Jack Stewart and senior Chad Riley earned accolades from the Irish coach.