Nov. 14, 2008
TAMPA, Fla. – Two second-half goals from Francisco Aristeguieta propelled No. 8 South Florida past No. 9 Notre Dame, 2-1, in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship on Friday night at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium. Senior forward Bright Dike (Edmond, Okla./Edmond North) scored the lone goal for the Irish.
The Bulls (13-4-2) are the No. 2 seed from the Red Division, while the Fighting Irish (12-6-2) were the top seed from the Blue Division.
Things looked promising for the Irish in the early stages of the match. Notre Dame held a 6-4 edge in shots along with a 6-3 margin in corner kicks in the first half. A sequence following one of the corners nearly resulted in a goal as a Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) header hit off the post in the 12th minute of play.
The Irish got on the board in the 19th minute as sophomore forward Jeb Brovsky (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain) played the ball ahead to Dike and he put it past USF goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and into the lower right corner of the net from 15 yards out. The goal was Dike’s 12th of the season. The senior leads the BIG EAST in that category. For Brovsky, it was his team-leading sixth assist of the campaign.
“The opening 25 minutes were as good as we’ve played all season,” stated Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “We got a goal in that period and it looked pretty good.”
Notre Dame’s second shot on goal was a close look from Justin Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) that was saved by Attinella with 15:02 left in the opening period.
The Bulls threatened in the 33rd minute when a Javed Mohammed blast from the far left side hit off the crossbar. A late USF chance was negated as Irish goalkeeper Philip Tuttle (Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy) came out to intercept a cross. Notre Dame led 1-0 at the intermission.
Notre Dame tried to double its lead in the second half. With 31:48 remaining in regulation, Morrow headed a pass to Steven Perry (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness), who rocketed a shot over the crossbar.
USF deposited the equalizer in the 69th minute as Aristeguieta took a pass from Zak Boggs and connected on a shot from inside the left side of the 18-yard box. That was the first shot on goal for the Bulls.
“They (USF) got themselves back into the game with their first goal,” added Clark. “With the big crowd, they had momentum going for them. They fought themselves back into the game. The key goal was the second goal in the game. If we had gotten it, I think we would have been home and dry. But it turned out that they managed to get that goal. It was a disappointing result, but hopefully we learn from it.”
Aristeguieta scored again in the 82nd minute as he ripped a shot from just outside the 18-yard box and past a diving Tuttle.
Morrow threatened again with 5:31 left on the clock as he stole the ball and put a low shot just wide of the far post. The Irish out shot the Bulls 12-10 on the night. Notre Dame also edged South Florida in corner kicks, 8-7. Tuttle, a junior, made two saves, while Attinella had one stop.
The Fighting Irish now will await the NCAA Championship pairings, which will be released on Monday, Nov. 17. The selections will be announced live on ESPNews between 6 and 6:30 p.m. (ET).
#8 South Florida (13-4-2) 0 2 – 2
#9 Notre Dame (12-6-2) 1 0 – 1
Shots: USF 4-6 – 10, ND 6-6 – 12
Corner Kicks: USF 3-4 – 7, ND 6-2 – 8
Saves: USF 1 (Jeff Attinella 1); ND 2 (Philip Tuttle 2)
Fouls: USF 8, ND 11
Offsides: USF 1, ND 0