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Irish face Providence in semifinals of Big East

Pat Leonard | Friday, November 14, 2003

After a dominating 2-0 home victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team (13-3-3, 7-3-1 Big East) travels east to challenge for the conference championship in Storrs, Conn. The third-seeded Irish will take on seven-seed Providence (6-9-3) in the first semifinal game Friday at 5 p.m. in Storrs, Conn.

No. 1 seed St. John’s and No. 4 seed Rutgers will play following the Notre Dame match.

Last season, Georgetown ousted the Irish from the tournament by a score of 2-1 in a quarterfinal game. Counting the convincing win over the Huskies, however, the Irish are now 6-5 all-time in Big East championship competition. They have reached the semifinals of the tournament three times: in 1996, 1997 and 2001. Notre Dame’s lone title came in 1996.

Providence upset No. 2 seed Virginia Tech in its quarterfinal match, 4-2, on penalty kicks to reach the semifinals.

Notre Dame enters Friday’s match on a five-game winning streak that began with a win over Providence on Oct. 22.

The Irish out shot the Friars 15-6 in a 2-0 shutout victory at Glay Field. Captain and senior midfielder Greg Martin opened scoring 1:40 into the contest on a head ball off a set up from junior defenseman Kevin Goldthwaite. Providence was overmatched, committing 14 fouls to just one for the Irish, and forward Devon Prescod put the game away late with a goal of his own.

Prescod leads all Irish players with 12 goals, his twelfth coming in the quarterfinal match against Connecticut. The high point man on the team is senior forward Justin Detter, who after also tallying against the Huskies has 11 goals and four assists for 26 points.

Providence will try to answer the Prescod/Detter attack with sophomore forward Eoin Lynch, who leads the Friars in scoring with 17 points and eight goals.

Goalie Chris Sawyer – recently named the College Soccer News National Player of the

Week – and the defense have limited teams to one or zero goals in 17 of 19 games. Players in the back like juniors Goldthwaite and Jack Stewart have prevented many opposing forwards from even getting through to Sawyer. Freshman Greg Dalby, senior Kevin Richards and junior Christopher High will also have to maintain their stellar play of late.

Notre Dame is 7-2-0 in the all-time series. Coach Bobby Clark has never lost to Providence with the Irish. The last time Notre Dame lost to the Friars was in 2000, also the last time the Irish finished below .500 (7-8-2).

Providence is also just 1-4-2 against ranked teams this season. Notre Dame presently sits at No. 5 in the nation.

St. John’s vs. Rutgers

In the other semifinal match, No. 1 St. John’s (14-4-1) will try to fend off No. 4 Rutgers (10-6-3).

Both teams scored in overtime of their quarterfinal matches to advance. St. John’s beat eight-seed Villanova, 2-1, while Rutgers defeated No. 5 Seton Hall, 1-0.

St. John’s hopes not to follow some foreboding Big East tradition. Since the Big East tournament began including eight teams in 1995, only once has the top seed won the Big East tournament. Last season, top-seed Boston College defeated Connecticut, 3-2, for the title.

In addition, in the eight championship tournaments since 1995, the top-seed has advanced to the title game only three times (St. John’s 1997, Connecticut 2001, Boston College 2002).

Rutgers has played in the conference postseason tournament every season since joining the league in 1995. The Scarlet Knights advance to the semifinals for the eighth time in nine appearances.

St. John’s and Rutgers each defeated Notre Dame this season by a combined score of 8-2.

Coverage

On Saturday, Nov. 15, College Sports Television will air the Big East men’s soccer championship semifinals. The first will air at 2:30 p.m. The second will air at 5 p.m.