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Men’s Soccer: Irish fall to St. John’s in shootout

Michael Blasco | Monday, November 16, 2009

For the Irish, the third time is not the charm.

No. 25 Notre Dame (10-7-4, 8-3-1 Big East) fell 5-3 to No. 14 St. John’s (9-2-9, 6-1-5) in penalty kicks after drawing 0-0 in regular time in the Big East Tournament Finals. The match was the third game of the tournament decided by penalty kicks for the Irish, who downed South Florida and Louisville in earlier play. 

 “We’re disappointed, very disappointed,” ninth-year Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “That’s two runner-ups between finishing second in the regular season and now in the tournament, so we’re disappointed. I think we wanted to get a winner.”

Despite the result, the Irish controlled the tempo of play throughout much of the match. Notre Dame outshot the Red Storm 15-9, including 11-4 in the second half and overtime.

“[St. John’s] doesn’t give up a lot of goals,” Clark said. “In good soccer, it’s not easy to score goals. Today, it was two good teams, certainly two of the best teams in the Big East. It was a hard fought match, and I thought we carried the game.”

Senior forward and Big East Offensive Player of the Year Bright Dike came off the bench for the Irish, tallying six shots and three shots on goal in 81 minutes. After receiving a yellow card in the 30th minute, Dike appeared frustrated at times with the physical play of the Red Storm defense.

Senior goalkeeper Derby Carrillo had four saves for St. John’s, including a spectacular fingertip save of a Dike header in the 56th minute. Carrillo’s play extended St. John’s shutout streak to 510 minutes.

While the match began slowly, with each side testing the other’s defense, the Notre Dame offense took control in the second half. The Red Storm were unable to mount any sustained offensive pressure, in large part due to the excellent goalkeeping of senior Andrew Quinn.

However, the Irish were unable to force a ball home in either regular time or overtime, and Notre Dame headed to penalty kicks for the third consecutive match.

 “Looking at all three games, we were not trying to go to penalty kicks, playing the way we were,” Clark said. “We were pushing and making moves and trying to win to the last. You can push and huff and puff, but if you can’t get it into the net, you end up gambling in penalties. That’s soccer.”

After both teams made their opening penalty kick attempts, senior Irish midfielder Michael Thomas’s shot was shoved wide on a dive by Carrillo.

On the ensuing St. John’s attempt, Quinn guessed correctly but watched sophomore midfielder Bjorn De Hoop’s shot slice just past his outstretched hands.

Each team made the remainder of their shots, but Carrillo’s save was the decider.

Notre Dame’s performance in the tournament almost certainly locked up an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish will learn their fate this evening when the tournament selections are announced at 5:30 p.m.

“Now, the NCAA Tournament is our target,” Clark said. “The nice thing is we’re moving nicely into the tournament, and we’re hungry.”