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Men’s Soccer: ND battles Marquette to tie

Joseph Monardo | Monday, October 29, 2012

One of the primary goals of Notre Dame’s season remained just out of reach Saturday, as the No. 7 Irish played to a 1-1 draw with No. 3 Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisc., in the squad’s regular-season finale.

Irish senior forward Ryan Finley scored the tying goal in the 88th minute for his 17th score of the season. The tie denied Notre Dame (13-3-1, 5-2-1 Big East) a share of the Big East regular season title and seeded the Irish as the third in the conference’s Blue Division.

“[I’m] obviously disappointed we didn’t get a win and a share of a championship,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Having said that, getting a tie on the road against a top-ranked team isn’t the end of the world. I think this game hopefully can prepare us for … NCAA games. So this certainly was far from a disaster, but it was still a little bit disappointing.”

The game was the final installment of a double-header against Marquette (14-2-1, 5-2-1). Notre Dame won the first contest, 3-1, in Alumni Stadium on Wednesday.

Following almost the same script as Wednesday’s contest, Marquette redshirt freshman defender Axel Sjoberg put the Golden Eagles on the board in the 29th minute. Sjoberg scored Marquette’s lone goal against the Irish on Wednesday in the 25th minute. On Saturday the 6-foot-7 defender netted the go-ahead goal off a rebound from a shot saved by Irish senior goalkeeper Will Walsh.

“Well, he had a fantastic save, that’s how the rebound came out and they scored their goal,” Clark said. “But he had a terrific save there, and another good save later in the game when he put a header over the crossbar.”

Walsh recorded a career-high eight saves in the game, while Marquette redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Charlie Lyon used five saves to keep Notre Dame off the scoreboard for much of the game.

“Both goalkeepers were outstanding, actually,” Clark said. “It was a pretty good [advertisement] for college soccer, there was a lot of neat things happening. As I said, we could have won the game but so could they, in fairness.”

Finley finally put the Irish on the board in the game’s closing minutes when he sent a loose ball past Lyon and into the Marquette net from the top of the penalty box. The goal was Finley’s 11th in the past seven contests and secured his stance atop the league leaders in the category.

The goal came despite difficult conditions on the field, Clark said.

“[Finley] did well, a lot of the guys did well,” he said. “It was a difficult field. You don’t like to make excuses, but the thing their coach said to me was he apologized for the field at the start of the game when I met him. The field was very [slippery], a bit bumpy. It wasn’t a field that would allow too much good soccer, but I thought we actually did a good job on it.”

Finley and Irish junior forward Harrison Shipp both put shots on net early in the overtime periods, but neither team was able to break the tie after 110 minutes of play. Clark said several Irish players performed particularly well in the match.

“I thought [sophomore midfielder] Nick Besler was superb,” he said. “I thought, for me, he was just winning balls … The player that I thought really did well yesterday – the two boys who did well actually, shared the left side – [were senior midfielders] Kyle Richard and Bob Novak. Bob started the game and really did well, and then Kyle came on and I thought Kyle had a really good game, maybe one of his best games, so hopefully he’s coming into form. We really need good production from out in that left midfield position.”

The Irish will face Syracuse in the first round of the Big East tournament on Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y. The Orange (12-5-0, 5-3-0) are the No. 2 seed in the conference’s Red Division.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu