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ND Men’s Soccer: Irish meet Cardinals in quarterfinals

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 7, 2008

For No. 11 Notre Dame to avoid bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, the Irish (11-5-2, 7-2-2 Big East) will have to avenge one of their two conference losses with a home win against Louisville tomorrow night.

The Cardinals (11-6-2, 5-5-1 Big East) edged the Irish 2-1 in overtime on Sept. 28 and beat West Virginia 2-0 Wednesday to earn the right to face Notre Dame on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“They’re a well-organized team, a good team with some very good players,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “There’s no way our guys will look past them, that’s for sure. We were maybe a little bit unlucky in the way things fell for us [at Louisville], but it’s a game we’ll be ready for.”

Senior forward Bright Dike notched the lone Irish goal in the loss to the Cardinals, who scored unanswered goals – in the 89th and 95th minutes, respectively.

Notre Dame will be without senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn, who injured his shoulder during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Georgetown on Oct. 29 and is likely out for the season. Junior Philip Tuttle will make his second straight start in his place after recording his first career shutout in Notre Dame’s last game, a 1-0 victory at West Virginia on Nov. 1.

“It’s business as usual,” Clark said. “He’s a very good goalkeeper … we’re very sorry for Andrew, but at the same time, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

But the Irish will be challenged, both by the Cardinals tomorrow and, should they advance, by match-ups with ranked teams like No. 3 St. John’s, No. 16 South Florida and No. 17 Connecticut.

“The top eight teams are in the quarterfinals, so it pretty well tells you that anyone could win it,” Clark said. “That’s the interesting thing about our league – it’s a very difficult league, so you couldn’t begin to forecast it.”

After winning the Big East Blue division’s regular season crown, the Irish are looking to position themselves for NCAA play by advancing in the conference tournament.

“This is huge as far as getting seeded,” Clark said. “Our record will ensure we make the NCAA’s, but the key is now if we could win [the Big East tournament], we’d be in a terrific situation to be a top-four seed in the country.”

The top four national seeds would be guaranteed home games until the semifinals, an advantage the Irish would gladly take.

“That would be a terrific situation for our team,” Clark said. “That’s the main importance.”