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Men’s Soccer: Wins give team shot at Big East

Jared Jedick | Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Irish won two out of three games and improved their position in the Big East over Fall Break.

Notre Dame (9-6-1, 7-3-0 Big East) now sits second in the Big East Blue Division and may have chance to win it in a deciding final game of the regular season against No. 10 Connecticut (10-2-3, 7-1-1 Big East) on Saturday.

For the Irish to have an opportunity to take first place, Connecticut would have to lose or draw with Marquette this week before taking on the Irish at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame first took on West Virginia (6-3-6; 5-2-2) Oct. 19 at Alumni Stadium, and despite a dominating performance they were unable to pull out a victory as the Mountaineers slipped by them 1-0.

The Irish held every statistical advantage in the game but were unable to make a breakthrough and actually register a goal. Notre Dame outshot the Mountaineers 12-1 in the second half and 18-3 for the entire game. The Irish also held the edge in corner kicks over the course of the game 15-3.

The play of the game in the match was by West Virginia midfielder Alex Silva, whose goal in the 48th minute put West Virginia on top. The goal by Silva was the only shot the Mountaineers made in the second half, but it was the difference in the game.

“We out shot them 12-1 in the second half, yet the only one that counted was their shot,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “We played superbly well, but soccer can be a cruel game. The soccer gods did not smile down on us.”

The Irish did not allow the disappointment of the 1-0 loss to West Virginia get them down as they took their show on the road, however, as they had two more Big East contests.
The momentum of the solid play against West Virginia propelled the Irish to a 2-1 victory over No. 16 Georgetown (9-6-1; 6-4-0 Big East) in overtime. Georgetown is currently third in the Blue Division behind Notre Dame and Connecticut.

“We have done very well on the road,” Clark said. “The team was very determined to get the result. It took us a while to settle in, but we played well in the second half and overtime.”

The match against the Hoyas saw the Irish pick up a couple breaks, as junior defender Bilal Duckett registered the golden goal in the first period of overtime to give the Irish a much needed win over their Big East rival.

Duckett launched a hopeful shot from 25 yards out that found its way past the Georgetown keeper and into the back of the net. The goal was the first of Duckett’s career as a member of the Irish squad and marked the second time this year that Notre Dame has won on a golden goal. The previous time was off the toe of senior forward Bright Dike on October 10th against Providence.

“If Duckett can improve his defense he can become a very good attacking fullback,” Clark said. “He is doing very well.”

Notre Dame’s first goal came off of a header from senior midfielder Michael Thomas that was played to him from sophomore midfielder Brendan King off of a set piece. The goal was Thomas’ fifth of the season and led the Irish into halftime with a 1-0 advantage.
The Irish finished their week with a 1-0 win over Big East cellar-dwellers Pittsburgh (1-12-2; 0-8-1) in Pennsylvania. 

The lone goal of the game came from sophomore midfielder Michael Rose in the 48th minute. Thomas fed Rose a cross that he was able to knock in for the score. The goal was Rose’s first of his career at Notre Dame and was enough to secure the victory.

“This goal has been long in the cards for Michael,” Clark said. “It was only a matter of time.”

The Irish seemed about to let up on Pittsburgh in the waning moments, but the defense was able to hold and secure the victory.

With just two games left in the regular season, the Irish look to position themselves to get a NCAA bid.

“We need every win we can get to get into the NCAA tournament,” Clark said. “We do not have the luxury of overlooking any team. We have to finish these two games well.”

The Irish have one more non-conference tune-up at Michigan State (9-4-1) on Wednesday before Saturday’s deciding game against Connecticut.