The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Soccer: Conference semifinals loom large

Molly Sammon | Friday, November 12, 2010

The Irish will play Friday in the Big East Championship Semifinal game against the top team in the country, the Louisville Cardinals, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., home of the New York Red Bulls. A win would send the Irish to the conference finals for the 14th time in program history.

“Tomorrow’s game is going to be huge, the biggest game of our season so far,” junior midfielder Chris Sutton said.

“Louisville is a team we want to play and we want to beat.

Louisville has been growing as a program, they’re getting better everyday. We’ll be ready to play, they’ll be ready to play. It’ll be one of the most exiting games in the country.”

The No. 11 Irish (10-4-4, 6-2-1 Big East) are seeded No. 2 in the Blue Division of the tournament, just behind the undefeated No. 1 Cardinals (15-0-2, 9-0), who are at the top of the conference rankings.

“Playing a team like Louisville could do good things for our confidence and do good things going down the stretch,” Sutton said. “So going through the whole season winning the Big East Tournament would mean a lot to us going into the national tournament.”

This is the fourth year in a row that the Irish make a semifinal appearance in the conference tournament, and their eighth trip overall to the semifinals.

Notre Dame and Louisville have played each other for the last two years in the conference semifinals. Last year, the Irish won 4-3 on penalty kicks, and in 2008 the Irish won 1-0.

The Cardinals and the Irish met once earlier in the season in Louisville, Ky., where the Irish fell 2-0. Though the teams were tied 0-0 in the first half, Louisville notched both of their goals in the second half to win the game.

“The game has kind of been built up since we played Louisville last,” Sutton said. “They took it to us a little bit. We’ve been looking forward to this game to get our second chance that them. Hopefully we take advantage of it.”

Though Louisville will be a challenging competitor, the Cardinals have the task of breaking Notre Dame’s current five-game win streak.

If the Irish win, they will take on the either No. 1-seeded Cincinnati or No. 5-seeded Providence.

The match will be aired live on CBS College Sports at 7:30 p.m.

“We had our training session today. Everyone practiced. Everyone was looking great. It’s all up to us now,” Sutton said.