MU Ousted From BIG EAST Tourney With 2-1 Loss At 19/12 Notre Dame
Nov. 6, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame (10-4-4) defeated sixth-seeded Marquette University by a final score of 2-1 Saturday at Alumni Stadium in the quarterfinal round of the BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship. With the loss, the Golden Eagles (7-8-4) are eliminated from the postseason tournament.
"Our program came a step closer to the level that we want to be at," said MU head coach Louis Bennett, who at one point during the second half was playing with six underclassmen on the pitch against the nationally ranked Irish." A few more wins during the season may have got us a home match, instead of an away match, and I think having a little strength and depth will help us. The product on the field is a huge improvement from what we’ve had and gives people an insight into what Marquette’s going to have in the future."
The Irish, ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation by Soccer America and the No. 3 seed in the Blue Division, scored the game-winning goal on a corner kick in the 66th minute. Grant Van De Casteele headed it in past Marquette goalkeeper David Check from the top left corner of the six-yard box to eventually seal Notre Dame’s seventh straight win over the Golden Eagles.
Check, a sophomore, faced a total of 25 shots and made a career high 10 saves, which was the most saves ever by a Marquette keeper in a postseason match and the most stops in a single game since 2000.
Notre Dame used its size advantage to create mismatches inside the box throughout the contest, including the first goal of the evening on a back-post header by Jeb Brovsky in the eighth minute as the Irish raced out to an early 1-0 lead. Check had come off his line in an attempt to grapple for a loose ball that was being batted around in the box, but the ball bounced straight to Brovsky who headed it over the top of MU defender Michael Alfano at the goaline.
"The two clear-cut chances that they had, they put away," Bennett said of the Irish's attack. "I thought they had a lot of possession in a lot of different places. They are a very good team. They are very well-coached and very well organized and fundamentally sound."
Bennett believed his side was just as dangerous during the run of play, however, as evidenced by Marquette freshman midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka, who leveled the match at 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a left-footed strike from 15 yards that snuck inside the right post. Hector Navarro, one of four seniors whose MU careers came to a close Saturday, assisted on MU's lone goal. It was Navarro's second assist, and Ciesiulka's third goal, of the season.
"There was a point where I think we had Notre Dame rattled a little bit after we had come back from being a goal down," said Bennett. "It’s a little hard not to be proud of what our guys did in a situation like that. There were opportunities for us to perhaps go ahead, and I would’ve liked to have seen Notre Dame play from behind, which is something they haven't done very often this year."
MU had outshot Notre Dame 5-3 through the first 20 minutes of play, but the Irish quickly reversed that margin and led 12-5 in the shot column by the interval. Bennett's squad had some chances early on off set pieces, but appeared to be most effective on its quick counter attacks. The Golden Eagles managed 11 shots, but only two shots on frame.
It was MU's first-ever appearance in the BIG EAST quarterfinals since the Golden Eagles joined the league in 2005. Additionally, seven wins is the most wins in a season for the program since the 2003 season and the most wins during Bennett's five years at the helm. Afterward, he gave credit to MU's senior class -- Keenan Flynn, Anthony Colaizzi, team captain Matt Stummer and Navarro -- for helping the program progress to where it is today.
"These seniors have stuck with it and helped us move this program in the right direction," Bennett said. "We finish the season one game below .500 in probably the toughest league in the country with guys who haven’t been used to winning. And they've now won. I think these four lads have done a really nice job of presenting the characteristics that we’re looking for in a Marquette soccer player."
Notre Dame will now travel to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. for the BIG EAST semifinals Nov. 12 and will play the winner of tonight's quarterfinal match between Louisville and West Virginia (7 p.m. ET).
For more information on the BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship, and ticket information for the semifinal/final round at Red Bull Arena, visit www.bigeast.org.
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