Marquette Falls 2-0 to No. 1 Notre Dame in BIG EAST Semis
Nov. 7, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Marquette women's soccer team (11-7-3) was eliminated from the BIG EAST Conference Tournament Friday night, falling 2-0 to top-ranked Notre Dame (20-0-0) in the BIG EAST Tournament Semifinals at Alumni Field.
Notre Dame advances to play No. 3 American Division seed Connecticut in the championship game Sunday at Noon ET. Connecticut upset No. 1 American Division seed West Virginia following a 1-1 double overtime tie, by virtue of penalty kicks, 4-2.
"Congratulations to the Notre Dame team and their coaches for advancing to the BIG EAST Championship game," said head coach Markus Roeders. "They are very talented and our team battled them extremely hard tonight. People may not understand how good ND's squad is. After having them played twice this season, it is evident they have the right mix of talent, players and sophistication in their play to win a National Championship."
Marquette's defense was running on all cylinders under a relentless Irish attack and freshman keeper Kulla did everything she could to deny Notre Dame's chances. In the first half alone, Kulla topped her previous career high with six big saves. Marquette's offensive opportunities were limited as freshman Danielle Martens and junior Becky Ryan tallied MU's two shots in the first half.
"It was a difficult night for us to sustain a consistent attack. We had some spells where we build some offense but not enough to score and turn the game into our favor. Natalie Kulla and our backline did a fantastic job keeping Notre Dame from adding goals to the scoreboard," said Roeders.
After Kulla made five of her six first-half saves, Notre Dame went ahead 1-0, in the 27th minute. BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Melissa Henderson took the ball down the right side of the field to the outside of the box, fed it to Michelle Weissenhofer who scored from about 10 yards out.
Taylor Knaack made it 2-0 in favor of the Irish early in the second half at the 49:42 mark. Henderson served a cross in from the left that was deflected by MU's defense. Knaack controlled the rebound, and with Kulla out of the goalbox junior Allison McBride stepped back to try to deny the goal, but the ball bounced in for the score.
The Golden Eagles would not back down and Martens had a great opportunity in the 66th minute but knocked her low-lying shot just wide of the goal. Marquette continued to pressure, but Notre Dame's defense swallowed the few opportunities it created.
For the game, Notre Dame put 11 shots on goal to Marquette's one. Kulla played all 90 minutes in net and totaled a career-high nine saves. Irish keeper Kelsey Lysander made one save.
Marquette now awaits the NCAA Tournament selection committee's decision of whether it will be among the field of 64 for the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be broadcast live on ESPNews on Monday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. CT.
"Let's hope we get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. This team has played well throughout the year and battled many tough teams. A special thank you to our three seniors, Katie, Shannon and Kelli who have played a huge role for us and our biggest wish would be for them and us to step on the field one more time," said Roeders.