DePaul Falls in BIG EAST Semifinals
STORRS, Conn. Fighting not only one of the nation’s top-ranked teams, the DePaul men’s soccer team had to face frigid temperatures and brisk winds in their first BIG EAST semifinal appearance on Friday evening. The Blue Demons came up on the short end of a 2-1 score as 11th-ranked Notre Dame advances to Sunday’s championship match.
Notre Dame (12-3-5) struck early as Steven Perry found Michael Thomas in the middle of the penalty box. Thomas took Perry’s pass and lofted a floater to the right corner at 4:08 to start the match’s scoring.
Following the Notre Dame goal, Alex Mangan put an attempt towards the Irish net from 15 yards, but it sailed wide of the right post. The first half saw the Blue Demons take six shots while the Irish were able to get off seven first-half attempts.
The Irish nearly added a second goal midway through the first half, but Brian Visser showed why he was selected as the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year with a pair of saves before Notre Dame’s third attempt went wide left of the goal.
In the final minutes of the first period, the Blue Demons put three shots towards the goal without finding the net. Notre Dame’s Chris Cahill made two saves and Julian Chill’s shot from the right flank crept just to the left of the far post in the 39th minute.
DePaul (12-7-0) put together the first scoring chance of the second half when John Kornfeld flipped a pass over the Notre Dame back line where Steffen Vroom took it out of the air with his left foot. The shot beat Cahill, but it was a shade too high and ricocheted off the crossbar and back to the Irish keeper.
Notre Dame answered the near-tying goal less than five minutes later when Alex Yoshinaga took a shot that was knocked away by Visser. The rebound went directly to Joseph Lapira at the top of the 18-yard box where he sent a liner to the upper half of the DePaul net at 67:21 for a 2-0 advantage.
Despite the 2-0 deficit, the Blue Demons refused to go away. DePaul kept the pressure on and Erich Reichmann scored his first goal of the season to cut the margin in half. Reichmann lined up a shot from nearly 40 yards and put it into the left corner past Cahill at 73:53.
The Irish continued to look for their third goal, but Visser kept the Blue Demons in the match. With eight minutes left, he executed a crowd-pleasing diving save on a shot by Yoshinaga. DePaul took the ball to the other end of the field and found Kevin Briars on the left flank, but he was unable to convert the attempt.
Visser finished the evening with six saves while Cahill totaled five stops. Notre Dame outshot DePaul, 15-10, and took two corner kicks to one for the Blue Demons.
The Blue Demons now wait for a potential at-large bid to the 2007 NCAA Championship. The 48-team field will be announced on Monday between 4:30-5 p.m. on ESPNews. The first round of the NCAA Championship is set for either at Friday, Nov. 23 or Saturday, Nov. 24 at campus sites.
Match Notes: The Blue Demons drop to 1-5-0 in night matches this season... the game was the first for DePaul at a neutral site this season... DePaul is now 8-4-0 in matches decided by one goal... Notre Dame has won 18 of 19 all-time meetings between the two programs.