November 9, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
BATTLE OF THE EAST
Notre Dame slugs past UConn 1-0
CHESTER, PA---With two of the top teams in the nation battling one another, it’s not surprising that only one goal separated the two. Dillon Powers scored the only goal, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 win over Connecticut in the second semi final of the Big East Championship at PPL Park Friday night.
|Notre Dame goalkeeper Will Walsh and his defense shut down Mamadou Doudou Diouf and the rest of the UConn attack as the Irish won their Big East Championship semifinal 1-0 on Friday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Notre Dame will play Georgetown for the Conference championship on Sunday at noon.
“When you play top teams, rarely does anyone run away,” said Notre Dame coach Bobby Clarke. “I think we had a couple of good looks we might have made more of.”
The one look was all the Fighting Irish needed, as Powers gave Notre Dame the lead in the 11th minute. Danny O’Leary played a through ball into the penalty area for Alex Priede. Priede worked his way down to the end line near the edge of the penalty area and laid the ball off to Powers who connected from in front of the goal.
Notre Dame held an advantage in the first half, outshooting the Huskies 7-1, putting four of their shots on goal.
Playing a tight possession game, the Irish tried to stifle UConn’s equally high powered offense, while both teams tried to navigate tough defenses.
“Connecticut doesn’t give up a lot of goals and we don’t give up many goals either,” said Clarke.
Notre Dame held UConn to just seven shots, and goalkeeper Will Walsh only had to make two saves.
Trailing late in the game, the Huskies tried anything they could to crack the Notre Dame defense. Mamadou Diouf tried with a big left-footed shot in the 50th minute, but sent the ball high. A few minutes later, from the right edge of the area, he sent another one high.
“Mamadou was up there alone, I think a little frustrated,” said UConn head coach Ray Reid. “If he was going to get a little daylight, he was going to let it go.”
In the 76th minute, Powers charged in on a ball into the penalty area, but UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake quickly covered it up. Blake finished the game with four saves.
O’Leary came close to putting a second one on the board in the 80th minute, but his 18-yard shot went just wide of the UConn net. Three minutes later, Big East Conference offensive Player of the Year Ryan Finley teed one up from the right corner of the penalty area, but sailed the shot into the stands.
Despite the loss, Reid is confident of his team’s placement when the NCAA has the selection show for the College Cup on Monday.
“We’ve got to be in the top eight, maybe the top four,” he said. “We play in the toughest conference in the country.”