No. 5 Notre Dame slides by No. 6 Georgetown in 2OT for Big East title
CHESTER, Pa. -- A golden goal from senior forward Ryan Finley in the 109th minute gave No. 5 Notre Dame a 3-2 double-overtime win against No. 6 Georgetown in the final of the Big East Men's Soccer Championship on Sunday afternoon at a sunny and warm PPL Park.
Notre Dame (16-3-1) had to overcome a one-goal deficit twice during Sunday's match to clinch the program's third Big East championship title. The Fighting Irish also won the tournament in 1996 and 2003.
The game-winning sequence began on a corner kick from Notre Dame's Dillon Powers and following a touch from Irish midfielder Nick Besler, Finley buried his second goal of the match. Finley, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, has 20 goals this season.
Georgetown (17-3-1) claimed a 2-1 advantage in the 82nd minute on Andy Riemer's second goal of the day, which was assisted by Jimmy Nealis.
Notre Dame kept attacking late into the match and it paid off when Besler, a sophomore central midfielder, tied the contest with 32 seconds left in regulation when he headed home a cross from Danny O'Leary. It was the first career goal for Besler.
"This was a great final," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said, who also guided the Irish to the 2003 Big East championship title. "It was two very good teams and that made it very exciting. It showed a lot of character for us to come back from a goal down twice. I'm very proud of the team [Sunday].
"To have a good game you need two good teams and Georgetown is a very good team. I thought we opened the game well, but then I thought they took over after the TV break in the first half. We lost our rhythm. We got back into it in the second half. I thought we finished strong in overtime and we looked like the team that was most likely to win the game."
Notre Dame left back Max Lachowecki banged a shot off the far post in the second minute. Georgetown's first shot of the match came in the fourth minute when Keegan Rosenberry received a corner kick and placed the ball wide of the far post. Irish midfielder Bob Novak sailed a shot just high from distance in the 22nd minute.
Georgetown struck first in the 39th minute when Riemer scored off a deflection in the penalty box. Melvin Snoh and Tyler Rudy picked up assists on the play. That was Georgetown's first goal against Notre Dame in the last four meetings between the two schools.
The Hoyas had the only two shots on goal in the first half and led 1-0 at intermission.
Finley produced the equalizer in the 51st minute when right back Luck Mishu sent a thru ball from near the end line and he deposited it from 16 yards out.
"We talked at halftime that we need to keep believing," Finley said. "[Luke] Mishu is such a good athlete. He got on his horse and went down the sideline and played a great ball across the box. Harry [Shipp] and I have worked on some dummies in practice and we are in sync with that and he ended up leaving it and it was a finish from there. Mishu did all the work going down the sideline. It was huge for the team to tie it up that early in the second half."
Finley was on the attack again in the 59th minute but his low-blast from the left side of the penalty area was saved by Hoya goalkeeper Tomas Gomez.
Notre Dame goalkeeper Patrick Wall came up with a huge save in the 65th minute as he stopped an Ian Christianson shot that came from 17 yards away on the right side. Wall, a junior, had four saves on the day. Gomez was tested again in the 67th minute as Irish forward Harrison Shipp rifled a shot on frame from 19 yards out and the Georgetown goalkeeper made one of his five stops in the match.
Georgetown's best chance of the first overtime was a header from Cole Seiler in the 99th minute that was saved by Wall. A diving stop from Gomez was needed in the final seconds of the first overtime on a rocket shot from Powers.
Notre Dame outshot Georgetown 22-13 in the match, including 13-7 in the second half. Both teams had seven corner kicks.
The Fighting Irish have not been shutout this season. The Irish are 4-3-1 this season when their opponent scores first. Notre Dame is 2-0-1 in overtime this season. Finley also had a golden goal in a 1-0 double-overtime victory at Michigan on Sept. 16.
Notre Dame's 16 victories tie the most in the Clark era (12 seasons). The Irish also won 16 matches in 2003 (16-3-4).
The Fighting Irish were the tournament's No. 3 seed from the Big East Blue Division, while the Hoyas were the No. 2 seed from the Blue Division.
With the win, Notre Dame earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA championship.