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Tournament Time

Nov 1, 2012, 8:30 PM EDT

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On the heels of a pair of matchups with the Golden Eagles of Marquette last week, it’s tournament time at last for Notre Dame’s men’s soccer squad.

The Irish finished the regular season in strong fashion with a win and a tie against Marquette, a team that entered the first of its quarrels with the Irish ranked No. 5 in the nation. The Golden Eagles fell to No. 10 in the latest polls due in large part to the phenomenal play of Irish senior forward Ryan Finley.

Finley, who transferred to Notre Dame from Duke after playing two years for the Blue Devils, netted three goals in the two games to earn himself much national attention. He was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. Finley was also crowned the national player of the week by both College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

Finley’s trio of goals last week pushed his season total to 17, good for second in the country. He stands at third with 37 points. Following his sophomore campaign at Duke, Finley was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Given his offensive success this season, the senior is a great bet to win the same honor again, this time in the BIG EAST.

The Irish’s 5-2-1 conference record put them at third in the BIG EAST Blue Division and thus earned them a bye in the first round of the conference tournament. Notre Dame begins tourney play against Syracuse on Saturday.

The Orange are 12-5-0 on the season, making 2012 their winningest campaign since 1988. It is Syracuse’s first appearance in the BIG EAST tournament since 2005. The Orange have played just two ranked teams all season, Louisville and St. John’s, losing by a single tally to both.

Should the Irish defeat Syracuse, they will move on to the semifinals where they could meet Connecticut or the winner of the Villanova-Seton Hall first round matchup. The Irish dropped a 2-1 decision to the Huskies in Storrs earlier this year. The semifinals and final will be held in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

The Irish and Orange will vie for a spot in the semis beginning at 7:00 pm on Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y.

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