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Men’s Soccer: Last-minute victory

Samantha Zuba | Sunday, October 13, 2013

Unbeaten Notre Dame captured another close victory Friday, when Irish senior forward Harrison Shipp netted the game-winner in the 90th minute against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Shipp’s unassisted goal secured the 1-0 win for No. 2 Notre Dame (7-0-4, 4-0-3 ACC) and saved the Irish from heading into their sixth overtime period of the season. Irish coach Bobby Clark said Shipp came through for the Irish after they couldn’t convert early chances into goals.
“Harrison Shipp got in the best spot,” Clark said. “We had some headers early on, and we had some great opportunities, and then Harry was able to work his magic.”
Before unleashing the game winner, Shipp regained possession after a deflection then dribbled up the middle. His shot eluded Hokies senior goalkeeper Kyle Renfro and zipped into the lower right corner of the goal.
Although the game’s lone goal came in the last possible minute, the Irish threatened to score early in the game. Irish junior forward Vince Cicciarelli created the first scoring opportunity in the third minute, but Renfro came up with his first save of the night.
Notre Dame produced a flurry of headers in the 18th and 19th minutes on corner kicks taken by Shipp. Renfro came up with a stop on senior defender Luke Mishu’s first attempt to head the ball in, then Virginia Tech (3-4-4, 1-2-4) recorded a team save on a header from Irish senior defender Andrew O’Malley. Renfro saved a header from Shipp shortly thereafter and Cicciarelli had a shot blocked by the Hokies defense to end the threat.
Cicciarelli (3), O’Malley (2) and Shipp (2) all had multiple shots on goal for Notre Dame. The Hokies, meanwhile, managed only one shot on goal, delivered by senior midfielder Robert Alberti in the 14th minute.
The Irish didn’t have to stop many shots, but the defense looked sharp, Clark said. Senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall had just one save, but stayed active in other ways he said.
“Wall had what I like to call ‘timely interceptions,'” Clark said. “For example, coming off his line for crosses. He looked sharp without lots of saves. He had to be on his toes.”
Notre Dame kept the ball in Virginia Tech’s territory, especially in the first half. The Irish forced eight corner kicks in the first period as the Hokies failed to clear the ball consistently against Notre Dame’s pressing offense. Clark said the Irish offense looked good in the first half and played to win in the second.
“We had about three or four [corner kicks] in a row at one point,” Clark said. “They couldn’t clear the ball … Generally we did good offense in the first half, and we looked like a team that wanted to win in the last 45 seconds.”
Cicciarelli unleashed two of his three shots on goal during the final 10 minutes of the game. Renfro saved Cicciarelli’s shot in the 80th minute, and the forward’s shot in the 88th minute sailed wide.
Renfro saved seven shots against Notre Dame, who attempted 23 total shots against Virginia Tech’s 13.
The Irish and Hokies played in front of a large crowd, and Notre Dame learned how tough it can be to win a road game, Clark said. The Irish will face four ranked opponents, both from the ACC and out of conference, in their final six scheduled games this season.
“The main thing is that first of all, it’s very difficult to go on the road and win games,” Clark said. “But they seemed very motivated to win the game all the way up to the 90th minute. I think the team is dealing with ACC travel really well. We still have four very difficult ACC games and tough nonleague games to play.”
Next up, Notre Dame clashes with No. 14 Northwestern at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu