Men’s Soccer: Virginia hands ND first loss
Kit Loughran | Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The No. 2 Irish fell for the first time this season in a 2-0 loss to No. 23 Virginia at home Saturday.
Notre Dame (8-1-5, 5-1-3 ACC) was thrown off guard by the Cavaliers’ ability to shut down the Irish attack. While the game marked Notre Dame’s first loss and its first game surrendering two goals this season, it boosted the Cavaliers’ unbeaten streak to 10 games.
“You have to give Virginia credit,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “They came in with a game plan, and they were the first team that curtailed us to just seven shots. Virginia shut down [senior forward] Harry [Shipp] and our midfielders [sophomore] Connor Klekota and [junior] Robby Gallegos.”
Virginia (7-3-4, 3-2-4) outshot the Irish (8-7) and took four corner kicks to Notre Dame’s two.
Junior forward Vince Cicciarelli provided Notre Dame’s best opportunity to score in the opening half when he drove through the penalty box in the 19th minute and fired a shot 10 yards wide of the near post.
With two minutes left in the first half, Virginia sophomore forward Darius Madison powered through the Irish defense and sailed the ball past Irish senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall to score from 18 yards.
Immediately after returning from intermission, Madison was situated on the deep, right side of the penalty box and shot from the corner of the six-yard box to score the second goal for the Cavaliers.
Clark said the half time-framing goals hurt Notre Dame’s momentum.
“Possibly what hurt us most was the timing of goals,” Clark said. “We lost points at critical times in game, and losing goals at these times was difficult for us to recover.”
The Irish had three shots in the second half but came up with nothing to prove their efforts.
Junior defender Max Lachowecki fired the first shot of the second half for the Irish with a shot from 19 yards in the 53rd minute, but Virginia sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Gal made a diving save to block Lachowecki’s shot.
In another attempt to score, Cicciarelli headed the ball in the 76th minute for Notre Dame’s last shot on goal, but again, Gal stopped the shot.
Gal’s saves and the Cavaliers’ defense drove the Irish to only their second shutout of the season, the first since Notre Dame’s scoreless draw against UCLA in the season opener.
“I would say the most challenging part of this game was Virginia’s defensive discipline,” Cicciarelli said. “It was clear before the game that they came in with game plan of shutting down our midfield, and they executed that very well.
“They were very disciplined with keeping our numbers back and staying true to their shape of formation, and that was difficult to combat.”
Though the Irish experienced their first loss of the season, Clark said he was not disappointed in the team’s overall performance.
“I was very pleased with the effort of team – They never gave up,” Clark said. “One of the things I liked best was with one minute to go, the team was still fighting and working very hard to get anything out of the game.”
The Irish move on from this loss to play No. 15 Wake Forest (8-3-5, 5-0-4) on Saturday. Wake Forest is first in the ACC and currently only one point ahead of the Irish, who are second in the conference standings.
“We have to take a few things out of this game against Virginia and move on to Wake Forest, which is a huge game for us,” Clark said. “The implications of this week’s match are huge.”
Cicciarelli agreed the Wake Forest game is crucial for Notre Dame and its standings in the conference, and he said the loss to Virginia served as a wake-up call for the team.
“This is definitely a game we need to prepare for and to win,” he said. “Our mindset going into this game is to focus like it’s the college cup final.”
The Irish gear up to take on the Deacon Demons at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Contact Kit Loughran at firstname.lastname@example.org