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Men’s Soccer: Soft-spoken Hodan thrives as scorer

Isaac Lorton | Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Patrick Hodan may be soft-spoken, but his play on the pitch speaks louder than any words.

“He is a quiet player,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said of the sophomore midfielder. “He has a quiet sense of humor and always has a smile. He is not a loud voice, but he is a great fit for the team and for Notre Dame. He is a terrific player, a very strong student and a great athlete.”

When pressure is at its highest, the Brookfield, Wis., native is at his best.

Last season in the Big East quarterfinals, Hodan scored two goals and had one assist in Notre Dame’s 4-2 comeback victory over Syracuse on Nov. 3, 2012.

This season, on Oct. 19, the Irish (12-1-5, 7-1-3 ACC) were down 1-0 at half against North Carolina State, but in the 54th minute Hodan netted the equalizer and then went on to assist junior defender Max Lachowecki’s game-winning goal. The victory kept Notre Dame undefeated and in contention for the ACC regular-season title.

For Hodan, pressure is not a feat of individual mental fortitude, but a collective group effort.

“Our team is very good at handling pressure situations,” Hodan said. “It’s something we work on at practice and it’s really a team mentality that we have to work hard and execute in pressure situations.”

Tuesday night in the 59th minute of the ACC quarterfinal matchup against Duke, the sophomore midfielder struck again. Off of a free kick set up by sophomore midfielder Connor Klekota and senior forward Harry Shipp, Hodan struck a volly home for the one-time game-winner.

“It was a magnificent goal,” Clark said.

Prior to the goal, Hodan was the spark in the Irish offense. Multiple times in the first half Hodan put the Irish in positions to score with his ball control and skills in crowded areas. In the 25th minute Hodan almost picked up a goal when he beat two defenders on the right side of the box and put in a low cross that trickled past the Duke keeper and had to be cleared off the goal line by a Blue Devils defender.

“He has a way to freeze play during games,” Clark said. “He somehow finds space and time and just glides past defenders. He is also a great finisher, so when you combine that with his finishing ability, he’s tough to stop.”

Hodan played in all 22 games last season as a freshman but only logged two starts. He had 17 points on six goals and five assists in his rookie campaign. This season, Hodan is a regular starter and has had to fill an offensive void in the midfield left by former All-American midfielder Dillon Powers, who was second on the team in points as a senior in 2012. Hodan is currently second on the team with 14 points on five goals and four assists.

“As a sophomore, he is a big part of our offense and he carries our midfield,” Clark said. “As a freshman he had a big role coming into games and since then, he has taken a big step in the midfield.”

Whatever the team needs at the time, Hodan wants to be in that role, including handling the pressure situations.

“I hope to just help the team in whatever way I can, in whatever position, and however I can help the team best,” Hodan said.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu