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Men’s Soccer

Irish splash past Ohio State

| Sunday, November 23, 2014

A steady rain failed to dampen Notre Dame’s outcome in Sunday’s NCAA championship second-round contest, as a Jon Gallagher goal in the 69th minute lifted the Irish, 2-1, over Ohio State at a soggy Alumni Stadium.

The freshman forward made good use of the first Irish chance in the second half. Fellow freshman forward Jeffrey Farina played a through ball just inside the Buckeye penalty box, and Gallagher sped by the Ohio State defender to give No. 1 Notre Dame (12-4-4) the lead on a shot into the bottom left corner.

Irish sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey lines up a penalty kick during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Ohio State on Sunday night.Kevin Sabitus | The Observer

Irish sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey lines up a penalty kick during Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Ohio State on Sunday night.

“[Farina] did what he does best, just flicked it around the corner,” Gallagher said. “I just ran on and saw the corner of the goal and scored.”

Wet conditions affected the game’s flow from the beginning. The grounds crew tried to fill in puddles forming on the pitch before team introductions, but as the game wore on each bounce of the ball or plant of a foot caused a large splash. Players overran their own dribbles, and passes died en route to the intended target.

“By the time we finished our warm-up, the pitch was just waterlogged,” Gallagher said. “It turned into a kick-and-run game just because we can’t play those short passes with the puddles.”

“It was not ideal conditions for the way we play,” Irish graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall said. “Luckily our grounds crew did a very good job. They got the field in the best position it could have been in.”

Buckeyes (9-8-5) junior midfielder Zach Mason, who played hero for Ohio State (9-8-5) in the 15-round shootout victory in the first round against Akron, had a chance to put the Buckeyes up in the 10th minute, but Wall made a diving save to his right to keep the match scoreless. Wall finished with five saves on the night.

“Our style of play is short, and we try to play through teams, but it was kind of hard to do that,” Wall said. “We were kind of sticking to our guns and being a little bit stubborn, and then in the second half, we stepped out and clipped some balls farther down, and it worked better for us.”

In the 29th minute, Irish senior forward Vince Cicciarelli, returning to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 1 against Pittsburgh, was brought down inside the penalty box by Buckeyes junior defender Kyle Culbertson. Culbertson was shown a yellow card on the play, and sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey buried the penalty shot inches inside the right post to put the Irish up 1-0.

“That was [the players’] decision,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said of Aubrey’s taking the shot. “I always just let them — whoever is feeling good at it take it.”

The lead lasted all of four minutes. Ohio State sophomore forward Danny Jensen slammed home a loose ball off a corner kick in the 33rd minute to tie the game at 1-1. Wall made a save on a free kick just prior to the goal but was unable to keep the clean sheet.

The Buckeyes almost took the lead shortly before halftime when Jensen appeared to redirect a free kick past Wall. However, the referee ruled Jensen had intentionally deflected the ball with his hand, canceling the goal and earning Jensen a yellow card.

“I was disappointed that we took too long to adapt,” Clark said. “It took us until we came in at halftime and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to change this a little bit.’ And it’s maybe not the way we would want to play all the time, but I always say to the boys that the game is going to give you things. … You’ve got to recognize how you should play.”

The action slowed after halftime before Gallagher’s third goal of the year came on the first Irish chance of the half. Notre Dame missed extending its lead twice in the minutes following the freshman’s goal when junior midfielder Patrick Hodan’s drive slid inches past the left post.

“We had a little chance with Patrick Hodan,” Clark said. “It just slipped past the post. If that goes in, you can cruise home. You can light up your cigar. But that didn’t happen, so we were camped, playing right to the very end.”

Ohio State pushed its offense forward as the time ran down but was unable to generate a dangerous scoring chance. The Buckeyes finished with a 12-10 shot advantage and 6-5 in shots on goal.

“It’s quite good to learn to play like that because if you think of last week, we were playing to the end against Clemson,” Clark said. “We were holding a lead, and then we lost that lead with under two minutes to go.”

With the win, Notre Dame advances to play a familiar foe in the third round. The Irish will host ACC rival No. 16 Virginia for the third time this season. The two teams tied 1-1 Sept. 21 in Charlottesville, but it was Notre Dame who clinched the 3-0 victory in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament on Nov. 9.

The round of 16 match will kick off Sunday at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A senior History major, Zach resides in Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he has covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus.

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