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Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame eliminated from ACC tourney with 1-0 loss to Wake Forest

| Monday, November 7, 2016

Looking to repeat its ACC tournament upset of Wake Forest a year ago, No. 16 Notre Dame (11-6-2, 3-3-2 ACC) came up just a little short this time around, falling 1-0 to the No. 2-ranked Demon Deacons (13-2-3, 5-1-2 ACC) Sunday afternoon.

The game, hosted by Wake Forest at Spry Stadium, was close throughout, with each side waiting for a breakthrough moment. The regular season matchup between the two teams saw plenty of goals in a 2-2 tie, but with the raised stakes of an ACC quarterfinal, the matchup stayed a stalemate for the majority of play.

The Irish almost capitalized on the first genuine scoring chance of the game in the 15th minute, as graduate student midfielder and tri-captain Evan Panken curled a cross toward the left post for junior forward Jeffrey Farina, whose volley soared over the crossbar, nullifying the opportunity to capture an early lead for the visitors.

Graduate student midfielder Evan Panken moves the ball upfield during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Michigan State on Oct. 25 at Alumni Stadium.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Graduate student midfielder Evan Panken moves the ball upfield during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Michigan State on Oct. 25 at Alumni Stadium.

The Demon Deacons created chances of their own as the first half developed. Wake Forest senior midfielder Ian Harkes blasted a free kick off the bar from 20 yards out in the 27th minute, and freshman forward Ema Twumasi’s rocket of a shot in the 32nd minute toward the right post was deflected away by Irish senior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard. The Notre Dame goalie was on his toes for much of the game, as Wake Forest dominated in shots on goal (14-4) and corner kicks (5-1).

The deadlock lasted until the 75th minute, when Wake Forest senior midfielder Jacori Hayes dribbled into the left side of the Notre Dame 18-yard box and bent a shot inside the far post and into the back of the net. Hayes’ sixth goal of the season ultimately proved the difference in the game, as Wake Forest held off a couple of late Notre Dame surges, highlighted by a sequence in the 85th minute. With the Irish desperately looking for an equalizer, freshman midfielder Jack Casey sent a cross from the right flank into the Demon Deacon box, where junior forward and top Notre Dame goal-scorer Jon Gallagher tried a bicycle kick, narrowly missing hitting his 13th goal of the season. Panken followed Gallagher’s kick and headed the ball towards goal at the left post, but the Wake Forest goalkeeper corralled the save, effectively extinguishing all hopes of a Notre Dame comeback.

Wake Forest, the second seed in the tournament, now advances to the ACC semifinals, where it will face third-seeded Louisville on Wednesday. On the other side of bracket, fourth-seeded Clemson will take on eighth-seeded Boston College, who upset No. 1 seed North Carolina on Sunday, 1-0. Notre Dame joins the Tar Heels in their elimination from the tournament, and now awaits its draw into the NCAA tournament when the field is revealed on Nov. 14. The Irish have qualified for NCAA Tournament play in 14 of the last 15 seasons under head coach Bobby Clark, and their body of work this year suggests yet another berth should be in store.

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