Irish lose heartbreaker to Badgers to end season
Joe Everett | Monday, November 20, 2017
On a cold Sunday night inside Alumni Stadium, No. 12 seed Notre Dame lost in heartbreaking fashion to No. 20 seed Wisconsin 1-0 in overtime — falling in the Round of 32 of the NCAA championship.
While the Irish (11-7-2, 3-3-2 ACC) received a first-round bye courtesy of the their top-16 seed, the Badgers (12-4-5, 4-3-1 Big Ten) defeated University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) 4-1 at home in order to advance.
While the first half provided no goal scoring, it certainly did not lack in energy, excitement and general back-and-forth play. The Badgers recorded eight shots in the opening period, while the Irish generated nine — each forcing their opponent’s defense into several stressful situations, including several point-blank saves by both Irish graduate student goalkeeper Chris Hubbard and Wisconsin’s redshirt senior Phillip Schilling. While senior forward Jon Gallagher constantly pressured Schilling by generating six shots and a constant presence at the front of the Irish attack, Wisconsin’s senior midfielder Chris Mueller, who leads the NCAA with 35 total points on the season, was a constant source of pressure for Hubbard and the Irish back end.
The second half saw the tension steadily increase as both teams tried to generate a tiebreaking goal. The Irish saw genuine chances from Gallagher, fellow senior forward Jeff Farina and senior midfielder Kyle Dedrick, but were unable to capitalize. Gallagher, particularly, found a chance in the 82nd minute along the right side of the box, but his bending shot just skimmed over the left corner of the crossbar, and so, despite Notre Dame outplaying its opponent for much of the game, the teams headed into overtime still knotted at zero.
In the first overtime period, Wisconsin found the game-winning goal. In the 95th minute, the Badgers earned a corner kick, and senior midfielder Mike Catalano connected on a header from the far post and put it into the back of the net, ending Notre Dame’s season and sending the Badgers onto the Round of 16 in the blink of an eye. Irish head coach Bobby Clark commented on his team’s performance and how it was unable to capitalize despite controlling play for the majority of the game.
“I thought in many ways we played very well,” Clark said. “Obviously we just couldn’t convert — it was always going to come down to a corner kick — and the funny thing is we had eight corner kicks and they only had four. We had our chances. Even at the start of overtime we looked like the team that was going to win, but they were dangerous and they’re a good team. They’re a senior-laden team; they don’t give you chances easily, and [Mueller and senior forward Tom Barlow] always give you problems. They’re a good team, we’re a better team, but it’s the score — the only thing that really counts is goals, and they got the one goal that mattered tonight. So that was very disappointing, but such is life.”
Clark also reflected on his seniors — their play and emotion after the game, and what they’ve meant for the program.
“It’s been a great class — you can see how disappointed they all are,” Clark said. “It was a tough, tough night for them. Chris Hubbard had a couple of really good saves — he did well. [Graduate student defender Matt Habrowski] was great, [Gallagher and Farina], [Kyle Dedrick] had to come on for [junior midfielder Thomas Ueland] and did well — the seniors were terrific. It’s been a great group, and it’s always sad that they can’t take it a little further, so I’m very sad for them.”