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Men’s Soccer: ND lights up Wisconsin

By Vicky Jacobsen | Sunday, November 24, 2013

Junior forward Vince Cicciarelli gave No. 3 Notre Dame the early lead over No. 19 Wisconsin, and Irish piled on during Sunday night’s frigid game at Alumni Stadium, earning a 4-0 win and a spot in the third round of the NCAA Championship.

“Obviously it was a good game from our point of view, and I thought [the Badgers] were a good team,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “They play well, but we scored the early goal … I think it was a good performance.”

Cicciarelli broke open the game in the seventh minute in what first appeared to be an off-balance shot headed over the goal. Instead, the arching shot sailed between the crossbar and the hands of Wisconsin senior goalkeeper Max Jentsch to put the Irish (13-1-6, 7-1-3 ACC) ahead, 1-0.

“We got that goal in the first 10 minutes, and I think that forced them to come out and play,” Irish senior forward Harrison Shipp said. “I think they wanted to play a more defensive strategy, but when we got that early goal it forced them to pressure higher up the field and allowed big spaces behind, which we took advantage of.”

Shipp stretched the lead to 2-0 with a goal off a free kick in the 22nd minute. “The Little Wizard” needed no trickery to sink this one, as he powered the shot straight into the right side of the goal from the spot of the foul.

Sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan almost slammed the door on the Badgers (14-5-4, 4-2-0 Big Ten) with a shot on an open net toward the end of the first half, but Wisconsin junior defender AJ Cochran stepped in front of the ball to prevent a third Notre Dame goal.

The Irish went into halftime with a 2-0 lead, but Hodan stretched the lead to three just 10 minutes into the second period, when he sent a long free kick straight past Jentsch and into the back of the net.

“The goal right after halftime was a killer for them,” Clark said. “I think they came out hoping to get something back, but that made it very difficult for them.”

The Irish were not done just yet. In the 65th minute, Shipp gave the Irish a 4-0 lead with a short-range chip shot that landed just inside the back post. Until Shipp’s second goal of the night, the Irish had not scored four goals in an NCAA Championship game since beating Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 4-1, in 2003.

But when it came time to bestow MVP honors, it wasn’t one of the goal-scorers who earned Clark’s kudos.

“I would give the biggest plaudit to our grounds crew for getting that field [ready],” Clark said. “They covered it with a tarp down on Friday, and then they cleared it today, and they did a good job.”

Although Shipp wore two pairs of socks to keep his feet warm during the game, he said the temperatures in the low-20s didn’t bother the players once play began.

“I think the biggest thing was the lack of wind,” Shipp said. “It was cold, but honestly I didn’t even think about it. I don’t think many people did think about it. When it’s really windy, it’s something you think about each half, whether you’re going into the wind or out of the wind.”

The Irish will now face No. 14 Wake Forest, who defeated Navy, 2-1, during Sunday’s second-round action. Wake Forest (10-5-5, 6-1-4 ACC) is not an unknown quantity for the Irish, who defeated the Deacons, 3-1, on Nov. 2.

“Wake Forest is a very, very good team, arguably the best team we’ve played in the ACC,” Clark said. “[It’s] between them and Virginia. This will be a challenge. It’s the same kind of challenge we ran into last year when we played Indiana. So can we grow and can we take it another step? I think we feel we’ve been on the doorstep a few times now, but it’s not easy in these one-off games.”

The Irish will host Wake Forest at Alumni Stadium in the third round of the NCAA Championship on Dec. 1.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected].