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Men’s Soccer: Seniors go out on top of ACC

Samantha Zuba | Sunday, November 10, 2013

No. 1 Notre Dame honored its senior class with a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh and a share of the ACC crown Friday on senior night at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame (11-1-5, 7-1-3) entered the night tied for first place in the ACC with Maryland. The Terrapins (10-3-5, 7-1-3) also won Friday, so they will share the ACC title with Notre Dame.
Irish coach Bobby Clark praised the Irish for securing the regular-season capstone.
“It’s the best league in the country,” Clark said. “With 11 games, six of them on the road, it’s a terrific accomplishment to be proud of. This is a great start. We always talk about the travel: winning the league and then winning your conference tournament and winning the NCAAs. This is our first step towards the travel.”
Goals by senior forward Harrison Shipp and junior forward Vince Cicciarelli propelled the Irish to the win.
Cicciarelli’s insurance goal didn’t come until the 81st minute, so Notre Dame felt a lot pressure throughout the match, Clark said.
“When the second goal came, that was a nice relief because we knew we had to win it to win the league,” Clark said. “There’s a fair bit of emotion, a little bit of anxiety I would say because although we dominated play … until we scored the second goal, there was always a chance they could maybe get something on the counterattack.”
In the 38th minute, a Pittsburgh penalty in the box handed Shipp a penalty kick, which he drove into the upper left corner of the goal to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Shipp leads the Irish with eight goals on the season.
Cicciarelli scored his fifth goal of the season from the left side in the 81st minute off an assist from senior forward Leon Brown.
Notre Dame controlled possession in the first period with sharp passing that kept the ball around Pittsburgh’s goal. In the first half alone, the Irish recorded 17 shots.
Despite creating so many chances, Notre Dame took a long time to score, but Clark said the Irish refused to let up.
“I think it was patience and persistence,” Clark said. “I think two P’s, patience and persistence. I thought we had a lot of the ball, and we moved the ball very well, but between good goalkeeping and some last-ditch saves, the goals took a long while in coming.”
Notre Dame spread the field with sweeping passes to prevent a Pittsburgh counterattack. The Panthers managed only three shots in the first half, and senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall didn’t have to make his first save until the 34th minute.
Senior defender Luke Mishu aggressively opened the second half for Notre Dame with a shot that flew high over the net 17 seconds into the period.
The Irish kept the heat up in the 55th minute. Brown broke away and wailed a shot over the goal in a one-on-one versus Panthers sophomore goalkeeper Dan Lynd.
The Pittsburgh offense pushed harder in the second period and doubled its total shots to six in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers, however, could not overcome the Irish.
Shipp said Notre Dame proved it could compete in the ACC.
“I think we were picked fourth or fifth coming into the year to finish and our coach was the only one to vote us on top of the ACC, so I think coming in our first year it’s pretty impressive to deal with the schedule of travel every weekend,” Shipp said. “To be on top of the ACC is something that we really wanted to get coming into the year.”
Next up for the Irish are the ACC quarterfinals Tuesday. Notre Dame will host Duke at a time to be determined.
Contact Samantha Zuba at [email protected]