Season Recap: ND claims first national title in program history
Isaac Lorton | Friday, May 16, 2014
With a new year and new conference came a brand new College Cup.
After being eliminated in the third round of the 2012 NCAA playoffs by future champions Indiana, The Irish had an empty feeling. They had won the Big East tournament, they were ranked No. 1 overall going into the playoffs and they had the talent win, but things did not turn out that way.
“We got knocked out … last year and they thought they had underachieved,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I thought we came back with a terrific thunder in 2013. We were ready, and it was our first year in the ACC, so a lot of things came together to make them a very hungry team.”
The 2013 season was different. The Irish are national champions.
“I think the previous  team was equally good,” Clark said. “The team was capable of winning it both years. In the [NCAA] tournament though, you always need that little bit of luck to take you through, and the nice thing was this year we got that.”
The Irish (17-1-6, 7-1-3 ACC) defeated New Mexico in the NCAA semi-finals 2-0 and then went on to defeat Maryland 2-1 in the National Championship game in Philadelphia.
Sophomore Patrick Hodan shone in the semifinal game with a two-goal performance.
Hodan’s first goal came in the seventh minute on an assist from senior forward and captain Harrison Shipp, and the second came in the 64th minute when Hodan headed a rebound in off of junior forward Vince Cicciarelli’s shot which hit the cross bar.
Seniors carried the team in the title match. Notre Dame went down early 1-0, as Maryland’s leading scorer, senior forward Patrick Mullins, hammered in a follow-up shot. The Irish came back to knot the game on a goal from senior forward Leon Brown in the 40th minute. Brown entered the game as a substitute, as he did much of the season, and snuck the game-tying goal near post.
Senior defender and captain Andrew O’Malley headed in the winning goal on a cross from Shipp, who was named College Cup co-Most Outstanding Player alongside Mullins.
“It meant the world to me to score the [game-winning] goal,” O’Malley said. “Winning the National Championship was special not just for the program but this group of seniors.
Everything came together for the Irish in 2013.
“It was a good culmination of my time at Notre Dame,” Shipp said. “When I first came to ND, Notre Dame had been consistently good but had never broken through to win a national title. To be part if the team that won was special, but the seasons leading up to it really laid the foundation.”
“You could see the team building and growing throughout the course of the season,” senior defender and captain Grant Van De Casteele said. “It was … great to see the growth and maturity in tournament play, we really learned from our mistakes from the past.”
The Irish did not win the ACC, as they had won the Big East in 2012, but were knocked out in the second round by Virginia, who had handed them their only regular season loss as well.
“The reaction when we lost in the ACC semis was a key moment because there were a few unlucky things that happened and that loss happened right before the NCAA tournament,” Van De Casteele said. “The ability to bounce back quickly from that was key.”
The College Cup victory is Bobby Clark’s first national title in his 27 years of coaching collegiate soccer, 13 at Notre Dame.
The squad graduates six seniors — Shipp, who was signed by the Chicago Fire as a homegrown player, Van De Casteele, who was drafted No. 19 overall by the Colorado Rapids, goalkeeper Adam LaPlaca, defender Connor Miller, midfielder Kyle Craft and forward Alex Priede. O’Malley, Brown, defender Luke Mishu and goalkeeper Patrick Wall will return for fifth years.