Picking up where they left off
Zach Klonsinski | Tuesday, August 26, 2014
It was a rematch of last year’s second-round playoff game, albeit with much less at stake, as No. 1 Notre Dame defeated No. 20 Wisconsin by a score of 5-1 in its final exhibition match of season. The Irish won last season’s playoff game 4-0 in route to the program’s first-ever national championship.
Notre Dame picked up where it left off last year in the sixth minute, as graduate student Leon Brown found a loose ball just outside the six-yard box and slammed it into the back of the net off Wisconsin freshman goalkeeper Adrian Remeniuk.“[Senior] Vince [Cicciarelli] took it down the left side, and I kind of made a run in and tried to get a touch in behind the defender,” Brown said. “The ball kind of hit him and I got a shot off and it deflected and went in. It was a good start to the game.”
Brown, who scored five goals last season for Notre Dame, would also hit the bar in the 23rd minute, leading to a mad scramble in the six-yard box before the ball harmlessly rolled over the end line.
There were questions entering the year about who would replace the offense of last year’s leading scorer, the graduated Harrison Shipp for the Irish, but Brown thought the team’s performance tonight would help answer them.
“[The exhibition season] started off slow with the [0-0] Saint Louis and [2-2] Bradley ties,” Brown said. “The guys have been working hard in practice on our finishing and our attacking plays. It was good to see it come out here, especially with a couple big tests coming up here this weekend.”
The Irish would strike again in the 29th minute, when senior defenseman Max Lachowecki fed a pass from the edge of the penalty box to junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, who chipped a shot from ten yards into the top left corner for a 2-0 Irish lead.“I thought we opened the game well,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “We played pretty well up until we got the second goal, then I thought we kind of just stopped for a while in the first half.”
Notre Dame controlled the game for most of the first half, keeping most of the play in Wisconsin territory, although the visitors made a push right before halftime. The Irish finished the period with eight shots, while the Badgers registered their first shot of the game in the 38th minute yet totaled four for the half.
“[The players] knew they had stopped playing for that period in the last fifteen minutes of the first half,” Clark said. “We got two goals up and then they went to sleep, so I woke them up a little bit at halftime, and I feel they responded very well.”
Notre Dame reclaimed the momentum only three minutes into the second half period, when junior midfielder Evan Panken worked a give-and-go with Brown into the Wisconsin penalty box which Panken finished into the top corner.
“It was a nice ball, I forget who played it into Evan,” Brown said. “Evan laid it off to me then made a great run by the defense. It was easy to find him after that run.”
The Irish would strike again only a minute later as sophomore defenseman Brandon Aubrey scored his first career collegiate goal on a header on a corner cross from Hodan to put the Irish up 4-0.
That would be all for the Irish starters, as Clark would sub for all of his players in the 60th minute to save them for the regular season. Notre Dame would add a tally in the 85th minute when freshman midfielder Jon Gallagher scored from distance. Wisconsin would answer in the same minute with a goal by freshman forward Christopher Mueller for the Badgers’ lone score.
Notre Dame finished the exhibition season 1-0-2 after ties with Saint Louis and Bradley earlier in August. Looking ahead, the start of the regular season is this weekend for the Irish, and they jump right into the thick of things.
“This is one of the hardest starts we’ve ever had,” Clark said. “We play two top-12 teams in Marquette and Georgetown. They know we’re number one in the country and they’ll want our scalps. … We’ll be ready. We’ll be prepared also.”
The Irish open the regular season in Bloomington, Ind., at the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic against Marquette on Friday at 5 p.m.