Irish offense erupts in two ACC wins
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, October 27, 2014
After scuffling for much of the season, No. 3 Notre Dame saw its offense explode over the mid-semester break.
The Irish (9-4-2, 5-1-1 ACC) tallied seven combined goals in ACC victories over Duke and Virginia Tech to propel themselves into first place in the conference standings although they did see their winning streak snapped with a loss to No. 2 Indiana 1-0 in a mid-week, non-conference tilt.
The Irish traveled to Durham on Oct. 17 where they squared off against Duke (6-8-1, 3-4-0 ACC) and tied their season-high single-game goal mark in a 4-1 victory. Junior midfielder Patrick Hodan led the Irish in scoring, with back-to-back goals just over two minutes apart.
Junior midfielder Evan Panken initiated Notre Dame’s drive in the 37th minute off an assist from graduate student forward Leon Brown, and freshman forward Jon Gallagher buried his first collegiate goal to cap the scoring in the 78th minute. Fellow freshman forward Jeffrey Farina registered two assists.
Notre Dame’s four goals matched its total in a victory over Dartmouth on Sept. 6 and fell just short of the five goals scored in an exhibition matchup against Wisconsin on Aug. 25.
“We didn’t start the Duke game well, but we came into it,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “The big thing was that we didn’t concede any goals in the Duke game when we weren’t playing well.”
Notre Dame then trekked to visit the in-state rival Hoosiers (10-2-3, 3-2-1 Big Ten) on Wednesday. Indiana dominated the first half, as sloppy Notre Dame turnovers gave the Hoosiers several opportunities to score.
“[Indiana] came out and got after us,” Clark said. “They pressed us really hard, and we had a hard time completing passes. … We were turning the ball over at a great rate, and we were lucky we didn’t lose a goal through any of these turnovers.”
However, the only ball that beat Irish graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall was a corner kick sent by Indiana senior defender Patrick Doody, whose curving kick missed everyone in the six-yard box and banked off the far post before tucking into the net.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever lost a goal from a corner kick [in my coaching career],” Clark said. “A couple of guys kind of missed it and once some people miss it, it gets difficult for the goalkeeper to get behind it because he is expecting someone to deflect it, and then suddenly it’s past you.
“The second half I thought we did a lot better. We changed a couple things at half[time] and I thought we really put pressure on them.”
The Irish reacted to the adjustments well after halftime, gaining more possession of the ball in Indiana territory and generating quality chances, Clark said.
“I thought we could have taken something out of the game,” Clark said. “Would I say we deserved it? Maybe not. … I think they were able to play their game better than we were able to play our game. It was disappointing.”
Notre Dame jumped back into ACC action Saturday to host Virginia Tech (7-6-2, 2-4-1 ACC) at Alumni Stadium on the team’s senior night.
Two of the team’s senior defenders, graduate student and team captain Andrew O’Malley and senior Max Lachowecki, did not compete due to injury, but the Irish defensive depth rose to the occasion.
To replace O’Malley and Lachowecki, junior Michael Shipp and sophomore Matt Habrowski, with the latter notching his first collegiate goal in the 23rd minute. Habrowski netted the rebound off a Hodan shot to put the Irish up, 1-0. Hodan also tallied one goal for Notre Dame in the 3-1 victory, and Gallagher iced the game in the 88th minute with his second goal of the season and his college career.
“Michael and Matt have both been two of our hardest working players all year,” Clark said. “You need support. Good teams have depth and have support, so it’s good these guys did well. And Jon Gallagher, he and Farina have been doing tremendous as freshmen to be honest.”
The win put Notre Dame one point up on No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC standings, with both teams having only one conference game remaining on their respective slates. The Irish travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday while the Tar Heels (11-4-0, 5-2 ACC) host Virginia. Notre Dame beat North Carolina 2-0 at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 26.
Clark said he refuses to let his team get caught looking too far ahead though. The Irish take to the Alumni Stadium pitch for their last home regular season Wednesday against No. 15 Michigan State, who Notre Dame beat last year in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, 2-1. The game is slated to begin Wednesday night at 7 p.m.