ND eliminated in ACC semifinals on penalty kick
Kit Loughran | Monday, November 17, 2014
The No. 2 Irish lost in penalty kicks after a 1-1 regulation period against No. 14 Clemson in the ACC tournament semifinal Friday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
Notre Dame (11-4-4, 6-1-1 ACC) entered the tournament as the top seed, but a late Clemson header by graduate student midfielder Bobby Belair off junior midfielder Paul Clowes’ corner kick pushed the match to overtime.
“We did a lot of good things, [and] it was really just at the last stages of the game when they had the corner kick that was a disappointment,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “We had defended Clemson very well, so this was the only one that got a way from us.”
Graduate student forward Leon Brown put the Irish up, 1-0, during 26th minute. Senior defender Luke Mishu passed the ball down the right side to junior midfielder Evan Panken, and Panken crossed it to Brown, who then put it away from inside the box. The goal marked Brown’s seventh goal of the season and his fourth in the past three games.
The Irish had a few other attempts at goal to go up by two goals. During the 41st minute, Panken passed the ball to senior defender Max Lachowecki, whose shot from 10 yards out went just wide of the post. Junior midfielder Patrick Hodan had an opportunity in the second half, when he fired a shot wide from seven yards out in the 74th minute. Freshman forward Jon Gallagher had a look at goal minutes later, but his shot from 12 yards out went wide of the far post.
Then, Clemson’s late goal off Belair’s header in the 88th minute sent the game to overtime. The Tigers (11-6-3, 5-2-1) dominated offensively during the first overtime period, but graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall and the Irish defense held them scoreless during the extra period. Wall thwarted a Clemson breakaway in the beginning of overtime, while Clemson freshman forward Diego Campos managed to hit the near post from close range just two minutes later.
Panken and freshman forward Jeffrey Farina had Notre Dame’s two opportunities to score in overtime. Clemson sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell saved Panken’s shot in the 102th minute. Farina had a chance during the second overtime, but his shot deflected high off the crossbar.
“They were a very hard pressing team, especially in the first half. … I don’t think we found our rhythm as fast as I would have liked,” Clark said. “In the last 20 minutes, we looked very comfortable. … We had good composure and were confident, and it was just that final corner kick that caused a problem.”
In penalty kicks, Hodan, Brown, senior midfielder Nick Besler and sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey made their shots, but misses from Gallagher, Farina and senior midfielder Brendan Lesch were not enough to overcome Clemson’s five makes.
Notre Dame’s ACC tournament appearance mirrors its finish in last season’s tournament, when the Irish fell in the semifinals to Virginia in penalty kicks, 4-3, after the Cavaliers tied the game, 3-3, late in the second half.
The Irish now prepare for the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame will find out its bracket today, and given the team’s current No. 2 ranking, will look to compete Sunday.
“The game [against Clemson] was a good test for us,” Clark said. “It’s good preparation for us, and there are a few lessons to be learned that will hopefully help us for the NCAAs. All games in the tournament are going to be tough games.
“But there’s a confidence in this group. Last year, we were eliminated in ACC semifinals, and we moved on nicely into the tournament, so we will put in a really good week of training and will look forward to playing next Sunday night.”
The Irish head into the NCAA tournament later this week as they await their tournament bid.