ND secures ACC crown
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, November 3, 2014
After battling to a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Michigan State earlier in the weekend, the Irish bounced back with a convincing 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday at Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh.
The victory gave the Irish (10-4-3, 6-1-1 ACC) a clinching of the ACC regular-season championship, the second straight season they have done so after joining the conference last year. The Irish tied Maryland for a share of last year’s title.
Notre Dame finished ACC conference play with 19 points, which was good enough not only to clinch the Coastal Division, but also was good enough to finish in first for the entire conference. Elsewhere, the Atlantic Division was split by Clemson and Syracuse. As a result of their impressive regular season, the Irish will go into the year-end ACC tournament with the top seed.
The Irish struck quickly against the Panthers (4-9-4, 0-6-2 ACC), with a goal coming from graduate student forward Leon Brown in the 10th minute. The goal came off an assist by junior midfielder Evan Panken. Brown would strike again with a goal in the 40th minute, off an assist from senior defender Luke Mishu. Brown’s two goals tied his career high and give him five on the season.
The Irish also scored in the 30th minute off a shot from junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, who got an assist from Panken. Panken himself would later score in the 89th minute, with freshman forward Jeffrey Farina grabbing an assist. Hodan’s goal gives him eight on the season, which leads the team.
Pittsburgh never really threatened throughout the game, with its only goal being an unassisted goal in the 81st minute from senior midfielder Michael Tuohy. But that was it, as the Irish defense held strong. Throughout the night, Irish graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall only had one save opportunity. The Panthers were able to get off five corner kicks to Notre Dame’s mere one, but the Irish outshot the Panthers on goal, 8-2. However, Pittsburgh outranked Notre Dame in total shots, 14-10.
The victory marked the program’s seventh regular-season conference title. Five of those titles have come under current Irish coach Bobby Clark.
The Irish return to play Sunday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals at 1 p.m. against either Virginia or Virginia Tech.