Late goal ends Notre Dame’s season
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, December 1, 2014
The third time was not the charm for Notre Dame.
After earning a draw and a win in their first two matchups against Virginia this season, the top-seeded Irish (12-5-4, 6-1-1 ACC) felt the sting of the third possible outcome Sunday night at Alumni Stadium. A rebound goal in the 82nd minute by Cavaliers sophomore midfielder Nicko Corriveau was all 16-seed Virginia (12-6-2, 3-3-2 ACC) needed to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory and end Notre Dame’s bid for consecutive titles.
“Of the three games we’ve played against them this year, possibly that was the game we had the most control over,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I felt that was the one I was most comfortable in, yet that was the one that we lost. Soccer is a funny game sometimes.”Scoring chances were hard to come by in a tight defensive game, but a shot by Cavaliers redshirt freshman midfielder Pablo Aguilar ricocheted off an Irish player to Corriveau, who put a laser inside the left post to record the game’s lone tally. Notre Dame ratcheted up the pressure in the closing minutes but was unable to find an answer.
Irish freshman forward Jeffrey Farina’s shot was knocked down a minute later by Cavalier fifth-year senior goalkeeper Calle Brown and Farina’s follow-up sailed well wide. Senior midfielder and captain Nick Besler sent a blast from 20 yards just high with under seven minutes remaining and junior midfielder Evan Panken’s free kick from 25 yards out with 1:31 remaining in the game suffered a similar fate before the clock ran out on Notre Dame’s season.
“There were a couple of very close chances that we almost got ahold of,” Clark said. “Could we have done that earlier? I don’t know, but you always have to wait until you’re in a hole before you really go. You keep putting off finals until the last minute, and then you’ve got to work very hard.
“I think we just kept thinking a goal was going to come. I honestly thought it might have happened through our regular game. … It just wasn’t enough.”
The third-round playoff match marked the third time this season and fifth time in the last two years that Notre Dame and Virginia squared off with each other. This year, the two teams tied in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 21, and Notre Dame won 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament Nov. 9 at Alumni Stadium.Last season, Virginia was the only team to defeat Notre Dame en route to the national championship. The Cavaliers bested the Irish at home, 2-0, in the regular season and then advanced on penalty kicks when the two faced off again in the ACC tournament semifinals.
In this episode of the budding rivalry, neither team could find space to work for much of the game.
“They did a good job,” Besler said. “They put ten people behind the ball, and I thought we controlled the game pretty much from the get-go. It was one of those days where you can’t score.”
“They don’t give up many goals,” Clark said. “They just defended really well.”
Irish graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall kept the game scoreless in the 24th minute when Cavaliers junior midfielder Todd Wharton put a free kick on net from just outside the penalty box. The ball burrowed through the wall of Irish defenders, but Wall smothered it. The goalkeeper finishes his career with a 38-7-10 record and 19 shutouts.
Notre Dame just missed taking the lead seconds before halftime when Panken almost connected with a cross at the top of the six-yard box, but a Cavalier defender cleared the ball high of the wide-open net.
“That was a really good chance right before halftime,” Clark said. “The lad got it away from Evan Panken right at the back post. I think it was Patrick Hodan that put it across the goal.
“Goals change games. If we get a goal, then they come out, and you can get behind them again, but we just didn’t get the goal today. But like I said, I felt we played, in a funny way, much better than when we beat them 3-0 earlier in the year, but such is life.”
At halftime, the Irish held a 3-2 shot advantage although Wharton’s free kick blast was the only shot on goal for either team. Play opened up a little in the second half, and Notre Dame finished with an 11-8 shot advantage.
Although the loss was obviously not how the team hoped to end its season, Clark said the senior class can hold their heads high after all they have accomplished in their time at Notre Dame.
“I’ve been proud of this team all season, all year,” Clark said. “They’re a great group of guys.”