Notre Dame knocks off 10-man Virginia in budding rivalry
Daniel O'Boyle | Monday, September 28, 2015
In a meeting of the past two national champions, No. 6 Notre Dame emerged triumphant, beating No. 4 Virginia 3-1 at Alumni Stadium on Friday night.
The Cavaliers (5-1-2, 1-1-1 ACC), who were reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute, were undefeated in their 12 games, including an NCAA tournament victory over the Irish (6-2-1, 2-1-0) last season, but goals from junior forward Mark Gormley, senior midfieder Evan Panken and senior midfielder Connor Klekota ensured a Notre Dame victory.
Irish graduate student defender and co-captain Max Lachowecki said beating such a strong conference rival was important for the Irish.
“It was a great win, especially against one of the best teams in the ACC,” Lachowecki said. “I think everyone remembers our result against them in the NCAA tournament last year, so it’s good to beat them.
“I wouldn’t say it makes up for it, but it’s nice to beat a team you have a rivalry with. I’m sure we’ll see them again down the road and they’ll want to get revenge. That’s what happened last year.”
The Irish came close to opening the scoring less than a minute after kickoff, as sophomore forward Jeffrey Farina set sophomore forward Jon Gallagher free on goal, but Gallagher shot wide of the near post. Fewer than two minutes later, Virginia sophomore midfielder Jake Rozhansky had a close-range header in the box, but his effort was comfortably caught by Irish junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard, who would not be seriously challenged by the Cavaliers again in the first half.
The Irish pressured the Cavaliers throughout the first half with dangerous set pieces. First, a free kick 20 yards from goal from junior defender Brandon Aubrey was tipped over the crossbar by Virginia sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell. From the resulting corner, Aubrey headed the ball across the face of the goal, but Klekota could only manage a header wide. Aubrey then found himself on the end of senior midfielder Patrick Hodan’s free kick, but also headed the ball wide.
In the end though, Notre Dame broke through in open play, as a patient passing move deep in Cavalier territory ended with Hodan finding Gormley in the box, who calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the goal in the 36th minute.
The second half started slowly, with a blocked Farina shot providing one of the few early chances, but the course of the game suddenly turned in the 70th minute by a red card: Virginia junior forward Riggs Lennon, who had returned to the field after receiving injury treatment only two minutes earlier, was sent off for violent conduct against junior defender Matt Habrowski.
Irish head coach Bobby Clark said the red card allowed his team to control the game.
“The red card of course had a huge impact, you can see that the game changed after that,” Clark said. “Once you go down a man it’s very hard to chase the rest of the game, so that made it very easy for us to keep control of the game, and we did that for the most part.”
It didn’t take the Irish long to make the most of their numerical advantage, as in the 78th minute, Farina flicked a long throw from Lachowecki on to Panken, who beat a defender and shot beyond Caldwell’s reach.
The Cavaliers began to claw their way back into the game almost instantly however, winning a penalty within a minute of the restart. Senior midfielder Todd Wharton converted the opportunity, sending Hubbard the wrong way.
The Irish restored their two-goal advantage in the 81st minute when sophomore midfielder Blake Townes won the ball high up the field and was able to get the ball to Farina, who squared the ball across the face of the goal to Klekota, who tapped the ball into a wide-open net.
The Irish almost brought their goal total to four in the final minute, with Gallagher finding himself alone against Caldwell on a counterattack, but the Cavaliers goalkeeper got his fingertips to the shot and sent it wide.
The Cavaliers had only five shots to Notre Dame’s 13, and Clark said he was impressed by the way his team restricted Virginia’s scoring opportunities.
“The way we played that game is the way we try to play every game,” Clark said. “The game will dictate whether you press them high up the field or defend deep in your own half. I think we did both very well, and apart from the penalty, we didn’t give them much of a chance to get the ball and a good look at goal.”
The Irish will next be in action Tuesday, when they take on Marquette at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.