Two shutouts earn Irish sixth Berticelli tournament title
Kit Loughran | Monday, September 7, 2015
The Irish shut out UAB to win their sixth Berticelli Memorial title Sunday at Alumni Stadium.
No. 5 Notre Dame (3-0-1) defeated the Blazers, 4-0, in a dynamic offensive battle in the final match of the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament. Sophomore forward Jon Gallagher led the Irish attack with two goals, while senior defender Michael Shipp added his first career score and senior midfielder Connor Klekota put in an insurance goal to push the Irish to four goals.
Notre Dame’s victory marks the sixth time the Irish have won the tournament during its 13-year history, as well as the 500th win in Notre Dame’s 39-year program history.
The Irish also dominated the tourney individually. Gallagher was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player, Shipp was recognized as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player, and junior Chris Hubbard earned Most Outstanding Goalkeeper honors for his two shutouts.
In Sunday’s contest, Shipp put the Irish on the board in the 20th minute off a drop pass on the run from senior midfielder Evan Panken. From there, the Irish never looked back, outshooting the Blazers, 28-6.
“To be honest we weren’t doing anything special [offensively],” Klekota said. “We were just playing as simple as we could and making runs off of the ball.
“We work on it all the time in training and today it just started to click.”
And it certainly clicked in the second half, when the Irish scored their other three goals. Gallagher took charge in the 67th minute with an unassisted goal, and Klekota added on to it with another goal soon after in the 73rd minute. Gallagher book-ended the half with his second goal in the 84th minute off an assist from sophomore midfielder Blake Townes.
Leading up to Sunday’s match, the Irish also shut out No. 24 South Florida (USF), 2-0, Friday night.
“I thought [Friday’s game] was a very good performance,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “A little slow at the start, they had a couple chances early on in the game, and I thought we took over the game quite nicely.
“The second half was very, very good.”
Gallagher contributed another goal in that game, as did junior defender Brandon Aubrey.
Notre Dame outshot USF (2-2-0) 15-11, while USF led the chippy match in penalties with 15 fouls and five yellow cards.
The Irish took the scoring initiative in the 10th minute with Gallagher’s goal. Off a pass ahead to himself, Gallagher hit the low left corner of the net to get past Bulls junior goalkeeper Spasoje Stefanovic.
Though the Irish made it to the net first, USF controlled the majority of the offensive pace in the first half. In the 18th minute, USF junior forward Nazeem Bartman dribbled past the Irish defense and fired at junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard. Hubbard got a piece of the ball and pushed it just past the left post.
The second half opened with Bulls sophomore defender Gabriel Pfeffer and junior midfielder Lindo Mfeka receiving yellow cards within the first six minutes. Irish senior midfielder Patrick Hodan tried to turn things around in the 51st minute with a run down the right side, but his shot missed high.
He had another run seven minutes later, and a handball in the box by USF handed the Irish a penalty kick. Aubrey took the kick and found the left corner of the goal to take the 2-0 lead.
“It was a great game, very similar to an ACC game,” Clark said. “Very athletic team we were against, full marks to them. They never game up. Even with a 2-0 run in the last 10 minutes, they pushed.”
As the Irish approach their first ACC matchup against No. 9 Clemson on Sept. 12, the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament gave the Irish the opportunity to test their lineup against two unique types of teams and playing styles.
“I felt both teams offered different challenges,” Klekota said. “UAB was more of a grind-it-out team who looked to use their size to their advantage, while USF had some great individual players who had the freedom to push forward.
“Both teams were physical, so once we matched their physicality, we were able to start playing the way we wanted.
“I’m just happy we are getting better with each game,” Klekota said. “All we can ask for is to get a little better each training session and game.
“We are going into our biggest game of the season so far, so we have to keep working each day in order to get to where we want to be come December.”
The Irish take on No. 9 Clemson in their first ACC contest of the season Sept. 12 at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.