Farina, Hodan lead Irish to win over Blue Devils
Brett O'Connell | Monday, October 12, 2015
Patrick Hodan scored two goals for the Irish, but it was sophomore forward Jeffrey Farina whose overtime goal won the day for Notre Dame in a marquee matchup against conference foe Duke on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
The No. 7 Irish (8-2-3, 3-1-1 ACC) started the game strong, establishing a comfortable two-goal lead and controlling the pace of the game through 55 minutes against a beleaguered Duke squad still seeking its first conference win — but they needed Farina’s set piece heroics to ultimately seal the deal in the 3-2 victory. The sophomore forward put home the golden goal in the 97th minute as the ball found its way from junior defender Matt Habrowski’s head to Farina’s feet right in front of the keeper’s box.
Farina started the game alongside fellow sophomore forward Jon Gallagher, though both were substituted out with about fifteen minutes to go in the first half. They returned a quarter of the way into the second half and were both on the field for the game-winning goal. Irish head coach Bobby Clark lauded the performance of his two young two strikers.
“[Farina has a] very calm finish,” Clark said. “He was in a position just before the end of regulation, but I think his ankles clipped. So the goal was a form of justice, I think.”
Senior midfielder Patrick Hodan also turned in a star-caliber performance for the Irish, scoring two goals on the evening to bring his regular season total to three. Particularly impressive was his second tally, scored on a set piece that saw junior defender Brandon Aubrey fake a powerful shot to the bottom right corner before Hodan finessed his own shot into the opposite corner, Clark said. Hodan’s shot caught the goalie moving in the other direction and snuck between him and the left post to bring the score to 2-0.
Clark lauded the team’s set piece preparation.
“The day before a game we always go through our set pieces, and that was one we talked about a little bit,” Clark said. “There were really three guys that could have taken the kick there — the two main ones were Aubrey, who has a lot of power and Patrick, who has finesse. It was a beautiful free kick.”
With the victory over Duke, the Irish enter the final stretch of the regular season. The team will travel to three away games over the course of the next two weeks before returning home for Senior Night against Pittsburgh for the final game of the regular season. Three of those four games, including matches against Virginia Tech and No. 6 Wake Forest, will have significant implications for seeding in the ACC Tournament. In the ACC’s Coastal division, the Irish currently sit two games back of No. 2 North Carolina, which is a perfect 5-0 in conference play.
Clark said the level of competition in the ACC is high, meaning Notre Dame’s final four games will not be easy.
“There’s not an easy game in the ACC,” Clark said. “That’s a given. You throw Northwestern into the mix — I don’t think we’ve ever beaten Northwestern on the road in the past few years. So that’s one that we really need to take care of as well. I think the secret of being successful in this is taking one game at a time. The only game we need to concentrate on right now is the Virginia Tech game.”
Clark still said he is confident in his team’s morale and mental well-being moving into one of the more challenging stretches the season.
“There’ll be no problem with morale,” Clark said. “Midterms covered about the last three weeks, and that’s one of the most difficult stretches the boys have to deal with. This week will be the last really tough one, with fall break next week.”
The Irish get a brief reprieve from action as they spend the week practicing before heading east to face Virginia Tech at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Blacksburg, Virginia.