Notre Dame goes winless on road trip
Daniel O'Boyle | Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Notre Dame ended last week’s 3-game road stretch winless, drawing 0-0 with Virginia Tech and 1-1 with Northwestern, before a 2-1 defeat to No. 2 Wake Forest.
The Irish (8-3-5, 3-2-2 ACC) traveled to Virginia Tech on Oct. 16 unbeaten in their past six contests, the last three of which were decided in overtime. Both streaks continued as neither side could find a goal after 110 minutes of action.
Redshirt freshman forward Drew Ott came close to scoring for the Hokies in the 35th minute, rounding Irish junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard with a wide shot. For Notre Dame, the best opportunities came in overtime, when in the 95th minute sophomore forward Jon Gallagher squared the ball towards sophomore midfielder Blake Townes, who was unable to get on the end of it. Notre Dame’s next chance to close came in the final minute, when senior midfielder and co-captain Patrick Hodan played a corner kick straight to senior midfielder Evan Panken on the edge of the box, whose shot was blocked and cleared to keep the game scoreless.
Facing Northwestern on Tuesday, Notre Dame dominated the game’s scoring opportunities, taking 39 shots, the most for the program in 20 years, to Northwestern’s seven.
An eighth-minute goal from Gallagher set up by a pass from graduate student defender Max Lachowecki looked to have the Irish in control against the Wildcats, but sophomore forward Elo Ozumba equalized in the 58th minute and Northwestern held on.
After 90 minutes the scoreline remained the same, marking the fifth consecutive overtime contest for the Irish. The sides still could not separate, as the game finished tied, 1-1. Irish head coach Bobby Clark said he was impressed by his team’s ability to create so many scoring opportunities and credited the Wildcats with being able to stop Notre Dame from converting.
“We were close, but the goalie had several good saves,” Clark said. “You have to credit the defenders as well, they did well in the box, they were very good at that.”
“I think it was a fun game to play; we played it in Chicago Fire’s stadium, Toyota Park,” he said. “It was nice to play there; it was a very nice field, and it was a very good game. We felt we deserved more, but it was a very good game.”
Despite the run of overtime games and games on the road, Clark said he did not feel that fatigue was an issue for his team, pointing to the fight they showed in each extra period.
“I think each game, we were in good shape,” Clark said. “I didn’t think the team looked tired towards the end of any of their games. In fact, I think in all of the overtime games, we were the team that looked to be trying more to win it.”
“The game against Northwestern we actually played very well, it was just a little bit of composure to finish the shots off because we had a lot of the game. There’s no question about that — we had a huge advantage in shoots it just wasn’t our day.”
The Irish took an early lead again against Wake Forest on Friday, this time thanks to Lachowecki’s third goal of the year, but again couldn’t hold on in the second half. Freshman midfielder Jack Harrison scored early in the second half, and sophomore midfielder Jon Bakero scored a late winner for the Demon Deacons. Junior defender Brandon Aubrey had an 89th-minute header that nearly tied the score but shot narrowly wide.
Clark said he wasn’t particularly concerned about the close defeat.
“You win, you lose. That’s part of competing and playing a game,” Clark said. “Wake Forest are currently No. 1 in the country, but it was a very close game, and we did a lot of things very well. There’s a lot that we can certainly improve, we could have done better in a few areas, but we did well in a lot of other areas, so I think that you learn from the mistakes and you hold onto the good things and you move on.”
The Irish will return to action Saturday at 2 p.m., when they meet Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium.