Variety of scorers carry Irish offense in early going
Kit Loughran | Thursday, October 1, 2015
It all comes down to one thing in sports: scoring more than the other team.
For the Irish, though, the pressure of finding the net isn’t solely on the strikers, thanks to the versatility of the team.
“I feel there are a lot of players on our team who are very capable of scoring,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “Outside of our goalkeeper, every single player is capable of scoring and that’s a certainly a positive.”
And with 21 goals and a .509 shot-on-goal percentage in just 10 games this season, the numbers back up that point. Even four defenders have contributed six goals to the season tally. Graduate student Max Lachowecki and senior Michael Shipp each have two goals — putting them second on the team — while juniors Brandon Aubrey and Matt Habrowski each have one.
That’s not to say the strikers haven’t been doing their job — or stepping up on the other end of the field as well. The No. 7 Irish (7-2-1, 2-1-0 ACC) have only allowed eight goals on the season.
“All four of the strikers are doing superbly well,” Clark said. “They’ve been terrific, both defending and scoring goals.”
Sophomore striker duo Jon Gallagher and Jeffrey Farina have especially made an impact, Clark said. After recording three goals and three assists and two goals and seven assists last season, respectively, Gallagher leads the Irish with six goals on the season while Farina is tied for the team lead with four assists, a stat Clark said is just as important as a goal.
“At the end of the day, an assist is a goal,” Clark said. “So Jeffrey has really made four goals. It’s just as hard to separate one from the other.”
Senior midfielder Patrick Hodan is close behind Farina in the assists department with three. The leading scorer last season with nine goals, Hodan netted his first goal of this year Tuesday night in Notre Dame’s 4-2 victory over Marquette.
“Patrick draws so much attention from opponents,” Clark said. “There’s no question that Pat is a special player.
“One of the nice things if he draws attention is it opens the door for someone else. It’s important in creating setups, and he’s got quite a few assists. That’s definitely a positive.”
In both Tuesday’s matchup against Marquette and Friday’s against Virginia, the Irish offensive efforts saw major results in the second half of play. Notre Dame scored three of its four goals in the last 20 minutes of play against Marquette and entered the second half against No. 11 Virginia leading 1-0 but closed the game, 3-1, with a pair of second-half goals.
Clark said this second-half stamina attests to the team’s physical fitness they’ve worked to build up.
“I think there’s a good fitness level on the team,” Clark said. “The boys work very hard over summer with our fitness coaches, and [also] at summer camp or school.
“They all work hard in the summer and it’s paying dividends [now].”
With a mixture of scorers on both ends of the field this season, the Irish are all about the team, not individual, statistics, Clark said.
“The nice thing about this team is no one is particularly worried about who scores,” Clark said. “All they are concerned about is, ‘Can the team can get one more than their opponent?’
“They do not worry on personal statistics.”
With that unselfish mindset, Clark and his Irish take to the road to face North Carolina State this weekend.
“They’re a good team in the ACC, and it will be a challenge but a challenge we are all excited about.” Clark said. “We lost our only game on the road, and this is our second visit to Raleigh, so we are excited to take more out of it this time.”
Notre Dame and North Carolina State are slated to play Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dail Soccer Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.