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ND advances in penalty shootout

| Monday, November 23, 2015

On a cold, windy Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium, junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard denied every Tulsa penalty attempt and pushed No. 7 Notre Dame into the third round of the NCAA tournament as the Irish advanced on penalty kicks with a 1-1 draw.

After regulation and two overtime periods, tied at one goal apiece, the Irish (11-4-6, ACC 4-2-2) emerged victorious over the Golden Hurricane (8-6-7, 2-3-2 AAC) after winning the penalty shootout 3-0.

“We’ve practiced and done penalty kicks pretty regularly for the last maybe three or four weeks before the ACC tournament,” Clark said “It’s never easy, but when you’ve got a goalkeeper that pulls off fantastic saves, it makes the job a little bit easier. Chris did a fantastic job. All of the saves he made were really quite well hit penalties, were right down the corner, and he got to them. So he did a fantastic job.”

The first penalty was converted by senior midfielder Patrick Hodan to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the shootout. Tulsa freshman forward Miguel Velasquez attempted the following penalty kick, but Hubbard dove to the right to punch the ball away from the net.

Junior defender Brandon Aubrey missed the next penalty high over the goal, but Hubbard kept the Irish in the lead after blocking another kick, this time attempted by sophomore midfielder Kay Duit. Sophomore forward Jon Gallagher converted the next attempt for the Irish, placing the shot in the upper-left corner to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.

Tulsa sophomore midfielder Geoffrey Dee stepped up to the penalty circle to give the Golden Hurricane some life, but Hubbard denied yet another shot, extending his body across to the left for the save.

Hubbard said he was confident his team would convert on their attempts, so it wasn’t difficult to stay calm against Tulsa’s penalty kicks.

“I just knew I had to at least make one because I know how well we can take penalties,” Hubbard said. “I just know, and the team knows as well, that I just have to get one and we’re going to win the penalty shootout. I happened to get three, but it helped that their penalties were great. It really takes pressure off my shoulders when I know they’re going to make them.”

Up 2-0 in penalty kicks in the fourth frame, graduate student defender Max Lachowecki stepped up with the opportunity to advance the Irish to the third round of the NCAA tournament. The team’s tri-captain drilled the ball over Tulsa junior goalkeeper Jake McGuire’s outstretched right hand and hit the back of the net.

Hubbard said despite the solid win, the Golden Hurricane were always knocking on the door ready to retaliate on any Irish threat.

“They only broke us down a few times, so I really didn’t really face too many shots, but they were always dangerous,” Hubbard said. “They always had so many men forward, and they’d always tried to press the ball. It was tough because they were always on the edge of becoming very dangerous. It was always concerning, but we handled it pretty well.”

Notre Dame dominated Tulsa early in the first half of regulation, moving the offense across the field with short, efficient passing while keeping the opposition away from their half of the field. The careful, methodical play of the Irish led to sophomore forward Jeffrey Farina’s goal in the 24th minute.

After receiving a pass from Gallagher on the left side of the field, Lachowecki crossed it in front of Tulsa’s goal where Farina knocked in the pass for a goal. Despite the early dominance, the team came out flat in the second half, which allowed Tulsa to advance offensively into the Notre Dame box.

In the 61st minute, Dee crossed the ball towards the box where it was deflected off of the left post of the goal. Freshman forward Juan Sanchez then hit the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer.

“I felt that we never settled into the second half, and we knew that they would come out and press us very hard and put a big push at the beginning of the half,” Irish head coach Bobby Clark said. “It knocked us a little bit out of our rhythm, and then they got the goal, and I think we then started to chase it from passion riling from our heads. We had to get discipline back. We were really working hard. I think it was a tremendous effort in the second half, but they weren’t thinking at that time.

“I thought we still, towards the end of the second half, dominated the game … but they were a very dangerous team. I thought in the two overtimes we took over the game fairly comfortably because I think we got our discipline back at that point and we began to play.”

After frantically trying to get back into a comfortable tempo, the Irish regrouped offensively and continued to dominate possession creating several scoring opportunities. In the second half and two overtime periods, the Irish outshot the Golden Hurricane 10 shots to eight.

In the 96th minute, after Tulsa sophomore midfielder Rollie Rocha received a yellow card, an Irish free-kick opportunity deflected towards Farina, who hit the left goal post for the potential game-winning goal. After hitting the post, the ball rolled across a wide open goal and was cleared by a Tulsa defender.

Despite the dominating effort, the game headed to a penalty shootout, where Hubbard shined.

Lachowecki said recognizes the NCAA tournament is a different beast from the regular season. Of the 48 teams in the tournament field, every club is capable of winning, according to Lachowecki.

“It’s funny when you play a team like Tulsa from a different conference just because we’re so used to playing some of the best teams from the ACC,” Lachowecki said. “Sometimes you get into a false sense of security that we’re just going to go out and beat a team like this, but these teams are dangerous. … Any team can beat you.”

As the Irish prepare for their matchup next week against No. 7 Maryland, Lachowecki said the focus will be on bringing over their offensive success in practice to the field.

“We hope to put in more in the back of the net than we did today,” the Evansville, Indiana, native said. “That’s just kind of how soccer is. We’ve been working hard in practice and guys have been finishing great. Sometimes that translates to the field and sometimes it doesn’t … a win is a win in the tournament, and I think if you’re on the other side of it, then you’re wishing you could’ve won any way you could, so we’re glad we did.”

Notre Dame and Maryland will meet in the third round of the NCAA tournament next Sunday at Alumni Stadium at 2 p.m.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

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