Irish season ends with 2-1 loss to Terrapins
Daniel O'Boyle | Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Down 2-0 in the face of heavy pressure, a goal late in the first half kept No. 7 Notre Dame’s tournament hopes alive for 45 more minutes. Still needing a goal, a red card for a Maryland defender raised those hopes for the final 12. But the season ended for the Irish on Sunday as they couldn’t score again, losing 2-1 to the No. 10 Terrapins in the tournament’s third round.
The rematch of the 2013 NCAA Championship Game started slowly, as neither the Irish (11-4-6, 4-2-2 ACC) nor the Terrapins (11-5-5, 3-2-3 Big Ten) could create anything resembling a serious chance for 20 minutes. When a free kick from Maryland senior midfielder Mael Corboz 30 yards from the goal met the head of junior defender Ivan Magalhaes in the 21st minute, it was the first shot of the game. When it flew past Notre Dame’s static junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard, it also proved to be the first goal.
Irish head coach Bobby Clark said giving away set pieces in dangerous areas against the Terrapins was always likely to be costly.
“That goal came off a free kick,” Clark said. “If we don’t foul, we don’t give the free kick away. We talked about it before and we knew that they’ve got a few big weapons and very good delivery from their free kicks. Between the delivery and the big targets, set pieces were very important.”
After the goal, Maryland pressed hard for a second. Freshman midfielder Amar Sejdic shot wide from the edge of the box, senior forward David Kabelik attempted an audacious back-heel flick that just narrowly sailed over the goal and junior midfielder Michael Sauers headed a cross wide before a dipping free kick from Corboz on the very edge of the box struck the top of the crossbar and bounced clear.
After the dominant spell, Maryland’s second goal did eventually come in the 38th minute, as freshman forward Eryk Williamson brought down a header from Corboz and slotted the ball into the corner of the goal.
The Irish had few chances for most of the first half. Senior midfielder Patrick Hodan curled a free kick wide to the right in the best Irish opportunity of the first 40 minutes. Barely two minutes after the Terrapins doubled their lead, though, a corner from senior midfielder Evan Panken found sophomore defender Patrick Berneski, whose low header sent the ball into the net.
It was the Terrapins who had the first chances of the second half, though. Sejdic had a chance to bring the difference back to two goals with an acrobatic volley, but Hubbard got down low to save the shot.
But after the 60th-minute re-introduction of sophomore forwards Jon Gallagher and Jeffrey Farina from the bench, the Irish looked hard for an equalizer. A powerful shot from sophomore midfielder Blake Townes, two shots from far out by graduate student defender Max Lachowecki, a close-range chance for Farina and a low cross by Gallagher all came close, but Notre Dame couldn’t tie the game. Clark said he was impressed with how his team fought back in the second half.
“The second half, we obviously had to go for it, because you’re a goal behind, so you’ve got to chase the game, and I thought we chased it really well,” Clark said. “When Jon and Jeffrey came on in the second half, I thought they were superb. Jeffrey especially was tremendous, holding balls and linking with players. I thought our fullbacks were getting into wide areas; they were really auxiliary wingers in the first half, so that gave us a lot offensively. [Senior midfielder] Connor Klekota too, put in a fantastic shift — he’s been injured the past few weeks but he was fantastic.”
With time running out, the Irish gained an advantage for the latter stages of the game, as the Terrapins were reduced to 10 men as the referee showed Magalhaes a second yellow card after a tangle with Gallagher. Clark said the red card gave his team a chance to equalize.
“Obviously they were just going to try to hang on for the last 12 minutes, so we knew we could push people higher forward,” Clark said. “We kept playing and we kept taking chances, but we just couldn’t make them.”
The Irish worked hard to make the most of the extra man. Farina and Panken both headed over the bar, while the undermanned Maryland defense held firm against long spells of Irish possession. After an off-target header from junior defender Brandon Aubrey and a blocked shot from Gallagher, team captain Hodan had the final chance for the Irish with 15 seconds left, but his shot from an angle was too high.
Clark said failing to win is always a disappointment, but that he was proud of his team.
“Unless you win the whole thing, it’s always going to be difficult — you’re always going to be disappointed,” Clark said. “This senior class has just been such a terrific group of young men. I wish we could have taken them a bit further, but they’ve won a lot and it’s been a fun group of boys to coach.”