Top-ranked Notre Dame tops Connecticut in double overtime
Joe Everett | Wednesday, September 14, 2016
On a clear Tuesday evening inside Alumni Stadium, No. 1 Notre Dame battled with nonconference foe Connecticut, eventually the besting the Huskies in the second overtime period, 1-0.
The Irish (6-0-0, 1-0-0 ACC) didn’t play their best soccer, but they impressed head coach Bobby Clark with the constant pressure they put on the Huskies (3-3-0, 0-0-0 AAC).
“One of the words [that I’d use to describe the team] is relentless,” Clark said. “I think that’s exactly what they did – I thought in the second half and in the two overtime periods, we just kept doing what we do well.”
After a scoreless but even first half that saw each team take six shots, the Irish threatened with a couple of genuine scoring chances in the second half, but were thwarted each time by Connecticut redshirt junior goalkeeper Scott Levene. The Irish outshot the Huskies 18-8 in the game — including 12-2 after the halftime period — but were always wary of the Connecticut counterattack and thus could not capitalize on several opportunities, according to Clark. The first of the 10-minute overtime periods garnered little excitement, with the Huskies seeming content to come away with a tie, and the Irish unwilling to commit too many people forward.
“I felt we took over, but at the same time I felt they were dangerous enough,” Clark said. “They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of good players, and so I was never relaxed during the game.”
However, in the 103rd minute, senior defender Brandon Aubrey’s lead pass up the wing found the foot of junior forward Jon Gallagher, who promptly powered a shot on goal. The ball split through the hands and legs of Levene and trickled into the goal, ending the game and sending the crowd of 910 inside Alumni Stadium away after a victory for the hosts.
Tuesday’s game was the Irish’s first mid-week game of the year, and thus the team — coming off of classes earlier in the day — looked a bit sluggish to start, as Clark noted.
“This is where we lost it last year — we lost 1-0 to Xavier — and we came out flat, especially in the first half,” Clark said. “I think it’s a little bit harder for the guys, but I thought with the experience from last year — I thought that it was a big effort to do things a little different in our training … and we did our best to solve it.”
The Irish will next take the pitch this Friday, resuming ACC play as they travel to face Louisville in their first ACC road test of the season. It will be magnified after a grueling overtime win, but it’s a win Clark said he will take nonetheless.
“It wasn’t perfect by any manner or means,” Clark said. “I could’ve done without the overtime, because we’ve got another huge game at Louisville on Friday, so we’ll have to make sure that these guys regenerate tomorrow, and that we get ready for Louisville.”