Notre Dame given first loss of season in heartbreaking fashion vs. Louisville
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, September 19, 2016
It was the first time No. 1 Notre Dame was left scoreless in their last nine games. The Irish (6-1-0, ACC 1-1) fell for the first time this season losing 1-0 to ACC foe Louisville in a game that seemed to go Notre Dame’s way in nearly every aspect of the game.
Surrounded by a hostile crowd of 4,043 Cardinals’ fans fans at Lynn Stadium, Notre Dame outshot Louisville (5-1-1, ACC 2-0-0) 6-3, had six corners to the Cardinals’ three and committed fewer fouls throughout the course of the contest. But none of that made a significant difference in stopping the Irish from losing.
In the 25th minute, Louisville junior forward Mohamed Thiaw received a pass from junior defender Joey Kunkel and fired it into the back of the net 35 yards out to give Louisville an early 1-0 lead. Thiaw, a junior college transfer from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College who was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American twice, needed just two shots to do the trick against an Irish defense that allows just .32 goals per game, which ranks tied for fourth best in the country. It was his fourth goal of the season, which leads Louisville.
After Thiaw’s goal, the Irish struggled to finish on opportunities. Four minutes after the Louisville goal, graduate student midfielder Evan Panken sent a corner that failed to place the Irish on the scoreboard. Right before the half, sophomore midfielder Thomas Ueland connected on a header but was off the mark of the goal.
Notre Dame began the second half with two more corner kicks dished out by Panken, but again, the Irish could not find a way to make them count against Louisville’s stout defense. Notre Dame had just three of its six shots made on goal — all by junior forward Jon Gallagher. Louisville held the Irish to 10 shots below its average per game, and Louisville graduate student goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland had a strong showing with three saves as he recorded his third consecutive shutout. The game marked the first time Notre Dame has failed to score a goal in a regular season game since October 16 of last year versus Virginia.
Notre Dame’s best scoring opportunity came in the 85th minute on the foot of Jon Gallagher who fired off a shot from inside the box. Cleveland was quick to react, however and punched the ball over the crossbar and kept the Irish scoreless.
As tough as the Cardinals’ defense was on Notre Dame’s offense, the Irish also showcased a dominant defense in the second half holding Louisville to one shot in the game’s closing period. The Cardinals have managed to average 13.3 shots per game through seven games this season.
Notre Dame will return to Alumni Stadium continuing to play through the ACC slate of its schedule Friday. Syracuse, who defeated the Irish 1-0 last season in the ACC final, will be the Notre Dame’s third conference opponent this season. The rematch of last season’s conference tournament title will kick off at 7 p.m.