Bens: Roster depth will prove to be Notre Dame’s greatest asset
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, August 29, 2017
After an exceptional performance this past weekend at the 2017 Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, the Irish continue to add wins to their record and give a glimpse of an extraordinary season.
Friday, Notre Dame (2-0) walked away with a 2-0 victory over San Diego, thanks to a penalty kick from junior midfielder Felicien Dumas in the first half and a fantastic header by senior forward Jeff Farina in the second half. Continuing to add points to the board Sunday against Cal Poly, Farina had two goals, including the game-winner in the 101st minute.
In the first game against the Toreros (0-2), senior forward Jon Gallagher had his moments and was able to cause trouble on the opponent’s half of the pitch, but San Diego heavily guarded him for fear of his reputation. Jumping to Sunday’s game against Cal Poly (0-2), Gallagher found more space to cause chaos. He took 14 shots, but unfortunately none of them were able to find the back of the net. As the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year he is, Gallagher will find a way to create chances despite the extra pressure opponents will apply to him throughout the season, as both San Diego and Cal Poly did at the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament.
As an observation from the weekend, increased pressure on Gallagher only allowed other players to step up and finish, one being Farina — it created opportunities for the rest of the roster. Returning from an injury during last season against Louisville, and recognized as the 2017 Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament Most Outstanding Offensive Player, Farina is reminding everyone how much the Irish missed him. With strong, experienced seniors as examples, the younger players and players with fewer minutes under their belts, including junior forward Ian Aschieris and sophomore forward John Rea have the ability to make Notre Dame that much more difficult to shut down. In addition to the forwards, junior fullbacks Sean Dedrick and Felicien Dumas were also active offensively this weekend, making Notre Dame even more of an offensive threat, as opponents had to be aware of all players on the pitch at all times. Defensively, the back line has handled everything thrown its way so far.
Needless to say, the Irish have talent up and down the entire roster. Although the rest of Notre Dame’s journey will continually be an uphill climb due to its very tough schedule — one of the toughest in the country — its early matches have promised nothing but improvement and persistence to fight its way up the ranks.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.