No. 10 Irish remain undefeated with Berticelli tournament win
Notre Dame started off its regular season on the right foot this weekend by winning the 2017 Mike Berticelli Memorial tournament inside Alumni Stadium after victories against San Diego and Cal Poly. While Indiana also won both of its tournament games, the Irish officially won on total goals, 4-3, clinching their eighth victory in tournament history.
Coming into the weekend after a successful preseason, the Irish (2-0-0) continued to make their mark with a 2-0 victory against the Toreros (0-2-0) on Friday night. Outshooting their opponent 17-2, the Irish dominated on their home field. Senior Kyle Dedrick caused chaos in the Toreros’ box, forcing a deflection off the hand of a San Diego defender. In the 41st minute, junior defender Felicien Dumas marked his first career goal after taking the penalty kick, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.
For the remainder of the first half, the Toreros struggled to gain possession and create any possible chances, registering zero shots in the first 45 minutes. Returning the field after halftime, San Diego played more direct and tried to get the ball behind the Irish, but Notre Dame’s defense held firm. In the 82nd minute, San Diego had a promising shot towards the left post, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.
With the game still up in the air, Notre Dame claimed their victory with another goal in the 84th minute. Sophomore Tommy McCabe connected with Dumas on the left wing, and he crossed it to unmarked senior forward Jeff Farina at the right post, who headed the ball into the net for his seventh career goal.
Building upon their winning streak, Irish head coach Bobby Clark said he continues to be pleased with his team’s performance.
“You’re always hoping you will play well because we haven’t really seen both of the teams coming in here [in San Diego and Cal Poly],” Clark said. “They’re kind of coming in unseen. But the thing was to play well, and I thought we played superbly well in the first half. We connected our passes, we made some pretty good chances but didn’t take them, and got our goal on the penalty kick.
“ … We let them hang around, and they came out and went very direct, tried to knock everything in behind us, and that caused us some problems. It gave us something different to deal with, they stopped trying to pass their way through and tried to knock their way through. I thought the whole back line — [senior] Patrick Berneski, [graduate student] Matt Habrowski, [juniors] Sean Dedrick and Felicien Dumas — the whole four in the back handled it pretty well.”
Although Notre Dame came out on top, the Irish had to consistently work around the Toreros’ defense before penetrating through. San Diego notably kept an eye on Irish senior forward Jon Gallagher, but Clark said he is confident Gallagher will deal with the pressure.
“Jon did well,” Clark said. “He still caused trouble, and he had his moments. He is going to be a marked man, it’s something he has to live with [because] he has the reputation now. You know, Messi, Ronaldo — when they’re playing every week, that’s what they deal with. Jon will handle it, and that should open up space for other players as well.”
Against Cal Poly, Gallagher found a bit more space to work with. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year fired off a record 14 shots against the Mustangs (0-2-0), but none found the back of the net, mostly due to strong goalkeeping by Cal Poly juior Simon Boehme.
After Dumas and Farina connected on another cross and header to give the Irish a lead in the eighth minute, Boehme — who made 12 saves — denied the Irish again and again to ensure the game remained close. While the Irish outshot the Broncos 30-11 and kept the ball in their opponent’s half for most of the game, Cal Poly made the most of their opportunities. The Mustangs tied the game at one in the 83rd minute when a saved shot by graduate student goalkeeper Chris Hubbard rebounded out of his reach, allowing Mustangs junior midfielder Jose Rivera to slot the ball into the back of the net and send the game into overtime. While the Irish had many chances but few results, Clark said he liked what he saw from the offense.
“They make chances,” Clark said. “When a goalkeeper has that many saves, you know you’re getting offense and making opportunities. I think we could’ve had more goals, but as long as we have one more than the opposition, I’ll settle for that.”
And that one goal the Irish needed came in overtime. Just after the start of the second overtime period, Farina took a pass at the top of the box from Habrowski and sniped a shot from just inside the box past Boehme, giving the Irish a golden goal and a dramatic 2-1 victory. Evidenced by Farina’s three-goal weekend, Clark said having the senior back in the lineup brings a major boost to the team, as does having a great pitch to play on.
“He’s been fantastic all preseason,” Clark said. “When we lost him last year … we struggled to put things together, so it’s great having the big man back. He and Jon are a tremendous tandom. We’re a passing team, and so full marks to [the grounds crew] — this is the best shape the field’s ever been in.”
Next up, the Irish hit the road to face UConn on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Morrone Stadium.