Irish split key two-game set
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Notre Dame men’s soccer split two games over fall break. The Irish (8-6-1, 2-5 ACC) hosted Michigan at Alumni Stadium on Tuesday.
The game started strong for the Wolverines (7-4-4, 2-1-3 Big Ten) as they dominated possession right after kickoff. They had an early chance when junior midfielder Carlos Tellez deflected a header towards the goal, but Irish senior goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull turned him away with a one-handed save. Neither team had many chances for the rest of the half until right before the break. Irish sophomore midfielder Patrick Coleman fired a shot towards the far post right before halftime, but Michigan senior goalkeeper Andrew Verdi denied him with a strong save.
The Irish came out of the locker room looking rejuvenated, controlling possession and playing with a good pace. Notre Dame had its best chance of the second half when sophomore midfielder Tyler Shea got by the defense and only had the goalkeeper to beat, but Verdi was able to punch the ball away. Then, in the 67th minute, senior Senan Farrelly put a header on target coming off of a corner kick, but again, Verdi was able to save it. Then, only one minute later, graduate student forward Ian Ascheris had a chance from close range, but he misplaced the shot.
Notre Dame lost its edge in the final 10 minutes. With the match still scoreless, Michigan almost scored on a header in the 86th minute, but the shot was just wide of the net. Then, in the 89th minute, they had another clean look, but the shot ricocheted off of the woodwork. With less than two minutes left in the match, Wolverines senior forward Jack Hallahan cut inside the box, and the referee ruled he had been tripped by an Irish defender, awarding Michigan a penalty kick. The decision was upheld after a long discussion between the two officials. Graduate student forward Nebojsa Popovic fired the penalty past Turnbull to give Michigan the 1-0 win.
Notre Dame was almost able to level the score with under 30 seconds to play when graduate student defender Felcian Dumas sent a cross into the box for Coleman. Coleman put it towards the goal, but the ball appeared to deflect off Michigan junior defender Austin Swiech’s arm. The referee ignored the Notre Dame bench’s plea for a handball and their own chance at a penalty kick. Irish sophomore defender Phillip Queintin was given a red card for dissent.
Then, the Irish travelled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for what promised to be a tough contest against No. 2-ranked Wake Forest on Saturday. The Irish started strong with the first scoring chance of the night in the 17th minute when sophomore forward Jack Lynn hit a low header towards the near post off of a cross from Ascheris, but the shot was just wide. Then, in the 21st minute, Coleman dribbled to the edge of the box and fired a shot into the side netting beyond the goalkeeper’s reach to give the Irish an early advantage. Their defense held firm for the rest of the half, and they went into the break leading 1-0.
The Irish defense was all over the field in the second half. Wake Forest (12-3-1, 5-2 ACC) outshot Notre Dame 17-4, and Turnbull made 5 saves, including a full-extension effort in the 56th minute to deny Wake Forest of a sure goal. Wake also controlled possession for 62% of the match, but Notre Dame consistently rallied behind the ball and defended crosses well. They had very little sustained pressure in the second half, but the defense was able to secure the win. The victory over Wake Forest is the highest ranked win for the Irish since upsetting the then-No. 1 Demon Deacons in the 2015 ACC Championship semifinals.
This was a critical win for Notre Dame, as a road win against the No. 2 team will likely mean a lot to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Committee when deciding who makes the tournament. The Irish play their final regular season game Friday at 7 p.m. against Pittsburgh for Senior Night.