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Irish fall 1-0 to Hokies

| Wednesday, November 4, 2020

On a cold, windy afternoon Monday at Alumni Stadium, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team fell to Virginia Tech 1-0. Head coach Chad Riley described the result as “frustrating.” Notre Dame (3-3, 2-2 ACC) began the game on the attack, dominating the possession in the opening 20 minutes. Notre Dame had two great chances in the 14th minute. Junior forward Jack Lynn had the first shot on goal for either side but was denied by a great save, and senior midfielder Aiden McFadden followed that effort with a header that was just wide of the mark. 

Lynn led the Irish with three shots in the game and leads the team with three goals on the year.

“He’s certainly a goal scorer but he’s more than that, and [he] really brings a lot to our team,” Riley said. 

McFadden had another great opportunity in the 18th minute, but he fired it wide again. Virginia Tech (2-2-1, 2-2-1) ACC found their footing in the last 15 minutes of the half, testing Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Keagen McLaughlin, but the two teams went into the break scoreless. 

“Virginia Tech’s a very good team,” Riley said. “You’ve got to make sure you take your chances when you get them, so [we were] a little bit frustrated not to go into halftime up a goal.” 

After the break, the Hokies finally capitalized on a chance. Following an Irish turnover, Virginia Tech forward Jacob Labovitz found the back of the net from a strong cross.

“We had a number of opportunities to defend better and we didn’t,” Riley said of the goal. “We don’t feel that’s a goal we should give up.”

The Irish put pressure on the Hokies for the remainder of the match, including a last-minute set-piece opportunity, but couldn’t find a way to score.

“[We want to use] our positioning to be a little bit more dangerous and to go forward instead of just keeping it at times,” Riley said of the attack. “I thought we got into dangerous spots and we didn’t try to penetrate their backline.” 

Notre Dame’s record drops to 3-3 with the loss.

“I think there’s a few key moments in the game that we would have wanted to handle better and likely could have got a different result,” Riley said. “But I think overall there were enough positives to take out of it, even when we didn’t probably have our best day.”

Notre Dame plays their final regular-season game of the year Friday night against Louisville. The game will essentially serve as a play-in for the ACC tournament. The top four teams in each region advance to the tournament, and Notre Dame currently sits fourth in the region with six points, and Louisville is fifth with four points. An Irish win or draw would see them through to the tournament, while Louisville needs a win to advance.

“It means everything,” Riley said. “This is what you prepare for. The guys know what it means, and I think they’ve put a lot of work into putting ourselves into a good position with something to play for.”

This will be the second matchup between the two teams this year. Notre Dame was defeated 2-1 on the road on Oct. 3.

“You can certainly learn some things, but at the end of the day I think both teams are probably in quite different places than we were from that game, but certainly some familiarity is nice,” Riley said. “We want to change the outcome for this game, so it’ll be a lot of motivation regardless to get a victory on Friday.”

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Stadium and will be televised on RSN.

About Liam Coolican

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