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ND Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame men’s soccer loses 3-2 to Wake Forest

| Wednesday, March 24, 2021

In one of its highest profile soccer matchups of the year, Notre Dame nearly pulled off the upset over No. 5 Wake Forest at home Saturday.

The Irish (8-6, 4-4 ACC) scored first and set the tone for much of the game, but ultimately conceded a winning goal in minute 89 in a 3-2 loss at Alumni Stadium.

The Irish wasted no time, getting two shots off and earning two corner kicks in the first five minutes of play. While junior defender Philip Quinton went down with an injury early on, the rest of the team got involved, putting pressure on the Wake Forest (10-2-1, 2-0-1 ACC) defense. In the 8th minute, Notre Dame had a long throw in from the left sideline that ricocheted around the 6-yard box before senior midfielder Dawson McCartney drilled a shot into the back of the net.

McCartney joined the Irish roster in December as a transfer from Dartmouth, where he was Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2017. While he didn’t play this past fall season due to the Ivy League’s cancellation of all sports, he recorded eight goals over the course of his previous three seasons with the Big Green.

“I think he’s done great. I think he’s really fit into the to the team really well, just as a person,” head coach Chad Riley said of McCartney. “And then I think we certainly knew what he could do as a player and I think we’ve been really happy with the way he’s been playing.”

But the lead was short-lived. The Demon Deacons mounted a quick response, tying things up 10 minutes later with a goal by Wake Forest sophomore midfielder Omar Hernandez. This maintained throughout the remainder of the half, with neither team able to gain advantage.

Returning for the second half, the Irish once again got out to a quick start, nearly reclaiming the lead on a cross delivered from senior midfielder Townsend Meyer to McCartney. While Wake Forest redshirt first-year goalkeeper Cole McNally made the save, Notre Dame’s patience paid off when Meyer delivered nearly the exact same cross to senior forward Aiden McFadden. McFadden delivered a strong header into the far corner to put the Irish on top with nineteen minutes remaining.

“I think we’ve made good starts to most games,” Riley said. “… I’m proud of the way the groups come on, you know, getting the lead. And obviously, this is the first game I think in a long time that we’ve gotten the lead and we didn’t see it through.”

Like deja vu, the rest of the game was all Wake Forest. Six minutes after McFadden’s goal, Wake Forest first-year midfielder Ryan Fessler snuck a long-range shot past Irish senior goalkeeper Keagan McLaughlin for the equalizer. In the 89th minute, Demon Deacon first-year defender Jahlane Forbes set up junior forward Kyle Holcomb to deliver the dagger over Riley’s team.

Riley described that final minute as a “sucker punch,” but reiterated that he didn’t fault anyone for what happened down the stretch.

“I think you always want to have that composure, in those final 10 minutes or even going into overtime,” Riley said. “It’s just a little kind of an unfortunate series of events that led them to get a kind of fortunate, fortunate look … It just fell for the other team and they capitalized.”

Riley said the late start to the semester put his team at a slight disadvantage in terms of their training timeline but has been pleased with their response.

“We’ve been playing well, training well. I think we got a little bit of a later start than a lot of our opponents [for] the second half of our season due to just the academic calendar,” he said. “… We knew it was a great opportunity in the game, and I think the performance kind of meant that I think we’re a little unfortunate not to get the right result, but I’m really pleased with the way the team played.”

The Irish will return to play this Saturday, hosting North Carolina. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. The will be available to stream on ACC Network Extra.

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