ND Men’s Soccer
Notre Dame to close out three-game road swing at Duke
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, March 12, 2021
Notre Dame will look to stay above .500 in 2020-2021 and rebound from an overtime loss at Virginia when the Irish (6-5, 3-3-0 ACC) finish a three-game road trip to begin the spring season at Duke (3-7-2, 3-4-0 ACC) Friday.
Though the Blue Devils and Irish were knocked out of the fall ACC Tournament by then-No.1 Pitt at the quarterfinal and semifinal stages, respectively, Friday’s matchup in Durham could have postseason implications. With the 2020 NCAA Tournament postponed to the spring due to COVID-19, Notre Dame appears poised to earn an at-large bid. Duke, however, likely needs a string of victories in their final five games, which all come against ACC opponents, to get on the right side of the bubble.
The Irish dropped out of the United Soccer Coaches’ Top-25 after failing to record a single shot on target in Charlottesville last Sunday.
Despite not conceding for the first 184 minutes of the spring season, Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Keagan McLaughlin and his back line were denied a second successive clean sheet by Virginia forward Jeremy Verley in the 95th minute.
After Irish sophomore midfielder Michael Pellegrino conceded a free kick just inside the halfway line, Verley delivered a driven ball into the box that bounced once before nestling into McLaughlin’s top-right corner untouched. With the win, the Cavaliers avenged an October 2-1 double-overtime loss in South Bend.
Following the loss, Notre Dame head coach Chad Riley said he was relatively pleased with his team’s performance.
“Firstly, I am proud of the team’s effort,” he told UND.com. “I thought we had some very good moments in the game. Coming to UVA is always a tough game and credit to them, they found a way in OT. Now it’s time to learn and move on to prep for Duke.”
The Irish were able to find the back of the net at Butler through freshman midfielder Matthew Radivojsa in a 1-0 win to open the spring season in late February.
Riley said his team’s togetherness was critical to their hard-fought victory in Indianapolis.
“Really proud of the team, it was a true team performance,” he told UND.com. “We knew it wouldn’t be perfect with it being our first game in a few months and after only a couple of weeks of training, but the team did a great job of grinding it out.”
To get the offense rolling again Friday, the Irish will likely look to Irish junior forward Jack Lynn and senior midfielder Aiden McFadden for a spark.
Lynn sits third in the ACC with seven goals, despite missing time early in the fall due to injury. In the final regular season game of the fall, Lynn scored a first-half hat trick against Louisville to help the Irish earn a spot in the ACC Tournament with a 4-1 victory.
McFadden is tied for fourth in the conference with four assists, all of which have come from crosses. The Irish No. 10 was selected by Atlanta United FC in the third round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
Senior midfielder Dawson McCartney, a two-time Second Team All-Ivy selection who transferred to Notre Dame from Dartmouth in December, is still awaiting his first appearance in an Irish uniform.
Meanwhile, the balanced Duke attack is led in points and assists by freshman midfielder Nick Pariano, who came off the bench and opened the scoring last time out for the Blue Devils in a 4-2 win over Virginia Tech last Saturday. Three Blue Devils are tied for the team lead in goals with three apiece.
Duke’s defense struggled in the fall, conceding 15 times in eight games. However, the Blue Devils opened up the spring season by allowing just one goal in their first three games.
Kickoff at Koskinen Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. The match will be available to stream on ACC Network Extra.