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ND Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame Men’s Soccer falls to Clemson in College Cup semi-final shootout

| Saturday, December 11, 2021

Notre Dame’s season ended Friday night in Cary, NC with a heartbreaking penalty kick shootout defeat. The Irish fell 5-3 to Clemson in penalties following a 1-1 draw in the College Cup semi-final.

The Irish fell behind early thanks to a stellar strike from just outside the box by Tigers midfielder Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador. Notre Dame drew level soon after however when Jack Lynn fired home a penalty kick to even the score just after the 20th-minute mark.

From there, the match devolved into a chaotic affair, with both teams notching what every time appeared to be a certain chance to take the lead. Most notably for the Irish, Jack Lynn was brought down in the box in a scramble close to the goal line that nearly resulted in a winner or another penalty kick, Clemson threatened the Notre Dame net several times as well.

Come extra-time, the contest for the national-title-game slot continued. The strange tactical chess match that emerged between Clemson’s aggressive pressing style and Notre Dame’s preference for counterattacks seemed to create a bizarre battle. Neither team ever seemed fully comfortable in spells of possession, and changes in transition were plentiful. 

In the second overtime, Clemson goalie George Marks was forced into multiple difficult saves. Most notably, Kyle Genenbacher found himself squared up in a 1 on 1 in front of the net. But each time Marks held firm. And though a late sprint by Lynn from midfield all the way to six yards out created another prime Irish chance, the senior striker misfired, and the two teams entered a shootout. 

From there, the test of nerves began. Both teams traded penalty conversions through the first three attempts, but momentum shifted when Marks guessed correctly on senior Irish defender Philip Quinton’s effort and made a superb diving save. Justin Malou then fired his effort past Irish keeper Bryan Dowd, and Clemson walked off as the winners.

Regardless of the result, Notre Dame ends their season having smashed all apparent expectations from the start of the campaign. Picked by the ACC’s coaches to finish last in the conference, the Irish finished the season as conference champions. A team that struggled to close out games at the start of the season hardened into one of the best defensive teams in both the ACC and country. The Irish remain posed for further runs at hardware down the line, as rookie players Josh Ramsey, Matthew Roou, and Kyle Genenbacher stepped up as immediate contributors. The trio can be expected to continue to fill those roles on Notre Dame’s roster.

The question is how Notre Dame line will up come kickoff in 2022. Though seniors like Jack Lynn, Mohamed Omar, and Philip Quinton made up the teams’ veteran core, it’s uncertain with new COVID rules just which players might actually be gone from the lineup next summer. If the Irish can retain their experienced senior leaders in key areas of the field, expect this team to remain in the hunt for both conference and national titles.

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