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ND Men’s Soccer

Second-half surge keeps Irish atop ACC with win at NC State

| Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Davina Russell
Irish senior defender Paddy Burns waits for play to resume during Notre Dame’s 3-2 defeat of Clemson at Alumni Stadium on Sep. 9, 2023.

Over the past calendar year, Dail Soccer Field in Raleigh has emerged as a difficult place to win. NC State men’s soccer hadn’t lost there since Sep. 30, 2022, winning or drawing 11 consecutive matches since. 

On Sunday night, Notre Dame broke that streak. With a second-half outburst, the No. 15 Irish comfortably achieved a second consecutive 3-1 victory, advancing to 6-1-3 (3-0-1 ACC). And, by way of Clemson’s takedown of Virginia Tech, Notre Dame’s Coastal Division lead grew to three points. 

After falling behind on a set piece in the 34th minute, Chad Riley’s side regrouped and buried the Wolfpack in the final 45 minutes. Outshooting NC State 13-5 after halftime, the Irish struck thrice in a 35-minute span. The goals came from junior forward Matthew Roou (49’), senior defender Paddy Burns (65’) and junior forward Eno Nto (84’). With the three-goal output, Notre Dame continues its best offensive start to ACC play program history. Since joining the ACC in 2013, no Irish team has scored 10 times in its first four games until now.

In conference match number four of 2023, Notre Dame thrived early in Raleigh. The Irish generated the game’s first five shots, including a brilliant look from midfielder Ethan O’Brien. Weaving through traffic alone in the 18th minute, the graduate student executed a flawless move to free up a 17-yard shooting lane. But Wolfpack goalkeeper Lucas Hatsios deflected the left-footed try just past the far post, preserving the scoreless tie.

In the 35th minute, the scoreless tie was no more. On an NC State corner kick, leading scorer Luke Hille waited just inside the penalty spot with junior defender Josh Ramsey marking him. Upon the ball’s arrival, junior forward Michael Rossi bumped into Ramsey. As a result, neither jumped in time with Hille’s leap, and the junior’s header found the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Four moments later, NC State nearly captured another goal off a set piece. Henrique Santos settled an errant corner kick just outside the 18-yard box, wiring a wicked half-volley that hardly missed the upper right-hand corner. Santos would attempt another long-distance shot early in the second half. But senior keeper Bryan Dowd gathered it for one of his four saves on the night.

At that point, Notre Dame took over. On the ensuing counterattack, sophomore midfielder KK Baffour clipped a beautiful ball to Roou, playing him on goal between two defenders. Roou knocked the ball forward before chipping it above the indecisive charge of Hatsios for the equalizer. That goal, Roou’s team-high seventh of the year, breathed life back into Notre Dame.

With that new life, the Irish pummeled Hatsios and the Wolfpack defense. Within 10 minutes of the tying goal, Roou and O’Brien each tested the keeper with close-range shots on the run. And though Hatsios denied both, Notre Dame beat him again in due time.

The go-ahead goal began with a pinpointed long ball from Burns, which Rossi ran under in the 18. With a smooth, turning first touch, Rossi forced an aggressive tackle from Lawson Abass. The referee immediately deemed a penalty kick necessary and replay upheld his ruling. That brought Burns up to the spot, where he had previously succeeded once in two attempts. As Hatsios dove to his right, the left-footed Burns went the opposite way for the go-ahead goal, his second of the season.

With less than seven minutes remaining, Notre Dame added one more for good measure. Catching his mark flat-footed, junior defender Kyle Genenbacher ran onto the ball at the edge of the 18, charging hard to the end line. His subtle cross found the feet of Nto, whose redirection nicked off a defender, leaving Hatsios without a play. 

In total, the Irish outshot NC State 20-10, posting 13 shots after halftime. Notre Dame capitalized on the Wolfpack’s inability to limit damage as well, becoming the third team to score three times in a half against the Pack. In contrast, the Irish still have conceded multiple goals only once in 2023.

Notre Dame’s next two conference games against Duke and Virginia Tech will challenge its Coastal Division lead. The No. 21 Blue Devils visit South Bend on Saturday for a 7 p.m. tilt at Alumni Stadium with ACC Network Extra carrying the game.

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About Tyler Reidy

Tyler is a sophomore who serves as an Associate Sports Editor at The Observer. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, and Keough Hall, he enjoys road trips, all things collegiate athletics and Kansas City barbecue. Reach out here or @TylerJReidy on Twitter!

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