After nearly missing out on a tie opportunity in the final minute of a 1-0 loss against Syracuse last weekend, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team bounced back against the University of Virginia in a 2-1 victory Friday night. This win was mostly by virtue of a final second goal off the foot of first-year midfielder KK Baffour.
The Irish remained deadlocked in a scoring standstill with the 4-2 Cavalier team over the opening 45 minutes of play at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. Despite the mutual shutout throughout the first half, Virginia controlled 58 percent of possession and let fly seven shots on goal compared to just four from the Irish.
The Cavaliers maintained their stranglehold over possession just past the outset of the second half. In minute 68, the Irish produced the match’s first point on a corner kick which trickled into the goal after it was deflected off a Cavalier bystander.
It looked as if the Irish were going to escape with a one-nil victory before Cavalier striker Kome Ubogue poked home the equalizing goal off an in-swinging corner kick in the minute 89.
With less than 40 seconds remaining in the game, Virginia won yet another corner. But sophomore forward Matthew Roou was able to clear the loose ball to Kaffour, who bounded downfield and punched in the game winner with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Head coach Chad Riley was thrilled at his players’ performance coming off a tough loss to an undefeated Syracuse team.
“It’s an unbelievable message to the team,” Riley said. “You have to keep pushing to the very end and to their credit, [this team] does that.”
“Competing from the first to the last whistle [is] a quality we have,” Riley said. “That’s what we always talk about.”
Coach Riley was very complementarity of the toughness of the UVA soccer program and their fans.
“Virginia is one of the greats in the history of college soccer,” he said. “It was a great environment to test our group, and I felt they stood up to it really well.”
The Cavaliers were hot coming off two victories in which they had put up nine total goals to their opponent’s two.
“Virginia is a very good team. We knew that coming in and playing at home. They are one of the best attacking set piece teams that we’ve played against, and they’ve got really good delivery and a lot of guys that are quite big,” Riley said.
“I was really proud of the way that the group handled [UVA] for the most part. Obviously they got one on us, but the group did a great job making sure that that was the only one,” he said.
The Irish went into the match “just thinking about playing against a good team away from home and seeing if you can get a win,” Riley said. It’s a bonus that UVA will a have a “very high RPI at the end of the year.”
Such hard-fought victories will pay out when it comes time for ACC tournament and College Cup seeding.
The Irish will no doubt be riding high as they come upon a slew of home games against Chicago State, UNC and Boston College.
“It’s all about kind of just growing from game to game,” Riley said.
The Irish’s matchup against Chicago State is a 7 p.m. EST kickoff at Alumni Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
Contact Peter Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org.