Oct. 7, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 11
#1/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1-0, 3-1-0 ACC) vs. #11 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-2-1, 3-1-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fresh off a thrilling 4-0 win over in-state rival No. 6 Indiana earlier in the week, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team continues its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) campaign on Saturday against No. 11 Wake Forest. The 7 p.m. (ET) match inside Alumni Stadium will air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 1/2 Notre Dame (9-1-0, 3-1-0 ACC) looks for its fourth consecutive decision following its fifth win of 2016 over a fellow top 25 foe with the clean sheet last Tuesday against Indiana. The Irish lead all ACC teams in scoring with 25 goals over the season’s first 10 matches, while only conceding four goals over that same span.
Wake Forest (8-2-1, 3-1-0 ACC) makes its second appearance in the series history against Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium on Saturday. The Demon Deacons fell to the Irish by way of a 4-2 decision on Dec. 1, 2013 during the NCAA Round of 16 on Notre Dame’s path to the program’s first NCAA championship that season.
Single game tickets for the 2016 Notre Dame men’s soccer season remain on sale. Visit und.com/BuyTickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 for more information or to purchase tickets.
Irish Hand IU First Loss Of ’16
Three goals in the first half sprung Notre Dame to a commanding advantage against in-state rival Indiana. An insurance tally in the second half and a bolted back door on the defensive end led the Irish to a 4-0 shutout of the No. 6 Hoosiers on Oct. 4 in front of 1,811 fans at Alumni Stadium.
No. 1/2 Notre Dame won its second straight matchup against Indiana, knocking the Hoosiers from the ranks of the remaining unbeaten teams in Division I soccer. The four-goal margin of victory was the largest ever in an Irish win over Indiana in a series that dates back to 1978.
Gallagher Remains Red Hot
As of the most recent ACC statistics update on Oct. 5, Notre Dame’s Jon Gallagher has staked his claim to the conference lead in both goals and points after the first 10 Irish matches of 2016.
Gallagher cemented his place in the top slot in goals among all ACC players with his second straight multi-goal game, scoring in the 23rd and 24th minutes in the win over Indiana on Oct 4. Adding one assist against the Hoosiers to extend his team-high to four assists this season, Gallagher also paces the ACC with 24 points (10 goals, four assists) entering play this weekend.
Teammate Brandon Aubrey is fourth overall in points with 15 (seven goals, one assist) to lead all ACC defenders.
Townes Finds Offensive Groove
Midfielder Blake Townes has exploded in the offensive third for Notre Dame in his last six starts, scoring one goal and adding four assists during the 5-1 Irish surge.
Townes notched his first career goal during an impressive 4-1 Notre Dame ACC victory over No. 15 Virginia Tech on Sept. 9 to begin the offensive roll. Townes would then add both primary assists in a 2-0 clean sheet at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30 before serving two first half primary helpers in a 4-0 rout of No. 6 Indiana on Oct. 4.
Townes has already established career-highs in both assists (5) and points (7) after 10 starts this season.
Harris Opens Goal Account In Big Way
In his 35th career appearance (30th start) at Notre Dame, Oliver Harris selected an opportune time to connect on his first career collegiate goal. A mainstay as a holding midfielder for the Irish over the past two seasons, Harris needed less than 13 minutes to dash the hopes of No. 6 Indiana by tallying the game-winning goal in the 4-0 Notre Dame shutout.
A through ball from ACC leading scorer Jon Gallagher to Blake Townes allowed Townes to feather a great pass out front to midfield mate Harris, who drilled a header into the right corner for the 1-0 Irish lead at 12:42.
ACC Soccer Continues To Dominate
Notre Dame was one of seven ACC teams included in last week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top 25 poll that was released on Oct. 4. The seven ACC teams included in the current NSCAA rankings lead all conferences in terms of ranked members.
The ACC is a combined 56-14-6 (.776) in nonconference play to pace Division I soccer as of Oct. 7. Notre Dame (Sept. 6 and Sept. 13) and North Carolina (Aug. 30) have previously been the top team in the NSCAA rankings during different weeks of 2016. The Irish are currently the national number one team in two other polls (College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer) entering this week’s matches.
Irish In The ACC
In its fourth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 20-5-6 (.742) conference mark in the regular season since 2013. The Irish shared the ACC regular season championship (7-1-3) in 2013 before claiming the top position in the ACC Coastal Division (6-1-1) in 2014.
Notre Dame has yet to drop back-to-back decisions in the ACC, posting a combined 5-0 mark immediately following a conference loss since 2013. The Irish extended that streak with a 2-1 win over No. 2 Syracuse on Sept. 23 at Alumni Stadium.
Scouting Wake Forest
Wake Forest enters Saturday’s match sporting an 8-2-1 record following a 1-0 setback at No. 5 Clemson in its most recent outing on Sept. 30.
Jacori Hayes leads all Wake Forest players with three goals and two assists after 11 matches, while Ema Twumasi has chipped in two goals and two assists.
Head coach Bobby Muuss is 25-5-3 (.808) in his second season, and led Wake Forest the NCAA Quarterfinals as the national No. 1 seed in 2015.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.