Sept. 30, 2016
by Tony Jones
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A pair of goals from conference scoring leader Jon Gallagher and a strong defensive performance enabled the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team to emerge with a convincing 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory over Pittsburgh on Friday night at rainy Ambrose Urbanic Field.
No. 1/2 Notre Dame (8-1-0, 3-1-0 ACC) claimed its second straight conference win behind the second multi-goal performance of 2016 from Gallagher. The junior striker finished assists from Blake Townes and Thomas Ueland at 21:47 and from Townes at 86:11 to vault Gallagher into the ACC lead with eight goals (19 points) over his first nine starts this season.
Notre Dame finished the contest with an 11-3 shots edge over Pittsburgh (2-6-2, 0-3-1 ACC), including a perfect 7-0 mark in the first half. The Irish also enjoyed a 10-3 margin in attempted corner kicks on the night, including an 8-2 tally in corners during the second half alone.
Notre Dame found the scoreboard for the first time in the 22nd minute, created by a Ueland led pass to a strong Townes run into the right corner of the Pittsburgh defensive third following an Irish throw-in. Townes laced a nifty crossing pass in front to a driving Gallagher, where Gallagher finished the feed into the lower left corner past Panthers goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt for his seventh goal of the year and a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
Pittsburgh attempted to strategically work the counterattack during the second half after the Notre Dame defense brilliantly held the Panthers without an official shot attempt in the first 45 minutes of play. The approach nearly found the equalizer in the 68th minute, as Panthers leading scorer Luca Mellor got free in the Notre Dame third and ripped a strong try that bent toward the right post. Irish goalkeeper Chris Hubbard made a sprawling punch save diving to his left to stone Pittsburgh and thwart the damage. Hubbard finished the match with three total stops for his fifth shutout of the season.
Notre Dame put the match away for good in the 87th minute. Townes jumped a Pittsburgh clearance attempt and lofted a high feed over the Panther defense to find Gallagher in space up the left wing. Gallagher broke Outcalt down 1V1 shaded left post and ripped a curving shot into the right corner of the mesh for his second goal of the match and the final 2-0 Irish verdict.
Notre Dame is back in action on Oct. 4, welcoming regional rival and eight-time NCAA champion Indiana back to Alumni Stadium for a nonconference matchup. Coverage of the 7 p.m. (ET) match will be available via ACC Network Extra.
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.
Play of the Game
Thomas Ueland won possession after a Notre Dame throw-in deep in Pittsburgh territory and skillfully sent Blake Townes through toward the Panthers end line in the right corner. A dart of a centering pass hit an open Jon Gallagher in stride, and Gallagher buried his ACC-leading seventh goal of 2016 at 21:47 for the 1-0 Irish advantage.
The throw-in that ultimately led to the first Notre Dame goal was created thanks to a strong Gallagher run earlier in the 22nd minute. A lob pass over the top down the right flank hit Gallagher in space, but a nice save by Pittsburgh goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt sent the ball screaming out of play up the sideline. The Irish proceeded into the goal scoring sequence immediately after.
Note of the Game
Notre Dame has now won 14 straight meetings with Pittsburgh dating back to a 2-0 victory on Oct. 5, 2003 in Pittsburgh. The Panthers also fell to 0-25-6 in conference play since joining the ACC alongside the Irish prior to the start of the 2013 campaign.
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.