Sept. 29, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 9#1/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1-0, 2-1-0 ACC) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (2-5-2, 0-2-1 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In the next step toward cementing its standing as one of the top teams in the NCAA, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team returns to the road to face Pittsburgh on Friday night in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play. The 7 p.m. (ET) match at Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh will air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 1/2 Notre Dame (7-1-0, 2-1-0 ACC) looks to continue its conference momentum after knocking off previously unbeaten and national top two squad Syracuse 2-1 on Sept. 23 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish will play only their second true road match thus far in 2016 at Pittsburgh (2-5-2, 0-2-1 ACC), and have notched a 6-1-2 all-time mark as visitors against the Panthers.
“This is a hard game, and it’s never been an easy game even though we’ve beaten (Pittsburgh) in the past,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It was never easy to begin with, and certainly when we’ve played in Pittsburgh. Now they’ve got Jay Vidovich, certainly one of the most successful coaches the ACC ever had when he was at Wake Forest for 21 years. Jay is a very good coach and has already made his mark.”
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 Drop Orange Behind Gallagher Heroics
In what could arguably be called one of the greatest games in stadium history, a left-footed blast into the upper 90 by Jon Gallagher with 18 seconds remaining powered Notre Dame to a thrilling 2-1 win over No. 2 Syracuse on Sept. 23 before more than 2,400 fans at a jam-packed Alumni Stadium.
After outshooting Syracuse by a 10-4 margin in the first half, No. 3 Notre Dame withstood an Orange second half surge that included a 79th minute equalizer to notch the crucial Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win. The Irish ultimately finished with a 14-12 edge in shots, including a 5-3 count on goal.
Gallagher drove his sixth goal of 2016 past Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert and into the left corner of the Orange net from more than 20 yards out to give Notre Dame the win at 89:42. The winning score was Gallagher’s second straight game-winner at home, after the junior striker found the back of the net in the 103rd minute of a 1-0 win over UConn on Sept. 13.
ND Win #200 For Coach Clark
The Syracuse victory was the 200th win at Notre Dame for head coach Bobby Clark. In his 16th season at the helm of the Irish, Clark improved to 200-80-51 during his Notre Dame tenure.
Clark, the all-time wins leader among Irish men’s soccer mentors, joined legendary women’s coach Randy Waldrum (292) as the only Notre Dame soccer coaches to surpass 200 wins at the University.
Aubrey And Gallagher Remain Among ACC Points Leaders
As of the most recent ACC statistics update on Sept. 29, Notre Dame’s Jon Gallagher shared the league lead with Louisville’s Mohamed Thiaw with 15 points each after the first eight Irish starts. Brandon Aubrey checked in solo third with 13 points.
Aubrey and Gallagher are tied for second in the conference with six goals apiece, while Gallagher has added three assists to reach his team points lead. Aubrey has chipped in one helper thus far in 2016.
Casey Opens Account In Big Way
Freshman Jack Casey made the most of his season-high 36 minutes against No. 2 Syracuse on Sept. 23, providing Notre Dame with a crucial spark after twice entering the match as a reserve.
Casey finished a great feed to the front of the net from tri-captain Evan Panken in the 45th minute for his first career goal. The midfielder then added his first assist with the final pass to spring Jon Gallagher for the game-winning goal with 18 seconds remaining.
Casey, the 10th different Notre Dame player to register at least one point this season, was named to the current TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week in recognition of his effort against Syracuse.
ACC The Dominant League In College Soccer
Notre Dame was one of seven ACC teams included in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top 25 poll that was released on Sept. 27. The seven ACC teams included in the current NSCAA rankings lead all conferences in terms of ranked members.
The ACC is a combined 51-11-5 (.799) in nonconference play to pace Division I soccer.
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) as of Sept. 29.
Irish Success In The ACC
In its fourth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 19-5-6 (.733) 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 the 2-1 win over No. 2 Syracuse on Sept. 23.
Pittsburgh enters Friday’s match with a 2-5-2 record this season, fresh off a 2-1 nonconference victory at Longwood on Sept. 26. The Panthers remain in search of their first ACC win in their fourth season as a conference member, with a 0-24-6 league mark in 30 starts since joining the ACC in 2013.
Luca Mellor leads all Pittsburgh players with three goals over his first nine matches, including one game-winning goal. Matt Venanzi has chipped in a pair of goals for the Panthers.
Head coach Jay Vidovich is in his first season at the helm of Pittsburgh after posting a 272-121-50 (.670) record at Wake Forest from 1994-2014.
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.