Sept. 21, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 7
#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0-0, 2-0-0 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-4-0, 0-2-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It is back to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) grind for the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team this weekend. Off to a 2-0 conference start in the ACC Coastal Division, the No. 1 Irish will look to continue their unblemished league record against Virginia Tech on Friday at Thompson Field in Blacksburg, Virginia. The 7 p.m. (ET) match will air live on ACC Network Extra.
Due to the volume of expected traffic for the planned Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame induction event also taking place on Friday night, any fans attending the Irish-Hokies soccer game are asked to park in Lot 2 (Lane Stadium South End Zone lot), Lot 5 (Chicken Hill lot) or Lot 6 (Litton-Reaves lot).
No. 1 Notre Dame (6-0-0, 2-0-0 ACC) returns to Blacksburg for the first time since 2015, where Virginia Tech (3-4-0, 0-2-0 ACC) battled the Irish to a scoreless draw on Oct. 16 of that season. That was the first result conceded by Notre Dame against Virginia Tech in series history, as the Irish enter Friday’s showdown sporting a 6-0-1 (.929) in the all-time series between the teams.
#1 Irish Stall Bowling Green
A game effort from Bowling Green nearly sent the visitors out of Alumni Stadium with a result on Tuesday night. Host Notre Dame had other plans, as goals from Jon Gallagher and Thomas Ueland were the difference for the No. 1 Irish in a 2-1 victory against the Falcons in nonconference play.
Notre Dame improved to 4-0 at Alumni Stadium thus far in 2017, winning its first official home midweek contest of the current season. The Irish outshot Bowling Green by an 18-7 count for the game, including a 6-2 edge in shots on goal. Notre Dame also attempted a season-high 13 corner kicks to just four corners for the Falcons.
Dumas Named ACC DPOTW
On the strength of two primary assists and playing a key role in a team shutout against NC State, Notre Dame junior defender Felicien Dumas was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Dumas earned his first career weekly conference honor, and is the second straight Notre Dame player to be recognized by the ACC after Jon Gallagher was tabbed as last week’s top offensive player.
Dumas leads all ACC defenders with five assists (eighth in the NCAA) in six starts this season, and is eighth in the nation in assists per game at 0.83 per appearance. The junior left back has notched at least one point in four of the first six Notre Dame games. The Irish not only lead the ACC with three shutouts, a 0.49 goals-against average and a .812 save percentage, Notre Dame has conceded the second-fewest shots on goal (16) in the conference through six games with Dumas in the starting XI to rank in the top five of all teams in NCAA Division I men’s soccer in that statistic.
Welcome Back Ueland
In only two games since making his season debut against NC State on Sept. 15, junior Thomas Ueland has made a triumphant return as an impact player in the Notre Dame midfield.
Ueland saw his first action of the 2017 regular season in the opening home ACC game against NC State, coming on for the final 29 minutes of a 3-0 clean sheet victory against the Wolfpack. Ueland followed that up by notching the game-winning goal in the 77th minute of Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Bowling Green. By opening his 2017 goal account with the game-winning strike, Ueland scored his seventh career goal in a Notre Dame uniform. Three of Ueland’s tallies (Tuesday against Bowling Green; 60th minute of the 2015 ACC Championship semifinal at No. 1 Wake Forest; 109th minute at No. 14 Indiana on Aug. 30, 2015) have been game-winning goals.
Gallagher Goal Count Mounts
Despite being shut out of the goal column over his first three starts of the 2017 season, which included a team record 14 shot attempts against Cal Poly on Aug. 27, senior forward/tri-captain Jon Gallagher has exploded on offense as the calendar has changed to September.
Gallagher has scored five goals over the past three Irish contests, converting exactly half (5-of-10) of his shots on goal in that span. The goal barrage began with Gallagher’s first career hat trick in a 3-1 win at Boston College on Sept. 8, and continued with first half goals against NC State (Sept. 15) and Bowling Green (Sept. 19) during Notre Dame’s recent homestand at Alumni Stadium.
Included on the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List in the preseason, Gallagher ranks second in the ACC in goals. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year has scored 19 goals in his past 27 overall starts dating back to the opening game of the 2016 campaign.
Irish Defense Excels
A major component of Notre Dame’s 6-0-0 start to 2017 has been the play of its defender and goalkeeping contingent. The Irish have yielded just three goals and 16 shots on goal thus far this season, and fifth-year senior goalkeeper/tri-captain Chris Hubbard ranks 10th in the NCAA with a 0.49 goals-against average.
Irish In The ACC
In its fifth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 22-7-8 (.703) 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 logged a 12-2-4 (.778) record in home matches during the ACC regular season over the past four years, and has not lost a conference home match since Oct. 3, 2014 (1-0 to Boston College).
Scouting Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech enters Friday’s game with a 3-4-0 record in 2017, most recently downing previously unbeaten Davidson 2-1 on Tuesday. The Hokies are 0-2 in the ACC after facing Duke (3-1) and Virginia (2-1).
Head coach Mike Brizendine is 53-82-22 (.408) in his ninth season at the helm of Virginia Tech, fresh off an NCAA Quarterfinal berth in 2016.
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.