Oct. 25, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On a night when the top-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team honored its seniors, it was the Fighting Irish underclassmen that sent their veteran counterparts off in style.
Notre Dame (9-4-2, 5-1-1 ACC) collected goals from sophomore Matt Habrowski (Berkley, Mich./Brother Rice), junior Patrick Hodan (Brookfield, Wis./Marquette Univ. High School) and freshman Jon Gallagher (Dundalk, Ireland/Greens Farms Academy) to ease past Virginia Tech, 3-1, in Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division action on Saturday before a Senior Night crowd of 1,347 fans at Alumni Stadium.
With the victory, Notre Dame goes back on top the ACC Coastal Division with 16 points, one more than North Carolina. Each side has one conference match remaining this season, both on Nov. 1 (Notre Dame at Pittsburgh; UNC plays host to Virginia).
“I thought in the first half that we controlled the game really nicely and even into some of the second half,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “Some of the positives I saw were the play of (junior defender) Michael Shipp and Matt Habrowski, who were terrific in the back, starting in place of two of our normal four. Matt got that first goal and Michael looked superb back there all night, like he’d been playing there all his life.”
Notre Dame was on the front foot much of the night, finishing with a 16-6 edge in total shots, including an 8-1 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also earned a 6-4 advantage over the Hokies on corner kicks, while fouls were 18-6 against Virginia Tech (the Hokies also collected all four yellow cards issued during the match).
Notre Dame had an even larger shot edge in the first half, earning eight of the nine tries in the period. The Fighting Irish had three early corner kicks and then drew a penalty kick in the 21st minute when Virginia Tech’s Alessandro Mion was whistled for a handball in the box. However, Hodan sent his try from the spot wide of the mark and the score remained 0-0.
It didn’t stay scoreless for long, though, as Habrowski put the home side on the board in the 23rd minute with his first career goal, poking home a loose ball from close range after Hodan’s initial shot was saved by Hokies’ goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard.
Hodan then doubled Notre Dame’s lead in the 66th minute, thanks to some quick thinking from his classmate, midfielder Connor Klekota (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele). After Virginia Tech was called for a foul in the deep left corner of the Notre Dame attacking third, Klekota alertly put the ball down for a quick restart, slipping a through-ball to Hodan, who was steaming down the left side of the penalty area and needed just one touch to get free and fire a low eight-yard shot inside the far right post.
Virginia Tech (7-6-2, 2-4-1) wouldn’t go quietly, pulling a goal back less than two minutes later when Ricardo John took a long lead pass at the top left of the box, cut by a defender and slotted home a 12-yard shot inside the far right post.
“The disappointing thing to me was that we were comfortably sailing at 2-0 and we gave up a ‘lack of concentration’ goal,” Clark said. “That was disappointing because we had talked about that at halftime, about how dangerous they are on the counterattack and their No. 11 (John) is very fast up front. We knew that and we let ourselves down, there’s no question.”
Gallagher ended any hopes of a Hokie comeback in the 88th minute, getting behind the Virginia Tech defense on a breakaway and burying his 15-yard shot past an onrushing Lundgaard.
“They (Virginia Tech) weren’t very direct there at the end, but they have got some big boys in the back there, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3 and such,” Clark said. “So I was quite happy to see Jon’s goal there late.”
Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall (Sugarland, Texas/Strake Jesuit College Prep) was not asked to make a save in the Fighting Irish net, while Lundgaard was credited with five saves between the pipes for Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame will step out of conference play one final time during the regular season when it welcomes No. 10/18 Michigan State to Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday – the match will be streamed live and free of charge on WatchND.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director