Central defender Grant Van De Casteele and the Irish have held their last three opponents without a goal.

#1 Irish To Clash With #10 Cavaliers In ACC Semifinals

Nov. 14, 2013

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#10 VIRGINIA (10-4-4)
#1 NOTRE DAME (12-1-5)

ACC Championship Semifinals
Friday, Nov. 15 – 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Maryland SoccerPlex – Germantown, Md.




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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After 18 matches the No. 1 Notre Dame men’s soccer team still has just one loss on its 2013 resume and the Fighting Irish will have a chance for retribution Friday against No. 10 Virginia in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

The Cavaliers handed the Irish a 2-0 setback on Oct. 26 at Alumni Stadium. Darius Madison scored three minutes before halftime and again two minutes into the second half to give Virginia the win.

“It’ll be nice to get a go at the one team that gave us a blemish on our record,” says Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “It’ll be a hard game because Virginia was the only team I feel that undid us at home this whole season. I feel we’ve had the upper hand in every game we’ve played with the exception of Virginia. It’ll be a tough game, but one we’re looking forward to.”

Notre Dame (12-1-5) and Virginia (10-4-4) will square off at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Friday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. The Irish are the tournament’s No. 2 seed, while the Cavaliers are the sixth seed. The winner will face either Maryland or Clemson on Sunday in the title match.

The two goals surrendered to Virginia in late October were the most allowed by the Irish defense this year and it was just the second time all season that the Fighting Irish were held scoreless.

“Virginia will be a test for us as a team,” says Clark. “We’ll have to see if we can stop them from scoring and we didn’t score in that (first) game either. Tomorrow’s game will be a nice gauge to see where we’ve improved from where we were. We’ll have to defend well as a team and we’ll have to see if we can score some goals. Virginia is a stingy team, they don’t give up many goals.”

The Fighting Irish have allowed just one goal in the four games since the Virginia match. Notre Dame has posted three straight shutouts, including a 1-0 victory Tuesday against Duke in the ACC quarterfinals. The Irish will bring a season-best scoreless streak of 320:25 into Friday’s matchup with the Cavaliers.

Goalkeeper Patrick Wall has not left the pitch this season and has posted eight shutouts while leading the Irish to the nation’s eighth-best goals-against average (0.57). The senior has played behind a stout and stable backline consisting of left back Max Lachowecki (Jr.), right back Luke Mishu (Sr.) and central defenders Grant Van De Casteele (Sr.) and Andrew O’Malley (Sr.). The Fighting Irish are 25-2-5 over the last two seasons when that quartet makes up the starting defense.

“The key for us has been the four guys in the backline,” says Wall. “If you go back and look at the (last three) games, I really haven’t had that many shots to deal with so I can’t really take credit for it. Those guys have played incredible over the past few games and they’ve really stepped up and made a difference.

“I’m extremely excited for Friday’s game. Last time we had a poor performance against Virginia and it was our only loss of the season. We’re excited to get another chance at them and they’re in our way to an ACC trophy.”

— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director