Sept. 12, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 6
#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0-0) vs. UConn Huskies (3-2-0)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A Tuesday showdown between a pair of former BIG EAST rivals take center stage at Alumni Stadium. The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team welcomes UConn to campus for the first time since 2011 for a crucial nonconference matchup. The 7 p.m. (ET) contest on Tuesday will air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 1 Notre Dame (5-0-0) and UConn (3-2-0) are to set to face off for the first time since the semifinal round of the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Irish emerged victorious with a 1-0 decision on their way to a third and final BIG EAST tournament championship.
Season and 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 Top Hokies Behind Aubrey Triple
Senior center back Brandon Aubrey continued his forceful offensive opening to the 2016 season on Sept. 9 against Virginia Tech. Aubrey connected on his first career hat trick, which featured two goals within five minutes, to propel No. 1 Notre Dame to a 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory over the No. 15 Hokies at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame improved to 6-0-1 all-time against Virginia Tech, including a perfect 3-0 record on the Notre Dame campus. The Irish have now outscored the opposition 16-2 during their first five matches of the regular season.
Aubrey Also Packs Punch On Offense
The Notre Dame back line has yielded two goals on 62 opposing shots in five starts during Notre Dame’s perfect start to the 2016 season, which has featured three straight victories over ranked competition. One of the key components of the strong defensive play, center back Brandon Aubrey, has also emerged as the team’s most dangerous offensive player.
Aubrey logged his first collegiate hat trick in a 4-1 win over No. 15 Virginia Tech on Sept. 9, tallying the final three Notre Dame goals. Aubrey was successful on his third penalty kick attempt of the season at 15:09, drove home a header off a tri-captain Evan Panken free kick at 77:29 and blasted home a free kick of his own at 82:27 for the first Notre Dame hat trick since Ryan Finley scored three goals against Providence on Oct. 20, 2012.
Aubrey is the ACC leader with six goals over his first five starts, tied for fourth most among all Division I players in the NCAA. Aubrey also paces the ACC in points (12), points per game (2.40) and goals per game (1.20) as of the most recent conference statistics report on Sept. 12.
Townes Jumps On The Scoresheet
Following a corner kick clearance by Virginia Tech on Sept. 9 in the 13th minute, midfielder Blake Townes settled the ball just over 20 yards from the Notre Dame goal. Townes ripped a strike from 23 yards underneath the right post and crossbar for his first career goal and a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
Townes’ first collegiate goal came in his 27th career Notre Dame game, on just his third official shot on goal. Townes became the 10th active Irish player (sixth of 2016) to score at least one career goal at Notre Dame.
Opponents Still Tracking Gallagher
Striker Jon Gallagher was recognized as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Offensive Player of the Week and the College Soccer News National Player of the Week on Sept. 6 following a six-point performance at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington. Gallagher was the first Notre Dame player to earn conference weekly accolades during the 2016 season.
Gallagher broke through for the tying goal for Notre Dame in the 86th minute against defending NCAA champion Stanford on Sept. 2, as the Irish ultimately defeated the No. 15 Cardinal 2-1 in double overtime at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. The Dundalk, Ireland native was a force for Notre Dame once more in the tournament finale against No. 22 California (Sept. 4), logging the primary assist on the game-winning goal just 38 seconds into the match. Gallagher would add a goal and a second assist in a 5-0 Irish shutout of the Golden Bears to secure tournament Offensive MVP honors.
Through five starts in 2016, Gallagher is the Notre Dame leader with three assists and ranks second with four goals and 11 points. He has attempted 18 total shots, with 12 tries officially finding goal (.667) to pace the Irish attack.
Hubbard Notches Historic Assist
Goalkeeper Chris Hubbard logged his second career collegiate assist by finding dynamic striker Jon Gallagher alone behind the California defense with a bounding goal kick in the 13th minute. Gallagher finished the breakaway pass for his fourth goal in four matches at 12:57, with Hubbard receiving credit for the primary point with the lead pass on Sept. 4.
Hubbard (2) and Bert Bader (’94, 5) are believed to be the only Notre Dame goalkeepers with two or more career helpers in the program’s 40-year history.
UConn enters Tuesday’s nonconference game with Notre Dame sporting a 3-2-0 record, fresh off a 1-0 setback against Georgetown on Sept. 10. Abdou Mbacke Thiam leads the Huskies with two goals and five points in four starts, while Kwame Awuah has added a team-high three assists.
Goalkeeper Scott Levene has logged a 0.80 goals-against average in his five starts, which have included two shutouts. Levene has made 18 saves for a .818 saves percentage.
Head coach Ray Reid is 271-94-55 (.711) in his 20th season at UConn. Since 1997, Reid has led UConn to 13 combined conference titles and the 2000 national championship.
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.