Oct. 17, 2017
AKRON, Ohio – A pair of hard-luck, if not questionable, penalty kick rulings were the only tallies on the scoreboard between the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team and Akron on Tuesday night. The host Zips scored in the 35th and 88th minutes off sequences from the spot to blank the Irish 2-0 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
No. 19 Akron (9-3-1) finished the game with a 13-6 edge in shots, including 6-4 in shots on goal, despite three of the six shots on frame coming either directly or indirectly from 50/50 penalty ruling against No. 12 Notre Dame (9-4-1). Corner kicks narrowly went the way of the Zips 4-3.
The Irish flew out of the gate in the first minute, and nearly jumped on the scoreboard. Thomas Ueland flew down the right wing and rocketed a shot in at Akron goalkeeper Tor Saunders that was skillfully punched away.
A through ball across the pitch to Sean Dedrick up the right wing in the 18th minute put the Notre Dame offense in business once more. A Dedrick cross to the far post found Jon Gallagher, but his left-footed, one-time try was stopped by Saunders.
An evenly played game was undone by a seemingly inexplicable penalty call in the Notre Dame 18-yard box in the 35th minute. Patrick Berneski made a challenge on the ball in traffic, but the Akron attacker fell to the ground to earn a try from the spot. Sam Gainford notched his fifth goal of the year on the penalty for the 1-0 Akron lead at 34:59.
Jeff Farina met a looping corner kick from Jack Casey with a shot in the 47th minute that was hauled in by Saunders, quelling the hot Notre Dame start once more. A pair of Ueland tries went just wide of the right post in the 52nd and 55th minutes, and a Blake Townes blast from straight away was corralled to stall the Irish surge.
Akron looked to take advantage of Notre Dame pressing up the field and was able to dump the ball in over the top to space late. Two crucial saves for Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Hubbard in the 84th and later the 85th minute kept the score line put at 1-0.
On a lob over the top late in the game Berneski was called for a second penalty, this time despite the foul appearing to clearly occur outside the box, to gift wrap another scoring chance for Akron in the 88th minute. Hubbard saved Gainford’s initial penalty try, but Nick Hinds shoveled in the rebound for his third goal of the year at 87:42 (2-0).
Notre Dame returns to Alumni Stadium for the final home game of the 2017 regular season on Friday at 7 p.m. (ET) against No. 15 Duke. The Irish will recognize their eight-member senior class prior to the start of the contest, which will air on ACC Network Extra.