Nov. 20, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Offensive Player of the Year Jon Gallagher lived up to his recently earned moniker during a competitive second round NCAA Championship match on Sunday night. Facing a game effort from visiting Loyola, Gallagher notched his 13th goal of the season (fifth game-winner) on a great feed from Mark Gormley in the 78th minute to guide the No. 13 seed University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame (12-6-2) advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 next Sunday, where it will face fourth-seeded Louisville after the Cardinals survived a 2-1 decision in overtime against UCLA in the tournament’s second round. The Irish outshot Loyola (14-4-1) 15-6 during the contest, including 8-0 in the first half. The Ramblers did not attempt their first shot in the match until the 62nd minute.
Gallagher broke through for the Notre Dame offense after the Irish had held the majority of possession in the Loyola half during the match. A feed back into the box after a tri-captain Evan Panken shot was blocked found Gormley with room at the left of the Loyola 18-yard box. Gormley sent Gallagher along with a drop pass toward the left post, where the Irish striker beat Rambler goalkeeper Andrew Chekadanov short side for his conference-high 13th goal and the 1-0 Notre Dame lead at 77:01.
Loyola put the pressure on the Notre Dame defense looking for the equalizer, managing four shots over the final 13 minutes of the contest. Irish goalkeeper Chris Hubbard made his only save of the night to thwart Elliot Collier in the 80th minute, and the Notre Dame back line blocked a pair of Loyola shots inside the final five minutes to ice the clean sheet.
Notre Dame’s rematch with Louisville sets the stage for the Irish to avenge their first defeat of the 2016 season, a 1-0 decision at Louisville on Sept. 16. The Irish maintain an 11-5-1 lead in the all-time series between the clubs.
Play of the Game
After dangerously buzzing around the Loyola goal for the majority of the contest, Jon Gallagher broke through the back line of the Ramblers for the winning goal in the 78th minute. A drop pass from fellow striker Mark Gormley sent Gallagher out of a scrum on the left of the Loyola 18-yard box, and the Notre Dame leading scorer slotted a try just inside the left post to send the Irish on to the third round of the NCAA Championship.
Despite not attempting an official shot for the first 61 plus minutes of the match, Loyola’s first try was nearly all that it needed to find the scoreboard. Brody Kraussel aggressively played a service sent in from the left wing with a one-timer on the right flank toward the far post. Notre Dame center back Brandon Aubrey stabbed the ball out of midair with a pinpoint header, clearing the danger from the Irish defensive third.
Coach Bobby Clark
On Notre Dame finally breaking through with the run of play…
“It was definitely a relief, because the longer the game went on the more excited Loyola was going to get. One opportunity could decide the game at that time, when you haven’t scored and the game is winding down. They were a dangerous team and they’re a good team, even though about four of their six shots were in the last 10 minutes. It was a happy relief and nice to see Jon getting another goal to put him up to 13 goals, that’s a great number. It was a nice assist by Mark Gormley, and it was nice that the two strikers combined to get a goal.”
What the mindset was after securing the late lead…
“We wanted to play the game in their half and we didn’t do that, and that was one of the disappointments at that time in the game. It was difficult because they just knocked the ball up there and pressured, they took chances and left themselves open at the back. We had a couple of chances to break away and ice it, and exactly the same thing happened for Loyola in the (tournament’s) first round. They were dominating their game with UIC and then they scored a goal to go one-up, and UIC pressed and pressed. UIC left themselves open in the back and that was when Loyola broke away and scored the second goal. That’s what I would have liked for us to do, if we just kept a little more composure in the last five minutes maybe we could have gotten a second goal. It’s like when you pull the goalkeeper in hockey, they pushed extra players and were knocking the ball up. They had nothing to lose at that point in the game so it made sense to get up the field. We held firm, and I think Brandon Aubrey was superb in that time. They were knocking balls in the air and Brandon’s head was clearing things.”
On rematch with Louisville in the third round after a hard-fought win…
“Louisville beat us 1-0 (in September), so it’s nice to go back and get another shot at them. We were undefeated going into that game at 9-0, so this is a chance to set the record straight. It will be a tough game because they’re a good team, and the boys are obviously very excited. The first (NCAA tournament) game is always a difficult game in the tournament, and it may have been a little easier for Loyola because they’ve already had a game. But I was very pleased with how we played. Our pressing, our passing and speed of play, the enthusiasm to take the game to them was fantastic. That followed on nicely from our last game here against Duke (ACC first round), and we played very well in that game. The last 10 minutes were quite nervous but it was still a very good performance.”
Note of the Game
Notre Dame advanced out of the second round of the NCAA Championship for the fifth consecutive season. The Irish have reached the tournament’s final 16 eight different times since 2005.
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.