Nov. 25, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 21NCAA Championship – Third Round
#15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-6-2, #13 Seed) vs. #7 Louisville Cardinals (13-5-2, #4 Seed)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Third round play in the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship gets underway this weekend, and for the fifth straight year the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team finds itself among the final 16 squads remaining in the tournament. The No. 13 seed Irish travel to No. 4 seed Louisville for a 5 p.m. (ET) match on Sunday at Lynn Stadium, with coverage available live on ACC Network Extra.
Notre Dame (12-6-2) looks to avenge a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Louisville (13-5-2) on Sept. 16, which at the time was the first Irish setback of the 2016 season. Sunday’s match will be the first time that the programs will meet during the NCAA Championship, as both teams split a 1-1-1 mark in BIG EAST Conference tournament play in previous postseason encounters.
The winner of Sunday’s match will advance to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championship to face the winner of No. 5 Stanford and No. 12 Virginia on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3, with a berth to the 2016 NCAA College Cup on the line. Notre Dame previously downed Stanford 2-1 in double overtime on Sept. 2 before falling 1-0 at Virginia on Oct. 14, despite outshooting the host Cavaliers 15-4 in that contest.
Irish Advance After 1-0 Loyola Shutout
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 Nov. 20. 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 No. 13 seed Notre Dame to a 1-0 win at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish outshot Loyola 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.
Irish All-Time As A National Seed
In its 19th all-time appearance in the NCAA Championship during the 2016 edition of the national tournament, Notre Dame is enjoying its 11th berth as one of the event’s 16 national seeds. The Irish improved to 13-8-2 (.609) as a seeded team with the 1-0 second round win over Loyola.
All 11 national seeds in the NCAA Championship for Notre Dame have been achieved under head coach Bobby Clark. The Irish have been seeded (with a first-round bye) in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
New Millennium NCAA Success
Notre Dame had claimed one win in its history during NCAA Championship play over its first four trips to the national tournament, punctuated by a 1-0 shutout of No. 2 UNC Greensboro on Nov. 24, 1996.
Since entering the new millennium the Irish have cemented themselves as mainstays in the NCAA Championship. Dating back to 2001, Notre Dame has won 17 games in 15 trips to the national tournament, notching two wins in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and a program record five wins during its national championship season in 2013.
Notre Dame was among the final eight teams remaining in the field in both 2006 and 2007 before reaching the NCAA College Cup for the first time during its stellar 2013 championship run.
Returning To The Road For NCAAs
Sunday’s match at No. 4 seed Louisville will be the first true road contest for Notre Dame in NCAA Championship play since Nov. 22, 2009, a 3-1 second round defeat at No. 9 Northwestern. The Irish are a combined 6-10 all-time in NCAA tournament matches contested away from home, with all six wins against top 10 national seeds.
Gallagher Named ACC OPOY
Junior forward Jon Gallagher was officially recognized as the 2016 ACC Offensive Player of the Year as part of the conference awards announcement on Nov 8.
Gallagher was the third Notre Dame player in the program’s four seasons of conference membership to be honored as the top ACC offensive performer, joining past MAC Hermann Trophy candidates Harrison Shipp (2013) and Patrick Hodan (2014).
Gallagher led four overall Notre Dame honorees included in the 2016 ACC season awards cycle, joining senior center back Brandon Aubrey on the all-ACC first team. Fifth-year senior midfielder/tri-captain Evan Panken was tabbed to the all-ACC third team, while midfielder Tommy McCabe earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team.
Notre Dame Duo, Hermann Hopefuls
Gallagher, who leads the ACC in both goals (13) and points (33), is among the top 10 players in scoring in Division I soccer. Aubrey, who has chipped in nine goals and 19 points from his central defense post, has remained among the top offensive defenders in the nation throughout his senior campaign. Aubrey has also been a key component in nine Notre Dame team shutouts this season.
No. 4 seed Louisville enters Sunday’s match with a 13-5-2 record, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Championship with a golden goal in the 94th minute to eliminate UCLA 2-1 on Nov. 20.
Notre Dame owns an 11-5-1 (.676) series edge against Louisville all-time, with Sunday being the first time the teams have met in NCAA Championship play.
Mohamed Thiaw ranks second in the ACC in scoring (behind Notre Dame’s Jon Gallagher) with 11 goals and 23 points over his first 20 starts. Tim Kubel leads all ACC attackers with 10 assists in his 20 match appearances.
Head coach Ken Lolla has led Louisville to a 130-69-31 (.632) record in 11 seasons with the Cardinals. Lolla has guided Louisville to nine NCAA tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish at the 2010 College Cup.
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.