Sept. 25, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A spirited offensive performance that featured goals from Mark Gormley, Evan Panken and Connor Klekota lifted the No. 14 University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team to a crucial 3-1 victory over No. 4 Virginia on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win for the Irish (6-2-1, 2-1-0 ACC) was the first loss of the year for the defending NCAA champion Cavaliers (5-1-2, 1-1-1 ACC). Notre Dame outshot Virginia 13-5, including a lopsided 8-3 margin in the second half, and logged a 6-2 edge in corner kicks.
“I was pleased with the way we played,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark, who earned the conference victory the night before celebrating his 70th birthday, said. “The first half was tight, and the first goal was a terrific goal. I thought when we got the second goal the game was put to bed, it was a lovely goal by Evan, and we just opened the door again for them. I was disappointed losing that goal at that time.
“Fortunately we came up and got the third goal, and that pretty much iced the game for us,” Clark added. “We were lucky in some ways, with them down to 10 men, but full marks to Virginia. They kept fighting away.”
Jon Gallagher looked to keep the recent trend of fast Notre Dame starts rolling in the first minute. Classmate Jeffrey Farina threaded a great through ball to a charging Gallagher down the left flank, but his 20-yard shot traveled wide of the left post.
A Virginia hand ball just outside the 18-yard box on a tri-captain Max Lachowecki run in the 18th minute gave the Irish a great look at a free kick. Brandon Aubrey blasted right-footed try that was punched over the crossbar by Cavalier goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell for a tremendous save.
“It was a great win, especially against one of the best teams in the ACC,” Lachowecki said following Friday’s game. “I think everyone remembers our result against them in the NCAA tournament last year, so it’s good to beat them. After losing two in a row last week it was great to get back on track, especially in the ACC. One of our biggest goals is to win the conference regular season and the tournament, so this was a great team performance. Everyone came out and contributed, guys off the bench and even guys who hadn’t scored yet this season, it was good overall.”
Aubrey artfully flicked a corner kick by Panken toward the center of the box in the 19th minute. Tri-captain Klekota nearly buried the feed, but his header sailed just wide of the near post.
Panken lobbed a deep free kick from 30 yards far left toward the outside post in the 34th minute. Aubrey made a great run to the spot to get a head on the service, but his try traveled out of bounds and into the side of the netting.
Notre Dame made the most of its offensive pressure in the 36th minute. Oliver Harris shielded off the defense on a pass from Panken, and sent a well-timed through ball ahead to tri-captain Patrick Hodan. Hodan wheeled around and found Gormley cutting toward the frame, and the junior forward finished his second goal of the year with a right-footed shot into the left side of the net at 35:16 for the 1-0 Irish lead.
“All four forwards were tremendous,” Clark said. “Jeffrey Farina was fantastic when he came back on. Jon’s running, and of course Mark Gormley and Thomas Ueland, all four of them are really giving us quality minutes. When you’re playing four games a week it’s great to have four forwards because forwards are the guys you need to have the speed. It’s hard for them to play 90 minutes, but the younger guys are playing roughly 30 minutes and Jon and Jeffrey 60 minutes. It’s working pretty well.”
Panken managed the first Notre Dame shot of the second half in the 58th minute, dribbling into the Virginia third before uncorking a 25-yard right-footed blast that carried wide of the right post and out of play.
Gallagher appeared to be fouled inside the box during an aggressive Irish run in the 67th minute, but no penalty call was awarded. A shot attempt following the play by Farina was blocked away by the Virginia defense.
A hard foul by Riggs Lennon, who had re-entered less than two minutes earlier, in the 71st minute led to a red card being issued against the Virginia forward. Lennon had previously left the game due to injury with one yellow card accrued. As a result, the Cavaliers were forced to play the reminder of the match with only 10 men.
“The man down definitely changed the game in our favor,” Clark said. “It was a tight game, and they’re a good team. There is no question about that, they’re one of the best teams we will play this year.”
Panken gave the Irish a two-goal advantage in the 78th minute. An overhead volley from Farina off a throw-in from Lachowecki found the senior midfielder streaking into the Virginia third, where he ripped his first goal of the year into the right corner to up the Notre Dame lead to 2-0 at 77:52.
Virginia clawed back into the contest with a successful penalty kick after drawing a Notre Dame foul in the 18-yard box in the 79th minute. Todd Wharton converted from the spot at 78:32 to bring the Cavaliers within one at 2-1.
“I think one of the things we learned from the game was to keep our composure,” Lachowecki said. “We’re up 2-0 and you give up a goal there, not to panic. Those are lessons you can take down the road. You’ll give up goals and penalties like that, and whether you agree or not you have to keep playing and can’t panic. Stay the road and keep working.”
Klekota quickly made it a 3-1 contest just over two minutes later. Blake Townes forced a Virginia turnover in the right corner, which was gathered by Farina. A laser centering pass found its way to a waiting Klekota at the far post, and he buried his second tally of 2015 with his right foot to seal the game at 80:43.
“We’ve won two conference home games, and obviously we would have liked to have gotten more out of the game at North Carolina (last Friday),” Clark said. “That wasn’t our day, but every conference game is a huge game for us. They are all such good teams and they are all well coached, so it’s a challenge.
“We have another midweek (Marquette on Tuesday) before and then it’s NC State next Sunday,” Clark added. “That’s a tough place to go as well, but they are great games. The boys love playing in them, they’re a great challenge.”
Sept. 25, 2015
No. 14/12 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Virginia 1
Alumni Stadium (Notre Dame, Ind.)
No. 4 Virginia 0 1 — 1
No. 14/12 Notre Dame 1 2 — 3
Shots: ND 13 (5-8), UVA 5 (2-3)
Shots on goal: ND 7 (2-5), UVA 3 (1-2)
Saves: ND 2 (Chris Hubbard 2 in 90:00), UVA 4 (Jeff Caldwell 4 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 6 (3-3), UVA 2 (1-1)
Fouls: ND 15, UVA 9
Offsides: ND 1, UVA 2
Yellow Cards: Connor Klekota (ND) 47:13; Riggs Lennon (UVA) 60:23; Max Lachowecki (ND) 63:42; Evan Panken (ND) 76:44
Red Card: Riggs Lennon (UVA) 70:04 (UVA played final 19:56 with 10 men)
— Tony Jones, Athletics Communications Assistant