Oct. 26, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 16
#16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4-2, 3-2-2 ACC) vs. #3 North Carolina Tar Heels (13-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team puts a bow on the 2017 regular season on Friday, traveling to Cary, North Carolina, for an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division showdown with North Carolina. The 7 p.m. (ET) contest will take place at the WakeMed Soccer Park complex in Cary because North Carolina’s home stadium in Chapel Hill, Fetzer Field, is currently undergoing renovations.
No. 16 Notre Dame (9-4-2, 3-2-2 ACC) has officially been idle for a week after a planned nonconference game at Michigan State was canceled due to inclement weather. The Irish and Spartans were unable to find a break in severe rains in East Lansing to meet in a highly-touted nonconference matchup. The seven-day gap between games is the first on the schedule for Notre Dame since early September.
No. 3 North Carolina (13-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC) has sewn up the ACC Coastal Division title and the second seed in the upcoming ACC tournament, and has earned results in nine of its last 10 games. Friday’s game will be the first time that the Tar Heels and Notre Dame have met anywhere other than Alumni Stadium or Fetzer Field.
Irish And Duke Battle To 0-0 Draw
After dominating the final 65 minutes of play at nearly every end of the field, Notre Dame was left looking for a game-winning goal. A furious Irish onslaught in the second half was countered by equally brilliant Duke defense and goalkeeping, and the teams finished a hard-fought scoreless draw Oct. 20 at Alumni Stadium.
No. 12 Notre Dame bounced back from an early 3-1 deficit in shots to No. 15 Duke to control the game the rest of the night, outshooting the Blue Devils by an impressive 16-4 margin for the remainder of the game. The Irish also dominated in corner kicks 13-4, and limited Duke to a lone shot on goal after halftime.
The last four meetings between Notre Dame and Duke, dating back to 2015, have been settled in overtime. The Irish had won two of the last three in bonus soccer against the Blue Devils, with Friday’s result marking the first tie game in series history.
Irish Stellar At Home In 2017
Notre Dame’s 0-0 draw with No. 15 Duke on Oct. 20 officially capped a 6-1-2 campaign for the Irish in the 2017 regular season at Alumni Stadium. The final Notre Dame game of the 2017 season is at No. 3 North Carolina.
Notre Dame outscored opponents by a 15-6 aggregate goal count in its nine starts at home this season, outshooting the opposition 153-74 (57-25 in shots on goal). Key home results along with the scoreless tie with Duke included a 3-0 ACC win over NC State on Sept. 15, a 1-1 draw with No. 10 Virginia on Sept. 29, and a 3-1 victory against No. 24 Michigan on Oct. 10.
Notre Dame Debuts In 2017
A total of three players have made their first career appearances for Notre Dame during the 2017 season, joining the roster of official all-time competitors in the process. Defenders Spencer Farina and Senan Farrelly and forward John Rea have each made their Irish debuts during the regular season.
Farina has seen action in the past two games against Akron and Duke for Notre Dame as a substitute at right back. Farina and older brother, Jeff, joined Sean and Kyle Dedrick as active siblings with career games played on the Irish roster. Farrelly has played in seven games with four starts, three at center back and one at right back. Rea put in a pair of brief but impactful shifts on the Notre Dame front line after a standout preseason for the Irish attack.
Irish In The RPI
In the fourth release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame was slotted seventh in the week four rankings. The Irish have faced the second-hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 23, leading into Friday’s game at No. 1 North Carolina.
Notre Dame has compiled a 3-3-2 record against teams in the current top 25 of the RPI this season. The Irish defeated No. 4 Clemson 2-1 on Oct. 6, No. 17 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10, and No. 24 San Diego 2-0 on Aug. 25. Notre Dame has added draws with No. 3 Duke (0-0) last Friday and No. 9 Virginia (1-1) on Sept. 29. In fact, all eight ACC opponents that Notre Dame has faced in the regular season are in the current RPI top 50. Along with Duke, Clemson and Virginia, the Irish have also taken on No. 21 Pittsburgh, No. 28 Virginia Tech, No. 34 NC State and No. 48 Boston College leading into Friday at No. 1 UNC.
Through 15 games, Notre Dame ranks second in the NCAA in terms of the quality of its wins. The nine Irish wins in 2017 have occurred against an average opponent’s RPI of 59, second only in Division I men’s soccer to fellow ACC member Duke (55). The ACC remains the far and away top-ranked conference in the league RPI standings this season, with seven members rated among the top 10 in the country as of Oct. 23.
Irish In The ACC
In its fifth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 23-9-10 (.667) conference mark in the regular season since 2013. The Irish shared the ACC regular-season championship (7-1-3) in 2013 before claiming the top position in the ACC Coastal Division (6-1-1) in 2014.
Scouting North Carolina
North Carolina enters Friday’s game with a 13-2-1 record this season, most recently blanking Virginia Tech 4-0 on Oct. 22 in Blacksburg. The Tar Heels are winners of eight of their last 10 starts overall, and have only dropped one ACC decision (2-1 to Wake Forest on Oct. 6) in 2017. North Carolina and Louisville also battled to a scoreless draw on Oct. 13 at Lynn Stadium in Louisville.
Head coach Carlos Somoano is 103-24-21 (.767) in his seventh season at the helm of North Carolina, and is the active NCAA leader in winning percentage over his first 148 games coached. Somoano has guided North Carolina to six straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the 2011 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.