Oct. 31, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 17
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST ROUND
#16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-5-2, 3-3-2 ACC) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (8-9-0, 2-6-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the fifth straight season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team is set to host early-round action in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship. The Irish and Pittsburgh are set to square off on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) inside Alumni Stadium, with coverage available on ACC Network Extra.
No. 7 seed Notre Dame (9-5-2) has won its four previous ACC First Round and Quarterfinal games at Alumni Stadium dating back to the 2013 season. The Irish most recently downed Duke by a 3-2 score in overtime on Nov. 3, 2016.
No. 10 seed Pittsburgh (8-9-0) is in search of its first ACC tournament win after reaching the competition for the second straight season. The Panthers earned a 1-0 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 13 at Alumni Stadium for their first victory against the Irish since 2003.
#3 UNC Downs The Irish in Cary
In its home away from home in the 2017 season due to construction at its own ground, North Carolina looked extremely settled at the WakeMed Soccer Park on Friday. A pair of goals in the second half opened up what had been a tightly-contested game in a 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory over Notre Dame.
Irish In The RPI
In the fifth release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame remained in the national top 10, slotted 10th in the week five rankings. The Irish have faced the hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 30, with their opponent’s strength of schedule also rated first among all teams across the country who compete in Division I men’s soccer.
Notre Dame has compiled a 2-5-2 record against teams in the current top 25 of the RPI this season. The Irish defeated No. 7 Clemson 2-1 on Oct. 6 and No. 12 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10. Notre Dame has added draws with No. 3 Duke (0-0) on Oct. 20 and No. 11 Virginia (1-1) on Sept. 29. In fact, all eight ACC opponents that Notre Dame 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. 1 North Carolina, No. 23 Virginia Tech, No. 24 Pittsburgh, No. 36 NC State and No. 46 Boston College.
The ACC remains the far and away top-ranked conference in the league RPI standings this season, with six members rated among the top 10 in the country as of Oct. 30.
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 Irish officially open the 2017 ACC Championship as the home team and seventh seed against the 10th seed Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
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. Pittsburgh became the first ACC opponent to win in the regular season at Notre Dame since the 2014 season with a 1-0 victory on Oct. 13.
Irish Hosting The ACC First Round
Notre Dame will host an early round ACC Championship match for the fifth straight season when it welcomes Pittsburgh to Alumni Stadium on Wednesday. The Irish are 4-1 in ACC tournament home matchups since joining the conference in 2013, outscoring opponents by an aggregate 8-3 goal count.
In fact, Notre Dame has hosted at least one home conference tournament match in 16 of the past 17 seasons. The Irish have notched a 10-3-3 (.719) record in prior home conference tournament matches, outscoring opponents a combined 20-9 in those contests.
Prior ND ACC Tourney Runs
Notre Dame is attempting to reach the semifinal round or beyond in the ACC Championship for the fourth time in five seasons as a conference member in 2017. The Irish made a pair of ACC tournament semifinal appearances in both 2013 and 2014 before hosting the championship final in 2015 at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have never before met in the postseason, despite facing one another 22 prior times in series history. The Irish own a 15-4-3 (.750) all-time record against Pitt, including an 8-3-1 mark in games played on the Notre Dame campus. The Panthers broke a 15-game losing streak against Notre Dame that stretched back to 2003 on Oct. 13, downing the Irish 1-0 at Alumni Stadium.
Pittsburgh enters Wednesday’s game with an 8-9-0 record at the end of the regular season, most recently dropping a 3-0 decision to Virginia Tech on Oct. 27. The Panthers have fallen in three straight games, all against ranked opposition, since earning a 1-0 upset win over Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium on Oct. 13. Pitt was outshot 17-9 on the night by the Irish, but was able to claim its first victory on the Notre Dame campus since the 2002 season.
Pitt is in search of its first win in the ACC Championship since joining the conference in 2013. The Panthers fell in their only previous ACC tournament appearance, dropping a 4-0 result at Syracuse on Nov. 2, 2016.
Head coach Jay Vidovich is 11-22-3 (.347) in his second season at Pitt, and is in the midst of rebuilding the Panthers program after a 21-year tenure at Wake Forest. Vidovich won over 270 games and was a five-time ACC Coach of the Year with the Demon Deacons. Vidovich guided Wake Forest to 12 different ACC tournament semifinal appearances.
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.