Oct. 17, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 14#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2-1) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (3-9-1)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A date with regional rival Northwestern awaits the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team on Tuesday night. The Irish and Wildcats are set to clash at 8 p.m. (ET) inside Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire of the MLS, in Bridgeview, Illinois.
No. 2 Notre Dame (10-2-1) enters Tuesday’s match with a 7-0 nonconference record after blanking Michigan 2-0 on Oct. 11 in Ann Arbor. The Irish have outscored nonconference opponents by a 19-1 cumulative goal count, including 11-1 in matches against ranked foes outside of league competition this season.
Northwestern (3-9-1) has earned a result in five of its past six matches against Notre Dame, dating back to the first meeting between the teams at Toyota Park (a 1-1 draw in 2010). The sides have finished deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in four of those showdowns since 2010.
“We have a lot of alumni in Chicago for sure, and I hope they all decide to get out there and tailgate a little bit,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “Hopefully we give them something to celebrate after the game. Northwestern have had our number somehow (in recent years) and we haven’t been able to beat them, maybe this will be the year that we do that. Last year we had a lot of shots but the goalkeeping and defending were good, and they are always dangerous on the counterattack. It will be another grind of a game.”
Single game tickets for the 2016 Notre Dame men’s soccer season remain on sale. Visit und.com/BuyTickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 for more information or to purchase tickets.
Irish Drop Hard-Fought Match At UVA
A dominant second half from Notre Dame fell just shy of victory in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) action on Oct. 14. A fortuitous seventh minute goal by Virginia lifted the No. 21 Cavaliers to a 1-0 upset of the No. 1/2 Irish in front of an energized crowd inside KlÃƒÆ’Â¶ckner Stadium.
When the dust settled, Notre Dame outshot host Virginia by a 15-4 margin, including a definitive 11-3 split in the second half of play. The Cavaliers held on in part as a result of stellar play from goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, who turned aside seven shots for a well-earned clean sheet.
Bouncing Back From Close Defeats
Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss at No. 21 Virginia on Oct. 14 was only the second blemish on the Irish record through 13 matches this season. Since 2014, Notre Dame is 5-2 in the next regular season start immediately following a one-goal defeat.
Gallagher In NCAA Scoring Title Race
Following a 14-point surge (six goals, two assists) over his past six starts, Jon Gallagher has flown up the NCAA Division I scoring chart. As of Oct. 16, Gallagher was tied for fourth in the NCAA with 11 goals and tied for third with 27 total points (five assists) as part of Notre Dame’s 10-2-1 start to the 2016 season.
Gallagher, who has scored two goals in a match on three separate occasions this season (UC Irvine on Aug. 26, Pittsburgh on Sept. 30 and No. 6 Indiana on Oct. 4), remains one of the frontrunners for the ACC Offensive Player of the Year award. Entering Tuesday’s matchup against Northwestern at Toyota Park, Gallagher holds a two-goal lead and eight-point overall cushion among all ACC scorers after 13 starts this season.
Hubbard Stands Tall In The ACC
During his second full season as Notre Dame starting goalkeeper, Chris Hubbard has continued to excel for the Irish against an elite schedule. Through 13 starts in 2016, Hubbard, the ACC leader in both goals against average (0.52) and save percentage (.863), is a mere one victory away (10) and one solo shutout off (seven) of equaling career-highs that he established in 22 matches last season.
Included among Hubbard’s seven clean sheets thus far this season are a 5-0 decision against then No. 22 California (Sept. 4) and 4-0 final at home versus No. 6 Indiana (Oct. 4).
Aubrey’s Offensive Effect On ND
A career year for center back Brandon Aubrey began with a successful penalty kick to open Notre Dame’s regular season in a 4-0 win over UC Irvine on Aug. 26. A total of six goals over his first five starts sent Aubrey off and running, and the senior central defender has rarely looked back since.
Aubrey, among the top five overall scorers in the ACC in both goals (8) and points (17), has established career-highs in both statistics after 13 starts. Along with being one of the top scoring defenders in the country, Aubrey has also played a key role in seven Notre Dame shutouts, the second-most among all Division I sides.
ACC Soccer Still #1
Notre Dame was one of eight ACC teams included in last week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top 25 poll that was released on Oct. 11. The eight ACC teams included in the current NSCAA rankings lead all conferences in terms of ranked members.
The ACC is a combined 59-19-8 (.733) in nonconference play to pace Division I soccer as of Oct. 17. Notre Dame (Sept. 6 and Sept. 13) and North Carolina (Aug. 30) have previously been the top team in the NSCAA rankings during different weeks of 2016. The ACC was also rated the top conference in the NCAA weekly RPI that was released on Oct. 17.
Irish In MLS Stadiums
Tuesday’s match against Northwestern at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois will mark the eighth Notre Dame contest at an MLS venue since the 2010 season. The Irish are a combined 4-1-2 in previous stops at professional stadiums during that span.
During its two previous matches at Toyota Park against Northwestern, the Irish have battled to a pair of 1-1 ties against the Wildcats on Sept. 29, 2010 and Oct. 20, 2015.
Northwestern enters Tuesday’s match sporting a 3-9-1 record after 13 starts thus far in 2016, fresh off a 2-1 Big Ten Conference victory in overtime against Rutgers on Oct. 14. The Wildcats also defeated Michigan and NCAA scoring leader Florida Gulf Coast by identical 2-1 scores earlier this season.
Head coach Tim Lenahan is 153-117-46 (.557) in his 16th season at Northwestern, and has led the Wildcats to nine NCAA Championship berths since the 2004 campaign.
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.