Sept. 14, 2017 by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 5
#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0-0, 1-0-0 ACC) vs. NC State Wolfpack (3-1-0, 1-0-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With both teams positioned at the top of their respective divisions in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team and NC State open the 2017 Alumni Stadium league slate on Friday night. The 7:30 p.m. (ET) match will air live on ACC Network Extra.
No. 2 Notre Dame (4-0-0, 1-0-0 ACC) returns home after a spotless road swing that included a 1-0 win at Connecticut on Sept. 2 and a 3-1 victory at Boston College on Sept. 8. NC State (3-1-0, 1-0-0 ACC) is making its first trip to Alumni Stadium in only its third meeting with Notre Dame since the Irish joined the ACC in 2013.
In the all-time series between the teams, Notre Dame and NC State are an even 1-1-1. The Irish and Wolfpack battled to a 1-1 draw during a torrential rain storm in Raleigh on Oct. 4, 2015, in the most recent meeting in the series.
“The NC State game, coming in after beating Clemson, looks after itself,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “We won’t need a lot of motivation. We know the last time we played down there we tied, and Chris Hubbard stood on his head. They’re a good team and they’ve got a lot of really good players, it’ll be a very challenging game. All ACC games, there’s not an easy ACC game.”
Irish Blitz BC To Open ACC Play
Stifling defense for Notre Dame kept Boston College in check for much of the opening Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) game of the 2017 season on Sept. 8.
Feeding off the defensive intensity, Irish tri-captain Jon Gallagher caught fire on the offensive end. The senior striker tallied his first career collegiate hat trick, including two scores on free kicks, over the final 40 minutes to help lift No. 6 Notre Dame to a 3-1 victory over Boston College at the Newton Soccer Field.
Gallagher Named ACC OPOTW
Fresh off his first career hat trick on Sept. 8 at Boston College, senior forward Jon Gallagher was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11. Gallagher became the first Irish player to claim a weekly award from the conference office thus far in 2017, and was also included on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week in recognition of his performance.
Gallagher was the most outstanding player on the field in the opening ACC game of 2017 for both Notre Dame and Boston College, scoring three goals in just over 30 minutes of game action in a 3-1 victory for the #6 Irish in Newton, Massachusetts. Gallagher’s hat trick was just the second by a Notre Dame player in ACC play (Brandon Aubrey against Virginia Tech on Sept. 9, 2016), and only the third overall by an Irish player since the 2012 season.
After four starts in 2017, Gallagher paces the ACC with 23 total shot attempts and 5.75 shots per game. The 2016 ACC Offensive Player of the Year also ranks among the top 10 goal scorers in the ACC following his hat trick, and moved into the top 20 on the all-time Notre Dame goals (29, tied for 12th) and points (71, tied for 16th) lists.
ND Back Line Stifling Opponents
Four games into the 2017 season, the Notre Dame defense has been the toast of the ACC. The Irish have yielded a conference-best 0.49 goals-against average, but that number only tells half the story.
As of Friday’s game against NC State, Notre Dame has allowed the fewest shots on goal among any team in the ACC (11). The two goals surrendered by the Irish back line are not only the least in the conference, but rank 16th in NCAA Division I men’s soccer.
The stellar Notre Dame defense is made more impressive in that the Irish have committed only 36 fouls and received two yellow cards, both the fewest in the ACC (yellow total second-fewest in the NCAA).
Quality Of ND Chances Abundant
Despite virtually all teams having at least one game, and some as many as two games in-hand as of Sept. 13, Notre Dame has continued to build toward the top of the ACC standings with 2.00 goals scored per game. The Irish success in only four games has been helped along by the quality of scoring chances the team has created this season.
Notre Dame ranks among the top 20 in the NCAA in total shot attempts per game (15.50), but it’s the number of chances on goal that have been key. The Irish rank fifth in NCAA Division I soccer with 8.25 shots on goal per game, with only Duke (9.00) outpacing Notre Dame in the ACC.
Irish In Home Conference Openers
Dating back to the 1988 season, when Notre Dame joined the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) after 11 campaigns as an independent, the Irish are 18-6-4 (.714) all-time in conference home openers.
Notre Dame has earned a result in a league lid-lifter at home in every season dating back to 2007, including a 7-0-1 (.938) mark inside Alumni Stadium.
Irish In The ACC
In its fifth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 21-7-8 (.694) 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.
Notre Dame has logged an 11-2-4 (.765) record in home matches during the ACC regular season over the past four years, and has not lost a conference home match since Oct. 3, 2014 (1-0 to Boston College).
Scouting NC State
NC State enters Friday’s game with a 3-1-0 record and is riding a two-game winning streak after downing No. 3 Clemson 1-0 on Sept. 8 and Longwood 2-1 on Sept. 10 in Raleigh. The Wolfpack decision against Clemson was NC State’s first win over the Tigers since 2008, and its first win over a national top-five opponent since 2014.
Head coach George Kiefer is in his first season at the helm of NC State after spending the past 15 seasons at South Florida. Kiefer guided USF to 10 NCAA tournament berths during his tenure in Tampa, along with five conference titles.
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.