Nov. 13, 2014
#2 NOTRE DAME
ACC Championship Semifinal
Friday, Nov. 14 – 5:30 p.m. (ET)
WakeMed Soccer Park – Cary, N.C.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The temperature outside may be dropping, but the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team is just getting heated up and the second-ranked Fighting Irish will look to keep the momentum going Friday when they face No. 14 Clemson in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.
The top-seeded Fighting Irish and the fourth-seeded Tigers will square off at 5:30 p.m. (ET) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Syracuse and Louisville will meet in the second semifinal (8 p.m.). The title game is slated for 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Notre Dame (11-4-3) has a four-game unbeaten streak, which matches a season-best mark, and the Irish have outscored their opponents 11-3 en route to a 3-0-1 mark in those four matches. The hot stretch goes back even further as the Irish are 6-1-1 with a 19-7 scoring advantage in their last eight contests.
Clemson (10-6-2) is carrying a good amount of momentum as well. The Tigers are unbeaten in their last seven games (5-0-2) and they have scored 12 times, while only allowing three goals, in that span.
Friday will be the first meeting this season between Notre Dame and Clemson. The Tigers tied Syracuse for the ACC Atlantic Division crown.
“Our guys realize this is going to be a very competitive game,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “Clemson is a very good team. I have a lot of respect for (head coach) Mike Noonan. He’s a terrific coach. I go back with Mike to when he was an assistant coach at Vermont when they were a very good team. He then became the head coach at New Hampshire and did a fantastic job there before going to Brown. He did a great job at Brown and now he’s doing the same at Clemson. He’ll have his team ready. This will be a team that will test us. They’re a physical team and they’re a technical team. It’ll be another great test for us.”
Notre Dame has passed most of its tests against ACC competition this season. The Irish are 7-1-1 when facing their league counterparts and they have deposited 17 goals in the last five showdowns with an ACC foe.
Junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, the 2014 ACC Offensive Player of the Year, has been leading the Irish attack. Seven of his team-best nine goals have come against an ACC rival. He also has a knack for scoring in the postseason. Hodan has tallied 10 goals and three assists in 13 career playoff games (conference & NCAA tournaments). He notched a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Virginia in the quarterfinal round of the ACC tournament.
“Patrick is a goal scorer,” Clark states. “Even early in the season he was just on the verge a couple of times. There were a couple he could have put away that just slipped past. Like all goal scorers you go through hot spells. I thought early in the season he got himself in good position and now he’s back on scoring form.
“The nice thing about this team is that a lot of people can score. I really feel we have a lot of people who are capable of getting goals and that’s one of the things that helps someone who is a goal scorer because he can either go himself or feed somebody. We have four forwards who can all score, which is terrific. Obviously both our wide midfield players can score and I feel we are going to get goals out of both of our central midfielders as the postseason wears on. And our fullbacks are good at attacking and (central defender) Brandon Aubrey has two goals and he was our backup forward last year. He certainly isn’t someone who is shy around the goal.”
TAKING ON THE TIGERS
– Notre Dame and Clemson have split the four all-time meetings between the two schools. The Fighting Irish have won the last two showdowns, including a 2-1 overtime victory last season at Clemson.
– This will mark the third straight season the Irish and Tigers have met. Notre Dame topped Clemson, 2-1, at the 2012 IU Classic.
– The Irish fell at Clemson, 1-0, in the Round of 16 of the 2005 NCAA Championship.
– The first meeting between the two programs was a 4-0 Clemson win in 2001 in Greenville, S.C.
THE LAST TIME
– A two-goal effort from Harrison Shipp propelled Notre Dame to a 2-1 overtime victory last season at Clemson. Shipp opened the scoring in the 21st minute, yet Clemson’s Ara Amirkhanian equalized in the 88th minute. Shipp deposited the golden goal less than two minutes into overtime.
– Irish goalkeeper Patrick Wall made two saves and Andrew Tarbell had one save for the Tigers.
IRISH IN THE RPI
– Notre Dame is fourth in the latest RPI, while Clemson appears at No. 15. The Fighting Irish have faced 10 teams (Virginia twice) that appear in the top 30 of the RPI. Notre Dame is 6-2-3 in those contests.
LEAGUE TOURNAMENT TITLES
– Notre Dame is in pursuit of its seventh conference tournament title. The Fighting Irish captured three Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championships (1988, 1993, 1994) and Notre Dame also won the BIG EAST Championship three times (1996, 2003, 2012).
IRISH GETTING OFFENSIVE IN ACC PLAY
– Notre Dame has scored 17 goals in its last five games versus ACC foes, including Sunday’s three-goal output against Virginia.
– The Fighting Irish netted four goals in 4-1 wins over Duke (Oct. 17) and Pittsburgh (Nov. 1). The four goals were the most-ever for the Irish in an ACC contest and they matched a season-high goal total.
– Junior midfielder Patrick Hodan has tallied 10 goals and three assists in 13 career postseason games (conference & NCAA tournaments). He notched a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Virginia.
HODAN ON A HOT STREAK
– Patrick Hodan tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Virginia. The junior midfielder has scored at least one goal in seven of the last nine matches and he has totaled eight goals in those nine contests.
– Hodan’s five game-winning goals this season rank 11th nationally and they are the third-most in the ACC. He has 10 game-winning goals during his career.
– Hodan leads the Fighting Irish in goals (9) and points (21) this season. He has the most career goals (26) and assists (13) of any current Notre Dame player. The goal total is tied for 15th nationally among active Division I players.
– Hodan’s nine goals this season rank second in the ACC.
PANKEN PLAYING WELL
– Junior midfielder Evan Panken has three goals and four assists in the last five matches.
– He notched a career-high four points on one goal and two assists in the 4-1 win at Pitt on Nov. 1.
– Panken, a starter in every match over the last two seasons, has a career-high 13 points this year on four goals and a career-best five assists.
BROWN HAVING A BANNER SEASON
– Forward Leon Brown has scored three goals in the last two games. He put the Irish on the board in the 28th minute of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Virginia.
– Brown, a fifth-year senior, matched a career-high total with two goals at Pitt in the regular-season finale.
– Brown has 13 points this season on a career-high six goals and one assist. The goal total ranks second among all Irish players this season.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director