Nov. 4, 2017
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 18
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTERFINAL
#21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-5-2, 3-3-2 ACC) vs. #3 North Carolina Tar Heels (14-2-1, 6-1-1 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship play rolls on Sunday for the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team. The Irish face second-seeded North Carolina at 1 p.m. (ET) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, with live coverage available on ACC Network Extra.
No. 21 Notre Dame (10-5-2), the tournament’s seventh seed, earned its quarterfinal berth by way of a 5-0 clean sheet victory against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at Alumni Stadium. The Irish are in search of its fourth semifinal appearance in the tournament in the last five years.
Irish Rout Pitt 5-0 In ACC First RD
Notre Dame was looking for that extra spark to find its mojo as the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship opened on Wednesday. A goal less than two minutes in set the Irish on a course without retreat, and standout games from a number of Notre Dame players carried the night in a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh at a rainy Alumni Stadium.
No. 21 Notre Dame, the seventh seed in the ACC tournament, scored five goals in a contest for the first time since blanking then No. 22 California by the same score line on Sept. 4, 2016, at Indiana’s adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. The Irish outshot Pitt 22-12 for the night, despite the Panthers narrowing the gap to just 10-9 in the second half. Notre Dame dominated the corner kick count 9-1, ending a solid turnaround season for Pitt that saw the Panthers claim three victories against teams in the top 25 after winning two games during the entirety of the 2016 campaign.The Irish improved to 5-1 when hosting ACC Championship games at Alumni Stadium, dating back to their debut as a conference member in 2013.
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 3-5-2 record against teams in the current top 25 of the RPI this season. The Irish defeated No. 7 Clemson 2-1 on Oct. 6, No. 12 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10 and No. 24 Pittsburgh 5-0 on Wednesday night in the first round of the ACC tournament. 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, Virginia and Pitt, the Irish have also taken on No. 1 North Carolina, No. 23 Virginia Tech, 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.
Farina Brace Anchors ND Attack
Senior forward Jeff Farina enjoyed one of the best games of his Notre Dame career on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist in the 5-0 Irish victory.
Farina notched his assist on a Blake Townes tally in the 11th minute for the second Notre Dame goal of the night, and scored himself in both the 49th and 62nd minutes. Farina has already logged a career-high eight goals and 22 points in 17 starts thus far in 2017.
Irish Roster Sees Tourney Action
Notre Dame featured a season-high 20 players seeing game action during the Wednesday ACC Championship matchup with Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium. First-time appearances on the season for the Irish included junior goalkeeper Ryan Krutz, and the first career game action for both senior midfielder Kurt Roemer and sophomore midfielder Nick Cullen.
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 North Carolina have never met before in the postseason, and will match up for just the sixth time in series history on Sunday. The Tar Heels own a slim 2-1-2 series edge over the Irish after shutting out Notre Dame 3-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park on Oct. 27 to close the ACC regular season.
Scouting North Carolina
North Carolina enters Sunday’s game with a 14-2-1 record this season, most recently blanking Notre Dame 3-0 on Oct. 27. The Tar Heels are winners of nine of their last 11 starts overall, and 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 104-24-21 (.768) in his seventh season at the helm of North Carolina, and is the active NCAA leader in winning percentage over his first 149 games coached. Somoano has guided North Carolina to six straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the 2011 national championship.