Nov. 7, 2014
#4 NOTRE DAME
Sunday, Nov. 9 – 1 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – There aren’t many things the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer program has not accomplished, yet the Fighting Irish can achieve a first on Sunday when they play host to Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.
The Fighting Irish have faced 42 teams at least six times in program history and Virginia is the only one among that group that Notre Dame has not defeated. The Irish are 0-4-2 all-time against the Cavaliers.
Sunday will be the second meeting this season and the fourth in the past two years between the two schools. Notre Dame and Virginia played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 21 in Charlottesville, Va. Last season, the Cavaliers handed the Irish their only loss of the season, a 2-0 decision at Alumni Stadium, and they met again in the ACC semifinals and Virginia advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a 3-3 tie.
“We know each other pretty well over the last year and the one thing I’d say is that both our staff and players have terrific respect for (head coach) George Gelnovatch and his UVA team,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark says. “They’re a good team. They’re athletic, they have very good technical players and they’re very well coached.”
Notre Dame (10-4-3) is ranked fourth nationally and the Irish are the tournament’s top seed after winning the ACC Coastal Division and finishing with a league-best 19 points. No. 15 Virginia (10-5-2) concluded ACC play in fourth place in the Coastal Division and the Cavaliers are seeded eighth. Virginia topped Virginia Tech, 1-0, on Wednesday in the first round of the conference tournament.
“It’s crazy to think that Virginia is the No. 8 seed,” Clark states. “Nearly all of the eight teams that are left (in the ACC tournament) could possibly win the national championship and Virginia is one of those teams. Last year Virginia was the No. 6 seed going into the ACC tournament and they ended up in the final four (of the NCAA tournament). It’s a similar scenario this season. If we’re fortunate to win on Sunday, win the semifinal and go to the ACC final, I think the three games we would have played will have been as hard as any games we could possibly get in the NCAAs. It’s great preparation and it’s a terrific game from that point of view.”
Notre Dame is 6-1-1 against ACC competition this season. The only ACC foe to defeat the Irish (Boston College) is not among the final eight of the league tournament and the only other non-win came against Virginia. The Fighting Irish held a lead in each of the last two showdowns with the Cavaliers and they will look to close them out this time and advance to the conference semifinals next weekend in Cary, N.C.
“It’ll be a tough game,” Clark says. “The nice thing is that it’s a good gauge of where we are. The result is very important, especially in knockout play, but more than the result it’ll be very interesting to see where we are because this will be the fourth time we’ve played Virginia in the last two seasons. I thought they were the one team that came up here last year and handled us quite well. We never found our rhythm and they controlled the game. You try to take something from every game and you try to get a little bit better and this will be a good test to see if we can do that.”
IRISH CLAIM ANOTHER ACC CROWN
– The Fighting Irish won the ACC Coastal Division and finished the regular season with a league-best 19 points. It marked the second straight ACC regular-season title for the Irish, who tied Maryland last season, and the team’s third conference crown in the last three years. Notre Dame won the 2012 BIG EAST Championship in its final campaign in the league.
– The Coastal Division championship is Notre Dame’s seventh regular-season conference title. The Irish claimed two Midwestern Collegiate Conference titles (1989, 1993) and three regular-season BIG EAST crowns (2004, 2007, 2008).
THE VIRGINIA SERIES
– Sunday will be the seventh meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Virginia. The Cavaliers lead the series 4-0-2.
– Notre Dame and Virginia played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 21 in Charlottesville, Va.
– The two programs met twice last season. Virginia won at Notre Dame, 2-0, during the regular season. That was Notre Dame’s only loss during the 2013 campaign. The Irish and Cavaliers squared off in the semifinals of the ACC Championship and following a 3-3 draw, Virginia advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3.
– Last year’s meeting at Alumni Stadium was Virginia’s first-ever visit to Notre Dame.
– Head coach Bobby Clark is 0-2-2 versus Virginia during his Notre Dame tenure and he is 1-3-2 all-time against the Cavaliers.
THE LAST TIME
– Notre Dame tied Virginia, 1-1, on Sept. 21 in Charlottesville, Va. Patrick Hodan put the Irish up in the 65th minute on a penalty kick after Virginia’s Wesley Suggs was issued a red card. Eric Bird netted the equalizer in the 68th minute.
– Notre Dame held a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. Patrick Wall made two saves for the Irish, while Calle Brown had four saves for the Cavaliers.
CONFERENCE 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).
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS UNDER CLARK
– Notre Dame is 13-8-6 (.593) in 13 conference tournament appearances under head coach Bobby Clark.
– The Fighting Irish went 1-0-1 in their inaugural ACC Championship. Notre Dame topped Duke, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and tied Virginia, 3-3, in the semifinals. The Cavaliers advanced by winning the penalty-kick shootout (4-3).
– The Irish went 12-8-5 in the BIG EAST Championship under Clark, including titles in 2003 and 2012.
IRISH GETTING OFFENSIVE IN ACC PLAY
– Notre Dame scored 14 goals in its final four ACC regular-season games.
– The Fighting Irish netted four goals in 4-1 wins at Duke and Pittsburgh. The four goals were the most-ever for the Irish in an ACC contest and they matched a season-high goal total. Notre Dame also scored four times in the 4-1 win over Dartmouth on Sept. 5.
Tickets for Sunday’s match are $8 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 21 and younger)/senior (ages 55 and older) and free for kids three years of age and younger. To purchase tickets call 574-631-7356, stop by the Notre Dame ticket office or visit UND.com/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased Sunday at Alumni Stadium.
All Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross students will get into the game free of charge with a valid student ID. Also, any Notre Dame faculty/staff member and their families will be admitted free of charge with a valid University ID.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director