Aug. 16, 2015
NOTE: All statistics are unofficial, as no regulation box score was recorded during either match
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The first exhibition game action for the 2015 University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team yielded a positive outcome beyond the final score Sunday against Ohio State at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The No. 4 Irish and No. RV Buckeyes battled to a 0-0 draw in a 60-minute contest to open the day before Ohio State claimed a 2-1 decision in a regulation match, yet the defending Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular-season champion Notre Dame squad accomplished a number of pre-match objectives among the split results.
“It was a great test, and I think the nice thing is that everybody that was fit got on the field,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “The first game, a 60-minute game, it was nice to see all of the young players and we got a very good look at them. That was really important, to find out whom we’re going to have as the season progresses. We’ll have another day like that on Wednesday at Butler, a smaller 45-minute game leading up to the big game. I think these games are so good, and everybody feels a part of it.
“The first game was very successful in giving us a look,” Clark added. “The result of 0-0 I don’t think was necessarily the most important part of it, and it was a fair result. The second game we controlled the second half after Ohio State controlled the first half.”
Facing a 2-0 deficit following a pair of Ohio State goals in the first half, Notre Dame bounced back with a strong showing in the second half of the late match. Sophomore forward Jon Gallagher netted the lone Irish goal of the contest, while other key players worked their way back into the lineup returning from injury.
“Positives from that game included Patrick Hodan,” Clark said. “I was only going to play him 45 minutes coming back from a minor injury, and he came off at halftime after we had just given up two goals and he wanted another 15 minutes out of it. We gave Patrick 60 minutes and he looked good, very good from a fitness point of view throughout. It was very positive to have him back looking sharp.”
The split games provided a great opportunity for not only the Notre Dame freshmen to see live time on the field during the preseason slate, but a handful of returning Irish veterans were able to showcase their skills with extra minutes available. Freshmen Ian Aschieris and Thomas Ueland were among the younger players that each saw time in the nightcap against Ohio State.
“(Sophomore defender) Patrick Berneski saw some time in that first game, and (junior defender) Matt Habrowski we just played for a half because he is also coming back from injury and has been training half days,” Clark said. “That was fine for him and he played well, he looked very sharp.”
Ohio State struck for the first time in the 18th minute, when a Buckeye shot from the Notre Dame third of the field caromed off Habrowski and found its way into the net. The own goal gave Ohio State an early 1-0 edge.
“That was the only downside for Matt, he played well, very calm and assured back on defense,” Clark said.
The Buckeyes connected on the ultimate game-winning goal in the 37th minute, when defender Liam Doyle converted a free kick from 20 yards to send the hosts to the break with a 2-0 advantage.
“For a team as fit as we are I thought we came off our blocks a bit slow,” Clark said. “We don’t normally do that, and because of it we never really took control of the game. Give Ohio State full credit, I thought they worked very hard and pressured us into a couple of mistakes. Both goals came off turning the ball over in our back half of the field, they capitalized and transitioned quickly. That was a good lesson to us on being a bit sharper with our passing in our own half, and we can improve at that as we move forward.”
Notre Dame will remain on the road leading up to Wednesday’s contests at Butler in Indianapolis, Indiana. After a full day of training on the Butler campus Tuesday, the Irish and Bulldogs are scheduled to kick off in the early contest at 5 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday.
Season and single game tickets for Notre Dame men’s soccer are on sale now. Visit und.com/tickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356.
— Tony Jones, Athletics Communications Assistant