Nov. 9, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team’s 2014 postseason is off to a solid start as the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish topped No. 15 Virginia 3-0 in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Championship on Sunday afternoon at brisk and windy Alumni Stadium.
Top-seeded Notre Dame (11-4-3) used goals from Leon Brown, Brandon Aubrey and Patrick Hodan to defeat Virginia, the No. 8 seed, for the first time in seven all-time tries. Fighting Irish goalkeeper Patrick Wall made eight saves, which was one away from tying a career-high mark, to notch his sixth shutout of the season.
Notre Dame will face No. 4 seed Clemson at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Friday in the semifinals at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The Irish did not face the Tigers during the regular season. Syracuse and Louisville will square off in the second semifinal. The title game is slated for 2 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
The Fighting Irish only needed four shots on goal to post their three tallies. Brown opened the scoring in the 28th minute when he received a nice cross from Evan Panken and blasted a 16-yard attempt past a diving Calle Brown. Leon Brown, a fifth-year senior forward, has a career-high six goals this season and three have come in the last two games.
Notre Dame pushed the lead to two less than seven minutes later. The scoring sequence began on a Hodan corner kick and after the ball was batted around in the box, Aubrey, a sophomore central defender, got a foot on it and sent it to the back netting for his second goal of the season. The Irish led 2-0 at the intermission.
“It was nice that we got the two goals when we had the wind in the first half,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “When we got the third goal from Patrick (Hodan) that made it a little bit easier. The whole team worked phenomenally hard. It was a good performance and we finally got to beat Virginia. They are a very good team and they had our number for a while.”
Virginia (10-6-2) did not go away despite the halftime deficit. The Cavaliers attacked throughout the second half and Wall was called upon to make six saves in the stanza. His first stop of the second half came in the 52nd minute off a Scott Thomsen attempt and the fifth-year senior negated a Riggs Lennon shot in the 55th minute.
Hodan nearly upped the Irish advantage to three in the 56th minute when he placed a shot just wide of the far post from 15 yards out. The junior midfielder wasn’t denied minutes later when he collected a pass from Nick Besler, maneuvered past a Cavalier defender and hammered home his team-best ninth goal of the season with a laser shot from the top of the penalty box.
Wall continued to be a solid presence in goal the remainder of the contest and he got a little help from the framework in the 62nd minute when Darius Madison rifled a shot off the far post.
“I thought Pat Wall handled the ball superbly the whole game,” Clark stated. “He did a good job taking crosses and thru balls. He was terrific.”
The Fighting Irish currently have a four-game unbeaten streak, which ties a season-best mark, and Notre Dame is 6-1-1 in its last eight matches.
ACC Championship Quarterfinal
Nov. 9, 2014
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
#15 Virginia (10-6-2) 0 0 – 0
#4 Notre Dame (11-4-3) 2 1 – 3
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director