Oct. 13, 2014
(6-1-4, 1-1-2 Big Ten)
#6 NOTRE DAME
(6-3-2, 3-1-1 ACC)
Tuesday, Oct. 14 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Northwestern has been a tough nut to crack for the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team but the Fighting Irish will have another chance to solve the Wildcats Tuesday evening at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame and Northwestern are meeting for the seventh straight season and the Irish are 0-3-3 in the last six encounters. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw last season at Alumni Stadium.
“Northwestern certainly has been my bogey team since I’ve been at Notre Dame,” Fighting Irish head coach Bobby Clark, who joined the program prior to the 2001 campaign, says. “They’ve all been great contests, but it is amazing to think that this is a team we’ve never beaten in my era.”
Notre Dame and Northwestern squared off 14 times between 1978 and 2000 and the Fighting Irish were 12-1-1 in those showdowns. The rivalry resumed in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament when the Wildcats scored in the 89th minute to upset the Irish, 2-1, on their home turf. The two programs met in the same round of the 2009 tournament and Northwestern produced a 3-1 win in Evanston, Ill. Following 1-1 draws in 2010 and 2011, the Wildcats captured a 2-1 home victory over Notre Dame in 2012.
All of that history has no bearing on Tuesday’s encounter. Notre Dame’s top priority is to secure a second straight victory before resuming ACC play Friday at Duke. Notre Dame let leads of 1-0 and 2-1 slip away last Friday to Louisville, but the team stayed composed and Patrick Hodan rocketed home the game winner in overtime to give the Fighting Irish the 3-2 victory. The win kept Notre Dame in a first-place tie with Virginia atop the ACC Coastal Division standings.
“After watching the (Louisville) game tape, I thought we played very smart,” Clark states. “Although we lost two goals, I thought we were very solid defensively. It also was the most dangerous we’ve looked throughout a game this season. I liked the way we’re starting to create chances and I think we’re starting to look like we can take chances now.”
The win over the 16th-ranked Cardinals moved Notre Dame to 4-0-2 this season against ranked opponents. Playing and succeeding against that stacked schedule is a major reason why the Fighting Irish currently are No. 6 in the RPI rankings, which go a long way in determining NCAA tournament selection and seeding.
The Wildcats, who are 16th in the RPI calculations, are bringing a lot of momentum with them to South Bend. Northwestern is 4-0-2 in their last six matches and the Wildcats have allowed just three goals during that stretch.
“As always, Northwestern is a very well-organized team and they know how to get results,” Clark states. “They are another top-25 team coming into town and we know this will be a very difficult game. They have some very good players and they’re well coached. They’ve always provided stiff opposition. This is another tough game on our schedule that will prepare us well for when we hopefully make it to the postseason. These are the types of teams you’re going to meet in the postseason. It has all the trappings of a really good contest.”
– Tuesday will be the 21st all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Northwestern. The Fighting Irish lead the series 12-4-4.
– This is the seventh straight season the two teams have met. Northwestern is 3-0-3 in the last six meetings with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish and Wildcats played to a 1-1 draw last season at Notre Dame.
– Notre Dame is 8-1-2 at home against Northwestern.
A LOOK AT NORTHWESTERN
– Northwestern is 6-1-4 overall and 1-1-2 in Big Ten play. The Wildcats will bring a six-game unbeaten streak into Tuesday night’s affair with the Irish. Northwestern has gone 4-0-2 during that stretch.
– The Wildcats are averaging 1.27 goals per game, while allowing 0.55 per contest. Joey Calistri (Jr./F) and Cole Missimo (Jr./M) both have team-high marks in goals (4) and points (10). Tyler Miller (Sr.) has played every minute in goal and he carries a .872 save percentage with seven shutouts.
– Last season, Northwestern went 10-8-3 overall (1-4-1 Big Ten) and fell to Bradley, 3-2 in overtime, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
– Head coach Tim Lenahan is in his 14th season at the helm of the Wildcat program.
THE LAST TIME
– Notre Dame and Northwestern played to a 1-1 draw last season at Alumni Stadium. Max Lachowecki put the Fighting Irish up in the 37th minute, but Northwestern’s Cole Missimo netted the equalizer in the 50th minute. Notre Dame goalkeeper Patrick Wall made one save, while his counterpart Tyler Miller had four stops for the Wildcats.
– Notre Dame outshot Northwestern 22-6, including 6-2 in shots on goal.
BATTLING THE BIG TEN
– Tuesday’s match against Northwestern will be the second of four matches against Big Ten Conference foes for the Fighting Irish in October. Notre Dame opened the stretch last Tuesday with a 3-2 setback at Michigan.
– The Fighting Irish will also meet Indiana (Oct. 22) and Michigan State (Oct. 29).
– The Irish went 5-0-1 against Big Ten opposition last season. That included wins over Wisconsin (4-0) and Michigan State (2-1) in the NCAA tournament.
HOME STRETCH ENDS
– Tuesday will end a stretch that has seen the Fighting Irish play five of six games at home. Notre Dame will play at Duke on Friday and at Indiana next Wednesday before returning home to face Virginia Tech on Oct. 25.
– Notre Dame’s last two wins have been clinched on golden goals. Nick Besler netted the game winner in the 107th minute of the 1-0 double-overtime victory against VCU on Sept. 30. Patrick Hodan tallied the decisive goal in the 98th minute of Friday’s 3-2 win over Louisville.
– It marked the first time since the 2009 season that Notre Dame recorded two golden goals in a four-game stretch. That year, the game winners were against Providence and Georgetown. And, just like this season, those two results bookended a brief two-game losing streak for the Irish.
HODAN HAS A HOT WEEK
– On Friday, junior midfielder Patrick Hodan scored the golden goal in the 98th minute of the 3-2 overtime victory over Louisville. Earlier in the week, Hodan netted the equalizer (2-2) in the 68th minute of an eventual 3-2 setback at Michigan.
– Hodan has a team-best eight points this season and he is tied with Leon Brown for the team lead in goals with three.
BEATING THE BEST
– Notre Dame is 4-0-2 against ranked teams this season.
– The Fighting Irish are 20-3-8 (.774) versus ranked foes since the beginning of the 2012 season.
IRISH AT ALUMNI STADIUM
– Notre Dame is 21-4-3 (.804) at home over the past three seasons. The Fighting Irish are 39-12-9 (.725) at Alumni Stadium since it opened in 2009.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director