Nov. 22, 2015
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Despite controlling the run of play for the majority of Sunday’s NCAA Championship Round of 32 match, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team needed to dig that much deeper against Tulsa. A deadlocked 1-1 draw after 110 minutes yielded the first Irish shootout of 2015 and No. 7 seed Notre Dame answered the call, advancing 3-0 on penalty kicks in what was a chilly day at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame (11-4-6) welcomes No. 10 Maryland for a Nov. 29 showdown at Alumni Stadium in the NCAA Round of 16. The Irish reached the tournament’s final 16 for the fourth consecutive year, marking the first time in program history that a class (2016) has reached the NCAA’s second weekend in each of its four competitive seasons.
“I thought we never settled into the second half, we knew they would come out very hard and put a big push at the beginning of the half,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It knocked us a little bit out of our rhythm, and then they got a goal. We then started to chase with passion rather than our heads, we needed to get our discipline back.
“We were really working hard and our team was putting out a tremendous effort in the second half, and toward the end of the half we still dominated even though they were a dangerous team. In the two overtimes we really took over the game, we got our discipline back at that point and began to play,” Clark added.
Jeffrey Farina had the best Irish look in the overtime periods, camped near the left post in the 97th minute. A flick toward the corner of the net hit the iron and caromed out to thwart the Notre Dame game-winning chance. The game entered the penalty shootout stage after both teams managed four shots each during the 20 extra minutes.
In the first penalty kick shootout of the season the Irish looked to make an early impact. Tri-captain Patrick Hodan and Jon Gallagher connected on two of the first three Notre Dame attempts against Tulsa (8-6-7) goalkeeper Jake McGuire, while Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Hubbard stonewalled the Golden Hurricane on three straight tries.
Tri-captain Max Lachowecki finished the contest with a goal in the fourth round to move Notre Dame on to a rematch with Maryland.
“We’ve practiced and done penalty kicks pretty regularly for the last three or four weeks, before the ACC tournament we were prepared,” Clark said. “I think all the guys knew it was coming (at some point), it’s never easy. When you have a goalkeeper that pulls off fantastic saves it makes it a lot easier. Chris did a fantastic job, and all the saves he made were quite well hit penalties down the corner. He got to them.”
For Hubbard, rising to the occasion in his first career NCAA Championship start and penalty kick shootout looked routine. It was the solid preparation, and a reliance on his teammates, that helped keep the Irish netminder grounded when the pressure was on.
“I just knew I had to make one (save) because I know how well we can take penalties,” Hubbard said. “The team knows that I really have to get just one and we will win a penalty shootout, and to get three it helped. The Tulsa penalties were great, and it really takes pressure off my shoulders when I know (my teammates) are going to make them. It changes with every player, how they line up and approach the ball. It’s different with everyone and I just happened to get it right.
“They really only broke us down a few times (during the game) and I really didn’t face many shots, but they were always dangerous,” Hubbard said. “They had someone forward and tried to press off us, it was tough. They were always on the edge of being dangerous, but we handled it well.”
Notre Dame quickly gained possession off the opening kick, and Lachowecki drove his way toward the Tulsa net in the game’s first minute. Lachowecki’s try from 20 yards out sailed wide to the left and out of play.
A give and go from Gallagher and Michael Shipp up the right wing in the ninth minute started the first true Notre Dame surge. Shipp sent a tempting cross in front to a cutting Hodan, whose flying right-footed stab carried outside the right post.
Tulsa claimed an errant Notre Dame clearance in the 21st minute when Lesley Nchanji gathered the ball at the top of the Irish 18-yard box. A strong left boot from Nchanji carried over top of the crossbar.
The Irish persistence over the opening half was rewarded in the 24th minute. A Lachowecki charge down the left side cleared out of the Tulsa defense, and a great cross out front caromed off a Golden Hurricane defender. Farina was on the scene to finish inside the six-yard box for his third goal of the year and a 1-0 Notre Dame lead at 23:15.
Tulsa found its counter against the run of play in the 62nd minute. A lob from the left wing ricocheted off the left post, clipping Juan Sanchez and finding its way into the goal. Sanchez’ eighth goal of the year tied the match at 1-1 at 61:34.
“Tulsa always has a lot of numbers high,” Lachowecki said. “We’re a team that likes to build off the play, so after we win a ball with somebody in the back we’re looking to play. Because they had so many numbers high it was an advantage to try to win it back, and I think that’s what happened. They picked it off us and anything can happen in the box. They played it in and it was a bit of an unlikely ricochet, but that’s what happens when you push that many numbers high and serve dangerous balls into the box. Credit to them for being relentless around the top of the box.”
A lofting 70th minute free kick found its way to Patrick Berneski at the left side of the 18-yard box. Berneski got a solid head on the pass but the shot attempt went wide of the near post.
Evan Panken served a looping corner kick from the near flag in the 82nd minute, blasting the attempt clear across the box to the right post. Brandon Aubrey met the try with a strong header that was punched aside by Tulsa goalkeeper McGuire.
Tulsa again pushed forward in the 87th minute looking for the game-winner. Miguel Velasquez looked to finish a strong run down the left wing, but Hubbard stood tall in the Notre Dame net for a crucial save.
“We did kind of fall into a bit of a lull after (the Tulsa goal),” Lachowecki said. “Boss mentioned playing out of passion instead of with intelligence, and like he said you can’t fault our effort on the field. That’s one thing we’re so sure of is that we will outwork the other team, and you could see, even myself, get caught flying high a few times not thinking about giving up a goal. I think we settled in toward the end of the game and they were kind of hoping to take this to penalties.”
Notre Dame and Maryland previously battled to a 0-0 tie in the opening game of the 2015 regular season at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic on Aug. 28 in Bloomington. The Irish have claimed a result in their last three meetings with the Terrapins in a competitive series between the teams, including a 2-1 win in the 2013 NCAA Championship final at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Nov. 22, 2015
No. 7 Notre Dame 1, Tulsa 1 (2OT)
NCAA Championship Round of 32
Alumni Stadium (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Tulsa 0 1 0 0 — 1
No. 7 Notre Dame 1 0 0 0 — 1
Notre Dame advances 3-0 on penalty kicks
Shots: ND 17 (7-6-4-0), TULSA 12 (4-4-1-3)
Shots on goal: ND 7 (2-3-2-0), TULSA 4 (1-3-0-0)
Saves: ND 3 (Chris Hubbard 3 in 110:00), TULSA 6 (Jake McGuire 6 in 110:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 8 (1-4-2-1), TULSA 5 (2-2-0-1)
Fouls: ND 7, TULSA 13
Offsides: ND 4, TULSA 2
Yellow Card: Rollie Rocha (Tulsa) 95:54
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.