Oct. 16, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 14
#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3-1) vs. #RV Akron Zips (8-3-1)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Only two nonconference games remain for the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team during the 2017 regular season. The Irish open fall break in Akron, Ohio on Tuesday night for a showdown with the Zips of the University of Akron at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. The 7 p.m. (ET) game will air live on ESPN3.
No. 7 Notre Dame (9-3-1) has been victorious in its last two midweek nonconference games, most recently downing No. 24 Michigan 3-1 on Oct. 10 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish are a combined 6-1 in nonconference play thus far in 2017, with the only setback being a 1-0 decision at No. 1 Indiana on Sept. 26.
Akron (8-3-1) is in search of its seventh win in its last eight starts, with victories over No. 21 UMass Lowell (5-0 on Sept. 24) and No. 1 Michigan State (4-1 on Sept. 27) included in its recent run of form. The Zips have not defeated Notre Dame in Akron since 1988, and the Irish were the only team to notch a check in the loss column (3-1 on Sept. 9 of that season) for Akron during an 18-1-3 campaign in 2012.
Pitt Counters Irish Attack
Despite controlling large portions of the game and the final stat sheet, a victory was not in the cards for Notre Dame in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) action on Friday night. A counterattack in the 52nd minute allowed Pittsburgh to slip past the Irish 1-0 at Alumni Stadium.
No. 7 Notre Dame dropped its first decision at Alumni Stadium this season despite outshooting Pitt 17-9 on the night. The Irish also held a 10-5 advantage in corner kicks, and spent considerable time on the attack in the Panther defensive third. It was the third ranked win for Pitt in the past two weeks of play.
It was the first home conference loss in the regular season for the Irish since Boston College (1-0) blanked Notre Dame on Oct. 3, 2014.
Irish Still Dangerous In 2nd Half
Notre Dame’s 3-1 win over No. 24 Michigan on Oct. 10 marked the sixth time this season Notre Dame has found an equalizer and/or winning goal within the last 15 minutes of regulation or overtime thus far. Jeff Farina scored in the 101st minute of a 2-1 win over Cal Poly (Aug. 27), the 84th minute of a 1-0 victory at UConn (Sept. 2), and headed in the winning goal in the 89th minute at Clemson (Oct. 6); Thomas Ueland found a strike in the 77th minute to down Bowling Green 2-1 (Sept. 19); Jon Gallagher sent home a Sean Dedrick cross in the 99th minute to beat Northwestern 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 3, and buried a strike in the 82nd minute before adding an insurance penalty in the 90th minute of a 3-1 triumph over Michigan.
Gallagher Near The ACC Summit
Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Jon Gallagher earned his second ACC Offensive Player of the Week scroll of the 2017 season on Oct. 9. Gallagher scored a pair of goals (one game-winner) and added a game-winning assist to lead the Irish to wins over Northwestern and No. 5 Clemson. Gallagher continued his hot streak last week with two goals, including the game-winner in the 82nd minute, and an assist on Oct. 10 against No. 24 Michigan.
After 13 starts in 2017, Gallagher is second in the ACC with 10 goals, a total that is good for a share of eighth nationally in NCAA Division I men’s soccer. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year also leads all league strikers with 60 total shots attempted (4.62 per game), and is tied for second in the conference with 22 points. Gallagher was tabbed as the No. 1 forward in Division I soccer (No. 4 player overall) by TopDrawerSoccer in its midseason Men’s National Top 100.
ND In One-Goal Games
Last Friday night’s matchup with Pitt was the eighth Notre Dame game decided by one goal thus far in 2017. Despite the setback to the Panthers, the Irish are 5-3 in one-goal games this season after 13 starts.
The trend of close results has become a staple of the ACC in men’s soccer. Of the 36 ACC games played across the conference this season as of Oct. 14, a total of 25 have been one-goal games or have ended in a draw. This is the second straight season Notre Dame has played at least 13 games without sustaining a multi-goal defeat, and the last full Irish season without a multi-goal loss occurred in 2014.
Irish In The RPI
In the third release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame was again slotted fifth in the week three rankings. The Irish have faced the fourth-hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 16, leading into Tuesday’s game with No. 23 Akron.
Future Notre Dame opponents and their current RPI include No. 6 Duke (Oct. 20), No. 4 Michigan State (Oct. 24) and No. 1 North Carolina (Oct. 27).
Irish Against The MAC
In 55 prior starts against teams from the current Mid-American Conference (MAC) membership, Notre Dame has notched a 25-21-9 (.536) combined series record. The eight wins against both Western Michigan and West Virginia are the most for the Irish against MAC foes, along with six victories against Bowling Green. Akron owns a 3-7-3 all-time edge against Notre Dame despite not earning a result against the Irish since the 2008 season (or in Akron since the 1988 campaign).
Akron enters Tuesday’s game with an 8-3-1 record after defeating SIUE 3-1 last Friday in MAC play. The Zips have earned a result in nine of their past 10 starts, dating back to a 2-1 win over No. 10 Washington on Sept. 1 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field. Included in that stretch was a 4-1 win at home over No. 1 Michigan State on Sept. 27.
Head coach Jared Embick is 69-22-10 (.733) in his fifth season at the helm of the Akron program, and has led the Zips to four straight NCAA tournament berths and the 2015 NCAA College Cup. Akron won the 2010 national championship with Embick on staff as an assistant.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director 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 Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.