Oct. 12, 2017
by Tony Jones
2017 NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER – Match 13
#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (7-6-0, 1-4-0 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As the stretch run builds nearing the end of the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team readies for its penultimate regular-season contest at Alumni Stadium. The No. 7 Irish welcome a familiar face in former BIG EAST Conference and current ACC foe Pittsburgh to the Notre Dame campus for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest Friday on ACC Network Extra.
Notre Dame (9-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) is unbeaten in its last four starts after defeating No. 24 Michigan by a 3-1 final score on Tuesday night at Alumni Stadium. It was the first time in the last seven Irish contests that the final score line did not end in a draw or in a one-goal decision. Notre Dame has compiled a 6-0-1 record this season at Alumni Stadium, and is 1-0-1 in limited ACC home action.
Pittsburgh (7-6-0) has won four of its last five games after downing Penn State 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday night. The Panthers have nearly quadrupled their win total (2) from 2016 after only 13 starts, and claimed the first ACC win in program history with a 2-1 triumph over No. 21 Syracuse on Sept. 29.
Irish Surge Past Michigan
A goal in the 56th minute from Jeff Farina, and a brace over the final 10 minutes for Jon Gallagher, provided the winning margin for Notre Dame on Tuesday night. A wild second half ended in a 3-1 Irish win over No. 24 Michigan at Alumni Stadium.
Despite trailing Michigan by a 5-2 count in shots in the first half, No. 7 Notre Dame responded strongly with a 10-7 edge in the second period to even the final total at 12-12. Two Wolverine players received yellow cards to just one player for the Irish, and a third Michigan player was ultimately sent off with 22 seconds remaining due to a straight red card.
The Irish improved to 9-0-2 (.950) all-time against Michigan in games played on the Notre Dame campus, including a 4-0-1 margin in tilts at Alumni Stadium.
Irish Continue 2nd Half Heroics
Notre Dame’s 3-1 win over No. 24 Michigan on Tuesday 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; 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 Riding Hot Streak
Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Jon Gallagher earned his second ACC Offensive Player of the Week scroll of the 2017 season on Monday. 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 with two goals, including the game-winner in the 82nd minute, and an assist on Tuesday night against No. 24 Michigan.
After 12 starts in 2017, Gallagher is the ACC leader with 10 goals, a total that is good for a share of fifth nationally in NCAA Division I men’s soccer. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year also leads all league strikers with 57 total shots attempted (4.75 per game), and is tied for fourth in the conference with 17 points thus far.
Farina’s Career Year Continues
The other senior striker at the front of the Notre Dame attack, Jeff Farina, has continued his steady play and best showing to date in an Irish uniform in 2017.
Farina, who ranks second on the Notre Dame roster behind striking mate Jon Gallagher with a career-high six goals and 17 points, is tied with Gallagher after tallying three game-winning goals in his first 12 starts this season. Farina is three assists (19) from breaking into the Notre Dame top 10 career assists chart.
Irish In The RPI
In the second release of the ratings percentage index (RPI) by the NCAA for the 2017 Division I men’s soccer season, Notre Dame was slotted fifth in the week two rankings. The Irish have faced the 10th-hardest schedule in the entire NCAA as of Oct. 9, leading into Friday’s game with No. 30 Pittsburgh.
Future Notre Dame opponents and their current RPI include No. 25 Akron (Oct. 17), No. 7 Duke (Oct. 20), No. 1 Michigan State (Oct. 24) and No. 3 North Carolina (Oct. 27).
Irish In The ACC
In its fifth full season as an ACC member, Notre Dame has recorded a 23-8-9 (.688) conference mark in the regular season since 2013. The Irish shared the ACC regular-season championship (7-1-3) in 2013 before claiming the top position in the ACC Coastal Division (6-1-1) in 2014.
Notre Dame has logged a 12-2-5 (.763) record in home matches during the ACC regular season over the past four years, and has not lost a conference home match since Oct. 3, 2014 (1-0 to Boston College).
Pittsburgh enters Friday’s game with a 7-6-0 record after defeating Penn State 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. The Panthers have defeated a pair of top 25 foes already this season, dropping No. 21 Syracuse 2-1 on Sept. 29 and No. 14 Columbia 1-0 on Oct. 3. It marked the first ranked victories for Pitt since the 2011 season, when the Panthers were a member of the BIG EAST Conference.
Head coach Jay Vidovich is 9-19-3 (.339) in his second season at Pitt, and is the midst of rebuilding the Panthers program after a 21-year tenure at Wake Forest. Vidovich won over 270 games and was a five-time ACC Coach of the Year with the Demon Deacons.
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.