Nov. 11, 2015
by Tony Jones
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A 60th minute goal from freshman Thomas Ueland powered the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over No. 1 Wake Forest in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship on Wednesday night before 5,009 fans at Spry Stadium.
No. 9 Notre Dame (11-3-5) advances to the ACC Championship match on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET). The Irish welcome Syracuse in the ACC title game clash, who downed Clemson 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Wednesday’s triumph for the Irish was their first victory over a national No. 1 team since Notre Dame downed top ranked UCLA 2-1 in overtime on Aug. 31, 2007 in Bloomington, Indiana. The crowd in excess of 5,000 fans was the largest to ever see a Wake Forest postseason soccer match.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere for college soccer, just like it was here a few weeks ago,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It was two very good teams, a competitive game, and a very skillful game. It was always going to be a one-goal game, fortunately we came out on top this time. Congratulations to everybody. That was two games we played here with fantastic fans. 5,000 people there on a Wednesday night game was fantastic, great atmosphere.
“We held well in the last 10 minutes, but there was a period in the second half where I thought we had good control,” Clark added. “After we scored the goal we had a nice control over the game, and having said that I was quite happy to hear the final whistle blow.”
Notre Dame picked up its first scoring chance deep in the Wake Forest (15-2-2) zone in the sixth minute after tri-captain Max Lachowecki drew a corner kick. A corner service from Evan Panken and a lob over the top from Michael Shipp was cleared out of the Demon Deacon zone.
Wake Forest looked for its first goal on a bending free kick in the 11th minute. Jon Bakero skied for a header inside the box that ran off the crossbar and out of the goal mouth. A long follow-up shot by Jacori Hayes was saved by Chris Hubbard.
A tri-captain Patrick Hodan free kick in the 14th minute was punched aside by Wake Forest goalkeeper Alec Ferrell, starting a counter attack for the Demon Deacons. Hayes on the run tried to hit a shot from the right wing that Hubbard punched away for a crucial save.
Wake Forest built the attack in the 29th minute up the left channel, with Hayes sending an impressive through ball along to Ian Harkes. Harkes’ try at the near post was turned aside by Hubbard.
ACC Offensive Player of the Year Jack Harrison sprung himself down the left wing in the 44th minute. Hubbard dove to his right to snag the well-timed shot that was headed for the far post.
Notre Dame attempted one final first half salvo in the 45th minute. Great touch passing from Hodan to Mark Gormley on the right corner of the box set up a cross to a charging Lachowecki up the left flank. Lachowecki was unmarked on the run, but his diving header carried over the crossbar to send the match to the half scoreless.
The Irish had the run of play early in the second half, as Shipp had a shot saved by Ferrell in the 49th minute before Lachowecki had an attempt blocked in the 51st minute. Wake Forest cleared both tries out of danger.
Notre Dame’s perseverance paid off in the 60th minute. A failed Wake Forest clearance in the box was nudged along by Hodan. A subsequent deflection off a Demon Deacon defender found its way to Ueland, who buried a kick from eight yards out into the bottom left of the net for his fourth goal of the year and a 1-0 Irish advantage at 59:41.
“The coaches always tell us to stay hunting, and I was in the box and got a fortuitous bounce,” Ueland said. “I was able to bury it. Patrick Hodan took a shot and it deflected, and the ball fell right to me. Instincts kind of took over and I just finished it.”
Harrison camped into dangerous territory off a pass from Hayes in the right of the box in the 67th minute. A strong left-footed try squared up with the near post sailed high and out of bounds.
“It was one of those things that, even though Boss might have been nervous until he heard the final whistle there was just a feeling we had in the back four that we weren’t getting scored on,” Hubbard said. “Even though we gave them a few good free kicks outside the box and they were in our half a lot in the final 10 minutes, we just had a feeling we weren’t getting scored on. We were going to do whatever it takes, and you saw there were scrambles in front of the box, people were flying blocking shots. I love to see the defense in front of me putting their body on the line to stop the ball.”
Panken lofted a tempting corner kick from the far flag out front to Brandon Aubrey in the 69th minute, who centered the ball nicely from straight on to Blake Townes. Townes dropped a strong right foot on the ball, but it rose just over the bar.
A hand ball call on an attempted Notre Dame clearance in the 83rd minute gave Wake Forest’s Harkes a solid look at a free kick. The try drifted just wide of the left post.
“A goal always helps,” Clark said. “The last time here when we lost a goal we lost the momentum. We went one up and when they got a goal they took the momentum. It gave us something to hang on to, and when you get a goal you’re in a strong position. It was a strong goal, and there were a lot of strong performances (all over the field) today. I was very pleased for our team to come into the home of the number one team in the country, in front of 5,000 people, and handle big periods of the game.”
A final shot by the ever dangerous Harrison went wide to the right to clinch the Notre Dame victory, just its second against a national number one team since the 1994 season.
“You just have to stay calm,” Clark said. “We practice it but just staying calm, we have quite a lot of experienced players out there that have been in situations. It reminded me of our Maryland game at the 2013 College Cup when we won 2-1. In the last 10 minutes of the game you know you’re winning but it’s only one goal, it’s not a lot. It was a tight game and two very good teams, full marks to Wake Forest for making it a great game.”
Notre Dame, the ACC tournament’s fourth seed, returns to Alumni Stadium on Sunday to host seventh-seeded Syracuse, which has already won games against North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Clemson to reach the final round of the conference championship.
“It is one of the three things we set out for every year,” Hubbard said. “We set out for the league, the ACC tournament, and the national championship. We didn’t get the league (regular season) but we have a chance to mark off one of our goals on Sunday.”
Nov. 11, 2015
No. 9 Notre Dame 1, No. 1 Wake Forest 0
ACC Championship – Semifinal
Spry Stadium (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
No. 9 Notre Dame 0 1 — 1
No. 1 Wake Forest 0 0 — 0
ND 1. Thomas Ueland (4) (-), 59:41.
Shots: WF 18 (9-9), ND 11 (5-6)
Shots on goal: WF 5 (5-0), ND 4 (2-2)
Saves: WF 3 (Alec Ferrell 3 in 90:00), ND 5 (Chris Hubbard 5 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: WF 9 (5-4), ND 5 (2-3)
Fouls: WF 7, ND 12
Offsides: WF 2, ND 1
Yellow Cards: Kris Reaves (WF) 13:54; Jon Gallagher (ND) 63:44; Connor Klekota (ND) 83:39; Jon Bakero (WF) 84:54
Attendance: 5,009 (Wake Forest program record for a postseason match)
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.