Oct. 6, 2017
by Tony Jones
CLEMSON, S.C. – The last time the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team traveled to Clemson, during the 2013 season, the Irish withstood an aggressive Tiger squad and claimed a 2-1 overtime win. History nearly repeated itself exactly on Friday night, as a Jon Gallagher goal in the 47th minute and a Gallagher to Jeff Farina connection in the 89th minute stunned No. 5 Clemson by that same score line at Historic Riggs Field.
No. 9 Notre Dame (8-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) proved to be stellar on defense throughout the contest, and despite being outshot 19-8 by Clemson (8-3-0, 2-3-0 ACC) ultimately trailed by just a 5-4 margin in shots on goal. Goalkeeper Chris Hubbard added four key saves in the Irish net for the third consecutive win over a top-15 Clemson side for Notre Dame in the regular season.
Clemson was on the front foot during the early moments of the match, before a midfield giveaway in the fifth minute found its way to Farina on a breakaway. In a moment of foreshadowing the game’s outcome, Farina was unable to beat Clemson goalkeeper Ximo Miralles to put Notre Dame on the scoreboard.
With Notre Dame attempting to play the ball down the field to its strikers, the Irish nearly caught Clemson keeper Miralles cheating up the pitch in the 23rd minute. Gallagher beat Miralles on the dribble down the left wing and flicked a shot toward the open net, but a nice play by a trailing Clemson defender swiped the sure goal out of danger.
Clemson remained on the offensive throughout the first half, and Oliver Shannon hit an incredible strike in the 38th minute that knuckled in toward the Notre Dame frame. Hubbard sat back on the shot and punched it artfully to the side for a huge save. The Tigers remained dangerous for the rest of the opening half, but the first 45 minutes ended with the teams deadlocked at no score.
The Irish quickly turned the tide less than two minutes into the second half. A give-and-go from Blake Townes to Farina to Townes sent the Notre Dame midfielder free down the right wing. On a fantastic run, Townes threaded a through ball to a trailing Gallagher that was tucked inside the right post with a sliding stab. Gallagher’s eighth goal of the year made it 1-0 Notre Dame at 46:50.
Clemson countered quickly, with Alex Hemmingsen notching his first goal of the season on a scrum in front of the Notre Dame net to level the score at 1-1 at 49:49.
With dangerous Clemson striker Diego Campos free on the run in the 58th minute, Hubbard stood tall and cut off Campos’ options at frame and punched a shot away. Felicien Dumas arrived on the scene and helped clear the zone.
A through ball for Clemson in the 70th minute saw Shannon leak forward at the right Notre Dame post, but his attempted shot toward the iron on the far side was quickly snapped up by Hubbard.
After withstanding the Clemson pressure, Dumas won a free kick for Notre Dame thanks to a strong challenge down the left wing with the clock waning. From the tough angle, Gallagher put a right-footed cross on a rope to the front of the net for a leaping Farina, who blasted a header into the back of the mesh for his fifth goal of the season and the 2-1 Notre Dame winner at 88:02.
Notre Dame returns to Alumni Stadium for a nonconference showdown with Michigan on Tuesday night. The Irish and Wolverines square off at 7 p.m. (ET) on ACC Network Extra.
Play of the Game
With the game looking like it was headed to overtime, Felicien Dumas won Notre Dame a free kick deep in Clemson territory with the game tied at 1-1. Jon Gallagher calmly dropped a perfect service in front to fellow striker Jeff Farina, and a smashing header gave the Irish the victory at 88:02.
Chris Hubbard stonewalled Clemson speedster Diego Campos on a breakaway in the 58th minute, one of four saves for Hubbard on the night. Hubbard’s stop helped Notre Dame regain some of the game’s momentum with the score deadlocked at 1-1.
Note of the Game
The last two game-winning goals for Notre Dame against Clemson have been scored off headers on set pieces. When the Irish and Tigers last met on Sept. 12, 2015 at Alumni Stadium, Matt Habrowski headed home an Evan Panken corner kick in the 51st minute for the 1-0 Notre Dame victory. That tally for Habrowski joined the Gallagher to Farina free kick from Friday night’s tussle.
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.