NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 9-ranked Fighting Irish opened the 2019 season with a 3-2 win at Saint Louis on Saturday night in front of a raucous Hermann Stadium crowd.
Sophomore Jack Lynn put in a stellar homecoming performance, as the St. Louis native scored a goal and picked up an assist in the win. Freshman Mohammad Abualnadi scored the opening goal of the night in the second minute while junior Aiden McFadden capped off the scoring in 67th minute.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish could not have scripted a better start to the season than what played out in the opening minutes. After Notre Dame won a free kick in a dangerous position, Felicien Dumas unleashed a low drive to the far post, forcing a save from the Saint Louis keeper. Abualnadi pounced on the rebound and slotted into the open net to put the Irish up 1-0 just 1:12 into the match.
It looked like the Irish would take the one-goal advantage into the half but the Billikens managed to score a goal in the 43rd minute off a strike from Chris Bruch to level the match at 1-1 after the first 45 minutes of action.
After a fairly even first 15 minutes of play to start the second half, the Irish took control with a sublime passing sequence in the 65th minute to take a 2-1 lead. Irish goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull made a diving save at the post on the defensive end, sparking a transition sequence that ended up with Lynn finding the back of the net off the setup from Ian Aschieris and Spencer Farina.
Less than two minutes later the Irish doubled their advantage, as Lynn placed a perfectly-weighted through ball to McFadden, who calmly placed the shot past the Saint Louis keeper to make the score 3-1 in the 67th minute.
The Billikens managed to get one back in the 81st minute, after John Klein headed in a free kick but the Irish held strong for the remainder of the match to come away with the 3-2 victory.
STAT OF THE MATCH
Abualnadi’s goal at the 1:12 mark is tied for the second fastest to open a match since the 1995 season.
HEAD COACH CHAD RILEY’S TAKE
On the opener…
“I am proud of the effort. I thought it was going to be a tough game. Saint Louis has got a lot of pride and history and they are a good team. It was an excellent atmosphere and we knew it was going to be a tough one.
“We got off to an excellent start with the early goal and then they got one back at halftime. We probably should have done better with both of their goals but we went into halftime and regrouped and believed in what we are doing.
“I think we scored two excellent goals to go up 3-1 and then we knew it would be chaos. We didn’t get a lot of breaks after that and they got a scrappy second goal that made the end exciting.
“I am proud of the group and think we grew a lot. We got a lot of guys meaningful experience that I think will serve us well going forward.”
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish improve to 26-9-8 in season openers in program history.
- Lynn and McFadden’s goals were the fourth of each of their careers.
- Farina recorded the first assist of his career.
- With the assist, Dumas has 15 in his Notre Dame career, the most by any active player.
- The freshmen duo of Mohammad Abualnadi and Michael Pellegrino earned starting roles in their first match at the collegiate level.
- Along with Abualnadi and Pellegrino, Patrick Coleman, Ben Giacobello, Tyler Shea and Brian Silver also earned their first caps with the Irish.
The Irish host the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame welcomes Seattle at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 6 and then takes on Denver at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 8.
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