Nov. 27, 2016
by Tony Jones
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Timely goals by host and No. 4 seed Louisville powered the Cardinals to a 3-1 win over the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team on Sunday in the third round of the 2016 NCAA Championship at Lynn Stadium.
No. 13 Notre Dame (12-7-2) saw its season end after reaching the third round of the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year. The Irish held a 4-2 edge in total shots during the first half of Sunday’s match before Louisville (14-5-2) inched ahead by a 6-3 margin in the second frame.
All told, Notre Dame faced 10 fellow NCAA Championship qualifiers during regular season and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) tournament matches in 2016, accounting for 12 of the team’s 21 total contests. The Irish earned seven results over fellow NCAA participants, and added a 6-4-2 record against fellow top 25 foes during the campaign.
Louisville found the opening goal on just the second shot of the match in the 16th minute. Mohamed Thiaw rung the crossbar following an over the top feed from Tim Kubel, and quickly gathered in the rebound and fired into the right corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season and the 1-0 Cardinals lead at 15:10.
Notre Dame got free on the counterattack in the 19th minute, and a clearing pass up the right sideline found ACC Offensive Player of the Year Jon Gallagher in space. Gallagher made the distance run inside the Louisville 18-yard box, but his shot at the right post was snared by goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland for a key Cardinal save.
Thomas Ueland looked to make something happen in the 32nd minute to try to jumpstart the Notre Dame offense. A drive up the center of the pitch led to a strong left-footed try from Ueland that drifted just wide of the right post. Sean Dedrick followed with testy charge down the left flank one minute later, but Cleveland held his ground and corralled the ball inside the box.
With Louisville in front 1-0 emerging from the break, a free kick earned by Blake Townes set Notre Dame up at the top of the Louisville 18 in the 53rd minute. A strong free kick from the ever dangerous Brandon Aubrey sailed just high and out of play.
The Irish made the most of their next trip down the pitch in the 54th minute. Jeffrey Farina found Gallagher in space up the center of the surface, and a strong run to the right of the Louisville box evaded a diving Cleveland. Gallagher artfully dribbled to position and buried his 14th goal of the season into the net at 53:22 to tie the match at 1-1.
After winning a corner deep in the Notre Dame zone, Louisville managed to inch back in front in the 71st minute. Danny Reynolds looped a perfect service from the right flag to Tate Schmitt, who headed home his fifth goal of the year at the left post for the 2-1 Cardinals lead at 70:07.
Minutes after entering as a substitute for Notre Dame, Jack Casey put a charge into a driving chance up the field in the 82nd minute. Casey’s strong right foot was punched over the bar by Cleveland and clear of the Louisville goal.
Louisville ultimately added an insurance goal with Notre Dame pressing for the equalizer in the 90th minute. Thiaw and Daniel Johnson set up Cherif Dieye for his fifth goal of the season at 89:54 for the contest’s final score.
Play of the Game
With Notre Dame trailing by one goal, despite a measure of control of the run of play, Jeffrey Farina set the tone for the Irish attack in the 54th minute, Farina sent a pass ahead to fellow striker Jon Gallagher, and the ACC’s leading scorer connected on his 14th goal of the season to square the match at 1-1 at 53:22.
Looking to break the game open for Louisville in the 52nd minute, Mohamed Thiaw glided into the Notre Dame defensive third intent on his second goal of the match. Irish goalkeeper Chris Hubbard refused to yield his position and snagged Thiaw’s shot attempt, a sequence that set the counterattack in motion for the tying Notre Dame goal.
Notes of the Game
A total of 21 of Notre Dame’s 36 overall goals in 2016 were scored against fellow top 25 opponents. Jon Gallagher’s 14 goals during his junior campaign were the most scored by a Notre Dame player in a single season since the program joined the ACC in 2013.
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.