Nov. 7, 2015
by Tony Jones
DATE: Nov. 8, 2015
TIME: 1 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium — cap. 3,500)
LAST MEETING: ND, 3-1 (9/25/15 at ND)
TICKETS: UND.com/tickets; (574) 631-7356
A familiar scene on the pitch in the month of November over the last three seasons has been the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team facing off against Virginia. For the fourth time since 2013 the No. 4 seed Irish and No. 5 seed Cavaliers will meet in the postseason, with the next round being a Sunday Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship quarterfinal match at Alumni Stadium. The 1 p.m. (ET) contest will be streamed live on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.
No. 9 Notre Dame (9-3-5) earned a 3-1 victory over No. 17/13 Virginia (9-3-3) on Sept. 25 during a regular season meeting between the teams at Alumni Stadium, behind goals from Mark Gormley, Evan Panken, and Connor Klekota. The victory was the first regular season win for the Irish against the Cavaliers in a series that dates back to 1985.
“We really just take it one game at a time,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It is the second season and the players know that, they know whatever tournament they are in it’s win and go forward. We didn’t get the first part of the treble (regular season, tournament, and national championship), but it would be nice to get this group our first ACC tournament championship. Every team wants to make history, and this is an opportunity to do that.”
Virginia enters Sunday’s match with a 9-3-3 record as the fifth seed in the ACC Championship after drawing 0-0 with North Carolina in its most recent start on Oct. 30. The Cavaliers are the defending NCAA champions, defeating UCLA 4-2 in penalty kicks during the College Cup final last December in Cary, North Carolina.
Head coach George Gelnovatch has led Virginia to five NCAA College Cup appearances (1997, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014), claiming the 2009 and 2014 national titles. The Cavaliers have qualified for the NCAA Championship in each of the last 34 seasons, including all 19 campaigns with Gelnovatch as head coach.
“They’ve got some very talented players,” Clark said. “Their two freshmen Edward Opoku and Derrick Etienne, we haven’t seen a lot of. Their whole team is really quite explosive and they have a lot of experience. The big thing is their upperclassmen have the confidence of winning tournaments, they know how to stay in games.
“A great feature of the team last year was not losing goals,” Clark said. “They came in here last year (in the NCAA tournament) and won, went to Georgetown and won on penalty kicks, big games for any team. Any team that can do that is strong, and we know they are very good.”
Spreading Out The Scoring
Five different players found the goal column in last weekend’s 5-0 Notre Dame victory over Pittsburgh on Senior Day. Jon Gallagher, Evan Panken, Brandon Aubrey, Mark Gormley, and Jeffrey Farina each added tallies to their season goal accounts in the clean sheet performance against the Panthers.
The five goal scorers in a single match were the most for Notre Dame since five different Irish players found the back of the net in a 7-1 win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, 2012.
Unbeaten At Home In ACC Tourney
Notre Dame looks to improve to 3-0 in home ACC Championship games on Sunday. The Irish previously shut out Duke 1-0 on Nov. 12, 2013 during the program’s first ACC tournament match before blanking Virginia 3-0 on Nov. 9, 2014 at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish have earned a result in 10 of the last 11 conference tournaments games they have hosted dating back to a 2-0 win over Connecticut on Nov. 9, 2003.
Irish Enjoying The Home Cooking
With a 7-1-1 (.833) record in regular season matches at Alumni Stadium, Notre Dame has maximized all benefits of home field advantage thus far in 2015. Included in the home success was a spotless 4-0-0 mark in ACC matches.
The Irish have outscored ACC opponents 12-3 at Alumni Stadium this season, including an 8-3 margin during the second half. Notre Dame also holds the edge in shots (62-26), shots on goal (28-12), and corner kicks (35-17), and has logged 13 assists to just the two of ACC counterparts at home.
ND When Scoring 1st In Home Games
Scoring the first goal has been the key to eight of Notre Dame’s nine victories in 2015, and has been a result guarantee in contests played at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish have been the first team on the scoreboard in six of nine home matches this season, winning on all six previous occasions when netting the first goal. Notre Dame has outscored the opposition 23-7 during its first nine home starts in 2015.
UVA A Familiar Face At Alumni
Prior to the 2013 season Notre Dame and Virginia had met three times on the soccer field, twice in Charlottesville, Virginia (1985 and 2006), and once in Bloomington (1989), all of which were Cavalier victories. Both teams will meet for the fifth time at Alumni Stadium since Oct. 26, 2013 on Sunday.
In those meetings on the Notre Dame campus the series is tied 2-2-0 after the Irish downed Virginia 3-1 in ACC action earlier this season on Sept. 25. Notre Dame defeated the Cavaliers 3-0 in the ACC quarterfinal round on Nov. 9, 2014, before Virginia earned a 1-0 victory over the Irish in the NCAA Championship Round of 16 later that month (Nov. 30).
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.