Nov. 11, 2015
by Tony Jones
For the third straight season, the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team finds itself in familiar territory in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship semifinal round. The fourth-seeded Irish face a formidable test on Wednesday, taking on No. 1 Wake Forest at 7 p.m. (ET) inside Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The match will be carried live on ESPN3.
No. 9 Notre Dame (10-3-5, 4-2-2 ACC) advanced through to the conference final four with a 1-0 ACC quarterfinal victory over Virginia last Sunday at Alumni Stadium. Brandon Aubrey earned the game-winning goal in that contest, scoring in the 87th minute to send the Irish on for a return trip to Wake Forest (15-1-2, 6-0-2 ACC).
After Notre Dame claimed an early 1-0 lead, Wake Forest struck with two goals in the final 40 minutes to stun the Irish 2-1 in a regular season meeting between the teams on Oct. 23 at Spry Stadium. Jon Bakero connected on the match-winner in the 87th minute of a victory that ultimately vaulted the Demon Deacons to the nation’s top ranking.
Scouting Wake Forest
Wake Forest enters Wednesday’s match with a 15-1-2 record as the top seed in the ACC Championship, advancing to the semifinal round after defeating Louisville 2-1 in overtime on Sunday. The Demon Deacons have posted an 11-1-1 record this season at Spry Stadium, dropping a 1-0 decision to Elon on Sept. 15 for its only setback thus far of 2015. Wake Forest and Clemson also battled to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 26 in Winston-Salem.
Freshman Jack Harrison leads all Wake Forest players with eight goals and 11 assists (27 points), while sophomore Jon Bakero has contributed seven goals and six assists for his 20 points.
Head coach Bobby Muuss is in his first season at the helm of the Wake Forest program after spending the previous eight years at Denver. Muuss has an all-time record of 89-57-26 (.593) in nine seasons as a head coach.
Aubrey The Latest Hero For ND
Brandon Aubrey connected on his first game-winning goal of 2015 in the 87th minute of Sunday’s 1-0 ACC Championship quarterfinal victory over Virginia. Aubrey was the eighth different Irish player to score a match-winner this season, and was the fourth different Notre Dame defender to tally a clinching goal in 2015.
Aubrey, Jeffrey Farina, Jon Gallagher (2), Matt Habrowski, Max Lachowecki (2), Evan Panken, Michael Shipp, and Thomas Ueland have each found game-winning goals for the Notre Dame attack thus far this season.
He Who Has The Most Shots…
Sunday’s ACC quarterfinal match against Virginia was the 11th contest in 18 starts this season in which Notre Dame has finished with the edge in total shots on the scoreboard. The Irish are 8-1-2 (.818) when controlling the shot count in 2015.
Notable results earned when Notre Dame has been outshot included a 1-0 win in double overtime at Indiana (Aug. 30), and a 1-1 draw at North Carolina State (Oct. 4).
ND Against the Carolinas
Wednesday’s game against Wake Forest will be the sixth matchup for Notre Dame this season against a team residing in either North or South Carolina. The Irish own wins over Clemson (1-0, Sept. 12) and Duke (3-2 in OT, Oct. 10) earlier in 2015.
Hodan Finding His Form
2014 ACC Offensive Player of the Year Patrick Hodan has settled into an attacking groove against conference opponents, notching two of his three goals and adding five of his six assists in nine starts against ACC foes.
Hodan has served corner kick goals to teammate Brandon Aubrey in consecutive weeks against Pittsburgh (W, 5-0 on Oct. 31) and Virginia (W, 1-0 on Nov. 8), establishing a career-high assist count for a single season in the past two weeks. Hodan’s 12 total points (three goals, six assists) through 18 matches rank second on the Notre Dame roster.
Irish Against #1
Wednesday’s showdown at Wake Forest is expected to be Notre Dame’s first game against the top ranked team in the nation since the Irish played North Carolina to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 8, 2013.
Dating back to the 1994 season, Notre Dame has earned four results over the then national No. 1 team: a 2-1 win over UCLA on Aug. 31, 2007, a 3-3 draw with Connecticut on Oct. 13, 2007, a 0-0 draw with Connecticut on Oct. 8, 2011, and the aforementioned tie with North Carolina in 2013.
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.