Junior forward Mark Gormley

Keys To The Game: Virginia

Sept. 25, 2015

ND Notes Get Acrobat Reader

#14/12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-2-1, 1-1-0 ACC) vs. #4 Virginia Cavaliers (5-0-2, 1-0-1 ACC)

DATE: Sept. 25, 2015
TIME: 7 p.m. (ET)
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium — cap. 3,500)
LAST MEETING: UVA, 1-0 (11/30/14 at ND)
TICKETS: UND.com/tickets; (574) 631-7356

The last two NCAA men’s soccer national champions are set to meet in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play on Friday, as No. 14/12 Notre Dame welcomes No. 4 Virginia to Alumni Stadium. Friday’s 7 p.m. (ET) match will be available live on ESPN3.

Here are important news and notes leading up to the ACC Coastal Division clash between the Irish and Cavaliers.

Scouting Virginia

Virginia enters Friday’s match against Notre Dame with a 5-0-2 record, keeping its unbeaten record intact with a 1-0 win at VCU on Monday. The Cavaliers have outscored opponents by an aggregate 10-4 goal count, led by the three scores of Jake Rozhansky. Riggs Lennon and Nicko Corriveau have each chipped in two goals and two assists each to tie Rozhansky for the team points lead with six.

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.

“The game we dominated (out of three meetings with Virginia in 2014) was the one that we lost, which was kind of strange,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “Soccer is a funny game in that way. The game we won 3-0 was a close game with a strong wind, and we had the wind in the first half and got two goals. We sat in during the second half and we looked dangerous on the counter, and we got our third goal off that.

“The game we played here in the NCAA tournament, they really became a team that sat in and countered themselves.” Clark said. “They did a really nice job and went on to win a national championship playing that way. We know Virginia is a very good team, and we know it will be a tough game.”

Last Two Champs Set To Square Off

When Notre Dame and Virginia take the field at Alumni Stadium on Friday night, the defending NCAA champion Cavaliers will look to defeat the 2013 national champion Irish on their home field.

Notre Dame also took part in the most recent meeting of the last two NCAA champions, dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision at Indiana Oct. 22, 2014.

In fact, the showdown between Notre Dame and Virginia will mark the third straight time that the last two national championship teams faced one another the following regular season, along with the aforementioned Irish and Hoosiers clash and Indiana against 2011 NCAA title winner North Carolina on Aug. 24, 2013 (a 1-0 Tar Heels win).

“If we want to win the league, as we have the last two years, the first year we played everyone and now they’ve split into two divisions, you have to start winning some games,” Clark said. “The most important thing is that you make the NCAA tournament, and then all the rest is just practice for the tournament. Two out of the last three years the 16th seed going into the tournament won, both Indiana and Virginia, and Virginia was eighth in the ACC. You know it’s going to be a dog eat dog situation in the ACC but having said that, we want to win every game that we play. Looking at the big picture the most important thing is making the tournament, and I don’t take that for granted.”

ND Is Defensively Offensive

With left back/tri-captain Max Lachowecki connecting on the game-winning goal in the second minute of Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Michigan State, the Notre Dame defense continued to make its mark on both sides of the scoresheet thus far in 2015.

Lachowecki’s diving header, his first goal since 2013 and the second fastest by any Notre Dame player since 1995, was the fourth goal scored by an Irish defender this season. Junior center back Brandon Aubrey was first to open his 2015 goal account, connecting on a 58th minute penalty kick in Notre Dame’s 2-0 win over No. 24 South Florida on Sept. 4. Senior right back Michael Shipp tallied his first career goal later that weekend against UAB (Sept. 6), while junior center back Matt Habrowski headed home an Evan Panken corner kick in the 51st minute of a 1-0 win over No. 9 Clemson on Sept. 12.

Along with accounting for four of Notre Dame’s eight different goal scorers thus far this season, the Irish defense has notched six shutouts in eight starts.

Ueland Continues To Impress Early

Freshman midfielder/forward Thomas Ueland made an impactful appearance during his second career collegiate game at Indiana on Aug. 30, scoring the winning goal in double overtime to give Notre Dame its third win over the Hoosiers in its last four trips to Bloomington. Since then, Ueland has continued to impress for the Irish offense as a key reserve striker.

Ueland has played in all eight Notre Dame games in 2015, and scored his second career goal in the 44th minute on Tuesday at Michigan State.

Irish Keep L Streaks To A Minimum

Notre Dame’s 4-0 win at Michigan State on Tuesday halted a two-game losing streak for the Irish. Losing three straight times has become a rarity for the Notre Dame program. In fact, it has happened only once this millennium.

The last time that Notre Dame dropped three straight decisions was Sept. 22-29 of the 2000 season, a pair of 1-0 defeats at the hands of Seton Hall (Sept. 22) and Connecticut (Sept. 24) and a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh (Sept. 29).

— Tony Jones, Athletics Communications Assistant