NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team opened the season Friday evening with a 1-1 draw against Saint Louis at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish looked poised to win the opener but a last-gasp free kick from midfield flicked on in the box and into the goal with just 16 ticks left on the clock in regulation let the Billikens escape with the tie.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish started the match on the front foot, owning the majority of the possession early which resulted in two corners in the first 10 minutes. The Billikens slowly found their way into the match and had the first real look at goal when Leo Novaes fired a shot from the middle of the box forcing Notre Dame goalkeeper Ryan Krutz into his first save of the season.
Neither side was able to create many scoring chances in the final third during the first 45 minutes, as the two sides combined for just five shots and the score line remained goalless heading into the halftime break.
Notre Dame found the breakthrough goal it was searching for in the 63rd minute to put the Irish on top 1-0. The Irish earned a free kick in a dangerous position and Felicien Dumas whipped in a perfect cross to an unmarked Patrick Berneski at the far post for a tap in to give Notre Dame the lead.
Thirteen minutes later the Irish nearly doubled their lead, as Aschieris made a run on the right flank and found Blake Townes, whose glancing header just missed the far post. The Billikens responded with a big chance of their own, blasting a shot from right in front of the goal. Notre Dame goalkeeper Ryan Krutz came up with a huge save, tipping the ball over the frame to keep the visitors off the board.
The result appeared to be in hand, as the final seconds ticked down. Saint Louis earned a free kick from midfield in the final minute for their final opportunity. Unfortunately for the Irish, the Billikens’ Chase Niece sent the ball into the box and found the head of Anthony Brown who flicked the ball into the goal to level the score with 16 seconds left and send it to overtime.
No shots were recorded in the first 10-minute overtime session and the Irish nearly won the match in the second stanza. Berneski had a volley off a corner that just missed the target and the Irish had to settle for the 1-1 decision.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Berneski not only scored the Notre Dame goal but also did a good job of commanding the backline throughout the night, as the senior skipper continually snuffed out the Billikens’ goal-scoring chances. The goal was the senior’s third of his career.
The skipper opened his 2018 account in the opener! Hear what Patrick Berneski had to say about his performance. pic.twitter.com/7wgaReSl24
— ND Men’s Soccer (@NDMenSoccer) August 25, 2018
STAT OF THE MATCH
Set pieces proved to be the most dangerous form of attack on Friday evening, as both goals were produced from free kicks. The Irish took six corners to Saint Louis’ four over the 110 minutes of play.
HEAD COACH CHAD RILEY’S TAKE
On the opener…
“I think Saint Louis did a good job overall. Anytime a team disrupts what you are trying to do you have to credit your opponent. They went a little bit more direct in the second half which is a challenge to any team. I think for the most part we stood up to it well.
“We would like to have handled their tying goal better. After we got our goal they opened up a little bit more and I thought we made some really good chances that we didn’t capitalize on. I think we are most disappointed that we weren’t able to get that second goal.
“At the end of the day I am proud of the effort. The team stuck together and their communication was good. There were some good pieces and I think that we are going to expect a better performance after every game.”
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish move to 25-9-8 in season openers in program history.
- With the draw, Notre Dame is now 30-8-4 in home openers.
- The match was the first regular-season contest for head coach Chad Riley, who also played for the Irish from the 2000-2003 seasons.
- The goal was Berneski’s third of his career.
- Dumas now has nine assists in his Notre Dame career.
- Ryan Krutz made his first start in goal in his Irish career and recorded a personal best four saves.
- Mohamed Omar, Jack Lynn, Aiden McFadden, Simon Roennecke and Paul Rothrock each made their Notre Dame debuts on Friday evening.
The Irish travel to Bloomington, Indiana, next weekend for a tournament. Notre Dame plays UCONN at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 31 and then takes on Dartmouth at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 2.
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