BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The No. 24 Notre Dame (1-0-1) men’s soccer team turned in a complete performance in a commanding 3-0 victory over No. 18 UConn (2-1-0). The result marks the first win of first-year head coach Chad Riley’s Notre Dame tenure.
In the winning effort, the Irish posted their first clean sheet of the season. Senior goalkeeper Ryan Krutz recorded the first victory and shutout of his Notre Dame career on Friday evening.
The three goals were scored by senior midfielder Blake Townes (32nd minute), sophomore defender Aiden McFadden (60th minute) and senior defender Patrick Berneski (67th minute).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish controlled the first half from the opening touch, creating six shots before UConn even mustered one in the contest. In the 32nd minute Townes buried his first goal of the season on a breakaway to open his 2018 account, capitalizing on a UConn turnover and unleashing a low shot from 15 yards out to give Notre Dame the early 1-0 advantage.
The Irish carried the one-goal lead into the halftime intermission. In the first 45 minutes of play Notre Dame outshot UConn 6-2, including 3-1 on frame. Krutz made his first save of the evening just before the end of the first frame to keep the Huskies off the board.
Notre Dame carried its excellent form from the first frame into the second, continuing to put pressure on the UConn back line. Just under 15 minutes into the second stanza the Irish doubled their lead. Freshman Mohamed Omar played senior Sean MacLeod down the flank, who found McFadden in the box. The sophomore buried his shot into the left bottom corner of the goal for the first goal of his career.
Not even eight minutes passed before the Irish once again found the back of the net. After earning a corner, junior Tommy McCabe whipped in a ball to the edge of the six-yard box and connected with the head of Berneski, who nodded it home to push the lead to 3-0.
The Irish completed the shutout, earning Krutz the first clean sheet of his career, as Notre Dame won by a final score of 3-0.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Berneski turned in a 90-minute masterclass defensive shift in the victory. The skipper led a Notre Dame backline that stifled the UConn attack for the entire evening, allowing just four total shots (one on target). The senior defender was clinical on the offensive end as well, scoring a header on his only shot of the night to score his second goal in as many outings.
“I think Patrick Berneski turned in a real captain’s performance for us tonight,” said Riley. “He did a great job of leading the backline against a really good UConn team and scored a goal to complete his evening.”
STAT OF THE MATCH
The 3-0 victory over UConn was the biggest win over the Huskies in series history. The Irish had defeated UConn by scores of 2-0 in back-to-back outing in 2003 and 2004 and 3-1 during the 2002 campaign but had never won by three goals until Friday evening.
HEAD COACH CHAD RILEY’S TAKE
“I am very proud of the team. It was a good performance against a very good UConn team, who I know will have a fantastic season. I am the most proud of the growth we displayed from our last match to this one. Now we will recover and prepare for Sunday.”
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish leveled the all-time series with the Huskies, moving their record to 11-11-4.
- Notre Dame has now won each of the last four matches against UConn.
- The Irish have not allowed the Huskies to score a goal in the last 380 minutes of play (four straight clean sheets).
- The victory gives first-year head coach Chad Riley the first win of his Notre Dame coaching career.
- Berneski has scored in each of the first two matches, marking the first time he has scored in back-to-back matches in his career.
- Townes scored his first goal of the season and fourth of his career.
- McFadden’s goal was the first of his Notre Dame career.
- Krutz earns his first career win at the goalkeeper position.
- McCabe notched his first assist of the season and now has three in his career.
- MacLeod recorded the second assist of his career in the victory.
- Omar recorded his first point of his collegiate career, picking up an assist on McFadden’s goal.
The Irish have a quick turnaround following the win, as they face No. 22 Dartmouth at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday in Bloomington. The matchup will pit Riley against his former squad.