NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team finished their preseason play against Valparaiso Monday evening, earning a 3-1 victory. After a series of shots early, the Irish found the back of the net first, going up 1-0 in the 14th minute of play. Carrying a 1-1 tie into the half, the final 45 minutes were all Irish as the team posted two more goals to finish 3-1.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish dominated the start, putting pressure on the Crusader backline and earning two corners in the opening minutes. Senior forward, Ian Aschieris saw the first close call of the match, stripping the ball from a Valparaiso defender and firing a shot into the arms of Miras.
Shortly after, a quick series of passes from the Irish through the midfield found Aschieris on the right flank. The senior whipped a cross to Sean MacLeod who nodded the pass into the back of the Crusaders’ net, at 13:45 of the match to put the Irish on top 1-0.
Thirteen minutes later Valparaiso responded with a goal to level the friendly at one. After the initial shot ricocheted off the crossbar, the Crusaders’ Aidan Garcia picked up the rebound and shot the ball into the open net.
In the last two minutes of the opening frame, both teams recorded incredible saves, with defenders jumping in and narrowly clearing the ball off the line to keep it tied at one.
The game remained tied until the 57th minute. After earning a free kick in a dangerous position, sophomore Paul Rothrock was hauled down the box to earn a penalty kick. Senior Felicien Dumas converted from the spot for what proved to be the game winner, giving the Irish the 2-1 lead.
The team peppered the Crusaders’ net for the remainder of the game but came up empty in the final third until Aschieris found the back of the goal with less than two minutes remaining, making the final score to 3-1.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Thomas Ueland put in an excellent shift in the Irish midfield. The senior’s workrate impressed head coach Chad Riley.
“His performance was a great moment of a senior coming back in during the second half and working very hard. He is a little bit quiet but is very intense and I think a lot his communication is his work but then you hear him and I thought he did a great job of giving us a boost when he reentered the game.”
STAT OF THE MATCH
With a three-point outing against the Crusaders, senior Ian Aschieris earned the Stat of the Match. He assisted on Sean MacLeod’s goal to start the scoring and recorded the final goal of the match, beating Valparaiso’s goalkeeper in the 88th minute.
HEAD COACH CHAD RILEY’S TAKE
On the overall performance of the team…
“I think this was our best performance in our three exhibitions against probably our best opponent. There were some ragged moments but we have only been together since August 8 so that is to be expected from both teams. There will be moments this season when we are on top of teams and creating chances but everyone on our schedule is good enough to make chances so we are going to have to be better defensively when the other team has a spell of possession.”
On the play of the team in the final 20 minutes…
Every game on our schedule is going to be tight unless you score goals. It is going to come down to the time between the 70th and 90th minutes who is the team that has the mental fortitude and is physically prepared. Our strength coach Jordan Webb does a great job with that aspect. I was really proud of how we finished the game.
NOTES OF THE MATCH
- The Irish improve to 15-0-4 in exhibition matches since the start of the 2017 season, going 3-0 in friendlies in 2018.
- Playing all 90 minutes, Aschieris led the team in shots, firing four at the net.
- The second half weighed heavily in Notre Dame’s favor, as the Irish outshot the Crusaders 7-3.
- 17 Irish players saw action in the match, including three freshmen.
The Irish open the season against Saint Louis at Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 24.