Sept. 20, 2013
#1 NOTRE DAME (3-0-2, 1-0-1)
BOSTON COLLEGE (2-2-1, 1-1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 21 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Newton Campus Field – Newton, Mass.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – By the time the Notre Dame men’s soccer team takes to the pitch Saturday evening at Boston College it will have been nearly two weeks since the Fighting Irish surrendered a goal. The stingy defense is a key reason why the Irish are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation.
The Fighting Irish (3-0-2, 1-0-1) will put their scoreless streak of 272:27 on the line when they face the Eagles in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash that is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Newton Campus Field in Newton, Mass. The Irish are aiming for their first three-game shutout streak since 2008.
Notre Dame is coming off back-to-back 3-0 victories against Syracuse and Michigan and the last goal surrendered by the Irish occurred in the 18th minute of a 1-1 draw against North Carolina on Sept. 8. In fact, that was just the second goal allowed all season long by the Irish. Senior Patrick Wall has played every minute in goal this season and boasts a 0.37 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage to go with three clean sheets.
Wall is quick to credit his backline, which returned all four starters from last season. The Fighting Irish are 16-1-2 over the past two seasons when central defenders Grant Van De Casteele and Andrew O’Malley along with fullbacks Luke Mishu and Max Lachowecki comprise the starting back four of the defense.
“Having great guys like Max Lachowecki, Andrew O’Malley, Grant Van De Casteele and Luke Mishu in front of me makes my job so much easier,” Wall said. “Those guys deserve all the credit for us only giving up two goals so far this season.”
But it’s not just the backline and goalkeeper that are responsible for the goose eggs on the scoreboard.
“The key so far this season is that we’ve been defending as a team,” Van De Casteele, a fifth-year senior, said. “We’ve been getting everybody involved and that includes the back four, obviously, and the goalie, but it also involves the midfielders and the forwards. There’s been a very concerted and focused effort on defense. We worked a lot on defensive shape and moving as a unit during the preseason. It’s nice to see that’s panned out and that things are going well.
“A lot of it is determination and work ethic. Guys have been stepping up and working for one another instead of just working for themselves. It also involves a little bit of luck. I think a couple teams have hit the post on us.”
Since last allowing a goal, Notre Dame has produced seven of its own. After missing on some chances in the first few matches of the season, the Irish offense is starting to find the back of the net. Notre Dame’s nine goals have come from five different players and the Irish will need to continue the offense production in order to capture another key conference win on the road.
“This is a huge game for us and it’ll be a tough game,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “We don’t have an easy game on our schedule and going to Boston College is a big task, but I think it’s one that this team can handle. We’ll have to be playing well on almost all cylinders if we’re going to come out with a good result. It’ll take a lot of effort and a lot of focus and people will have to play up to their potential.”
Boston College (2-2-1, 1-1-0) is coming off a 2-1 ACC win at Pittsburgh after opening league play with a 2-0 setback to Wake Forest. The Eagles are averaging 1.6 goals per game, while allowing 1.8 per match. Cole DeNormandie (Jr./F) and Chris Ager (Sr./D) both have a team-high two goals, while junior Keady Segel has a 2-1-1 record in goal with a 1.39 goals-against average and a .455 save percentage.
Saturday will be the first meeting between the Irish and Eagles since 2004 when the two programs were BIG EAST rivals. Notre Dame won that match 1-0 in overtime at old Alumni Field and that upped its advantage in the series to 7-3-0. This will be the program’s first trip to Beantown since 2002 (a 1-0 Irish win). The Fighting Irish are 2-2-0 all-time at Boston College.
While the current Irish squad will bring their own scoreless streak into Saturday, as a program Notre Dame has not lost a goal to Boston College in the last 280:51. The Fighting Irish have blanked the Eagles in each of the last three showdowns (2001, 2002, 2004), all Notre Dame victories.
The Irish will look to keep all the streaks – both young and old – alive as they renew acquaintances with the Eagles.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director