Sept. 22, 2017
by Tony Jones
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Despite chasing control for large portions of the game, Virginia Tech found goals when it needed it most. Marcelo Acuna scored in the seventh minute before adding the game-winner against the run of play in the 71st minute as the Hokies defeated the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team 2-1 on Friday night at Thompson Field.
Virginia Tech (4-4-0, 1-2-0 ACC) took an early lead on a lob to the front of the net that found the breaking Acuna free, and a volley into the back of the Notre Dame (6-1-0, 2-1-0 ACC) frame put the hosts ahead 1-0.
Following a Virginia Tech shot with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half, the Hokies would not find solid ground in the offensive third for over 30 minutes of game action stretching deep into the second period. Notre Dame began the comeback trail in the interim. Shots for Jeff Farina in the 31st minute, a free kick for Jon Gallagher in the 37th minute and a one-timer for Gallagher in the 39th minute all went begging, allowing Virginia Tech to take its 1-0 lead to halftime.
With Notre Dame once more on the front foot out of the locker room, Gallagher drew the Irish level in the 50th minute. A nifty through ball from Farina found Gallagher on the break toward the Virginia Tech goal, and a flick past Hokies goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard tied the game at 1-1 at 49:55.
Notre Dame continued to have quality of play as Jack Casey ripped three solid shots toward the Virginia Tech frame, the last of which was saved by Lundgaard in the 67th minute. The Irish came away from the surge with the game still tied at 1-1.
Against the flow of action, and entering the Notre Dame third for the first real opportunity of the second half, Acuna buried a strike from outside the 18-yard box into the left corner of the net. His second goal of the night, in the 71st minute, pushed Virginia Tech ahead 2-1.
Looking for the second equalizer, Notre Dame pressed dangerously into the Virginia Tech defensive third over the final 20 minutes. Key saves from Chris Hubbard in the Irish goal at the other end kept the score line at 2-1 in favor of Virginia Tech, but the Irish surge was quelled. A straight red card issued to Patrick Berneski in the final minute of play left Notre Dame with 10 men and allowed Virginia Tech to run out the clock.
Play of the Game
Jon Gallagher scored for the fourth straight game, finding the tying goal for Notre Dame in the 50th minute. Jeff Farina sprung his forward counterpart through the Virginia Tech defense and Gallagher slotted his team-leading sixth goal of the year home to tie the game at 1-1.
Notre Dame settled into the match following the opening goal from Virginia Tech’s Marcelo Acuna in the seventh minute. The Irish controlled play for the majority of the final 80-plus minutes, countered by Acuna’s second goal of the night in the 71st minute.
Note of the Game
Notre Dame was most dangerous in virtually every phase of the game for large stretches of play, finishing the contest with a 23-10 edge in shots and an 11-7 count in shots on goal. The Irish added a 7-6 margin in corner kicks, which only leveled after Virginia Tech gained offensive momentum late in the second half.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.