Sept. 8, 2017
by Tony Jones
NEWTON, Mass. - Stifling defense for the University of Notre Dame men's soccer team kept Boston College in check for much of Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opening game of the 2017 season. Feeding off the defensive intensity, Irish tri-captain Jon Gallagher caught fire on the offensive end. The senior striker tallied his first career collegiate hat trick, including two scores on free kicks, over the final 40 minutes to help lift No. 6 Notre Dame to a 3-1 victory over Boston College at the Newton Soccer Field.
Notre Dame (4-0-0, 1-0-0 ACC) and Boston College (2-3-0, 0-1-0 ACC) finished the contest deadlocked at 11 total shot attempts apiece, but the Irish peppered the Eagles goal all night to a tune of a 9-2 advantage in shots on frame. Notre Dame claimed its third straight result away at Boston College, and has not lost on the Eagles home ground since the 2000 season.
It was nearly a lightning fast start for the visitors out of the gate. Gallagher ripped the first Notre Dame shot of the night, settling the ball near the left post in the third minute. Gallagher's try was kicked to the side and out of danger.
Gallagher gave the Irish their best look of the first half in the 30th minute after Notre Dame earned a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. Gallagher blasted a bending right-footed try toward the left post, but Boston College goalkeeper Antonio Chavez Borrelli sprawled to his right and made a great save to keep the contest scoreless.
It would not take Notre Dame long to gain the upper hand following a 0-0 stalemate after the first half. A yellow card issued to Boston College on a hard foul against Blake Townes at the top left of the 18-yard box put Notre Dame once again in great real estate. Gallagher made the most of this chance, tucking a well-placed shot under the bar in the right of the net for his first goal of the year and the 1-0 Irish lead at 49:04.
A point-blank shot from Jeff Farina nearly made it 2-0 Notre Dame in the 59th minute. A tempting cross dropped on Farina's foot inside Boston College territory, and his one-time connection was snagged by Chavez Borrelli.
Gallagher added to the Notre Dame goal total in the 74th minute. Great passing by the Irish attack, last touched by Jack Casey and then Sean Dedrick up the right flank, allowed Gallagher a free run to the left post. A pinpoint cross from Dedrick was headed home by Gallagher for his second goal of the night at 73:57 to push Notre Dame in front by two.
In the all-out press trying to shift its fortunes, Boston College found its lone goal in the 81st minute. Beto Luna finished a well-taken header on a run into the box to trim the Eagles deficit to one goal (2-1) at 80:34.
Notre Dame needed just one minute to answer and put the contest away. With Boston College still forward for the equalizer, the Irish won a free kick in a similar location to where the first goal was scored earlier in the half. In an almost carbon copy strike, Gallagher placed the ball beautifully into the upper 90 inside the right post for his first career hat trick and the eventual Notre Dame winning margin of 3-1 at 81:35. It was the first hat trick by an Irish player since Brandon Aubrey scored three goals in a 4-1 win over No. 15 Virginia Tech nearly one year ago to the day, Sept. 9, 2016, at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame returns to Alumni Stadium for its 2017 ACC home opener against NC State on Sept. 15. The 7:30 p.m. (ET) game will air live on ACC Network Extra.
Play of the Game
Jon Gallagher struck not once but twice on free kicks, from nearly an identical spot, for the first and third Notre Dame goals of the game. Gallagher converted tries in the 50th and 82nd minute off set pieces, to go along with a 74th minute header, to complete his first hat trick in an Irish uniform.
Blake Townes orchestrated the opening Notre Dame goal sequence thanks to a hard-nosed run down the center of the Boston College defense in the 49th minute. Townes glided toward the Eagles 18-yard box with ease and looked a threat to score before being hauled down by a Boston College defender. One yellow card and successful Notre Dame free kick later, the Irish took a lead they would not relinquish.
Note of the Game
Notre Dame has earned a result in its debut conference game during each of its five seasons as a member of the ACC. The Irish improved to 4-0-1 (.900) in ACC lid-lifters since 2013 with Friday's win at Boston College.
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.