Nov. 8, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - It didn't take the Notre Dame men's soccer team long to make an impact in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The top-ranked Fighting Irish defeated Pittsburgh, 2-0, Friday evening at Alumni Stadium to lock up a share of the ACC regular-season title in just their first season in the league. Notre Dame finished tied with Maryland atop the conference standings.
The Fighting Irish (11-1-5, 7-1-3) now will shift their focus to the postseason. Notre Dame is the No. 2 seed for the ACC Championship and will play host to Duke on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The match is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium and it can be seen live and for free on WatchND.tv. Notre Dame defeated Duke, 3-1, on Sept. 27 at Alumni Stadium.
"The ACC is the best league in the country and winning it is a terrific accomplishment," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. "The team should be proud. This is a great start. We always talk about the treble and that is winning the league, the conference tournament and then the NCAA tournament. This is our first step towards the treble."
Notre Dame controlled the majority of Friday's matchup against Pittsburgh. The Irish held a 13-1 advantage in shots on goal and they also earned 14 corner kicks compared to just one for the Panthers (1-11-4, 0-9-2).
The Fighting Irish sent shot after shot on frame in the opening half, yet Pittsburgh goalkeeper Dan Lynd held his own and kept the Irish off the board in the early stages of the stanza. Notre Dame forward Harrison Shipp had a shot hit off the far post in the 12th minute and then he nearly scored three minutes later when he tried to chip the ball over Lynd, but the Panther goalie jumped to make the save.
Pittsburgh registered its only shot on goal of the game in the 34th minute when Romeo Charron sent his ball to the near post and Irish goalkeeper Patrick Wall made a diving save. That was the only stop Wall would need to pick up his seventh shutout of the season.
Notre Dame continued to attack the Panthers and it paid off in the 38th minute when Shipp was brought down in the box and he converted the penalty kick. It was the team-best eighth goal of the season for the senior forward. The Irish led 1-0 at halftime.
"We were consistently pressuring them the whole half," Shipp said. "We did a great job of getting the ball out wide to our outside backs Luke Mishu and Max Lachowecki. Those guys kept creating chance after chance by getting the ball into the box and we were a little unlucky with shots that went wide or were saved. We were persistent and it was key getting a goal before halftime."
The Irish continued to look dangerous in the second half as they pursued a second goal that would put the game away. In the 55th minute, Robby Gallegos played the ball ahead to Leon Brown and the senior forward was one-on-one with Lynd and placed the ball high of the frame. Irish forward Vince Cicciarelli sent a header just wide of the near post in the 73rd minute.
Cicciarelli wouldn't be denied in the 81st minute when he received a pass from Brown and buried his shot into the upper netting from six yards away. The junior forward has five goals this season and he's scored in each of the last three games.
"We had patience and persistence tonight," Clark said. "I thought we had a lot of the ball and we moved the ball very well. Because of some good goalkeeping from Pittsburgh the goals took a little while to come. It was a nice relief to get the second goal. There was some emotion and a little bit of anxiety. Although we dominated play, until we got the second goal there was always a chance they could maybe get something on the counterattack."
The men's soccer team is the first Notre Dame program to capture an ACC title. This is the sixth regular-season conference championship in program history. Notre Dame won three regular-season BIG EAST titles under Clark (2004, 2007, 2008) and the Irish also captured two Midwestern Collegiate Conference championships (1989, 1993).
November 8, 2013
Pittsburgh (1-11-4, 0-9-2) 0 0 - 0
Shots: UP 3-4 - 7, ND 17-15 - 32
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director