Nov. 4, 2016
by Tony Jones
2016 NOTRE DAME MEN'S SOCCER – Match 19
#16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-2) vs. #2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-2-3)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A berth into the semifinal round of the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship rests in the balance on Sunday when the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team travels to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to face Wake Forest. The 1 p.m. (ET) match between the seventh-seeded Irish and the second-seeded Demon Deacons will air live on ACC Network Extra from Spry Stadium.
No. 16 Notre Dame (11-5-2) is in search of its fourth consecutive semifinal appearance in the ACC tournament following a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 3 against Duke in first round play. The Irish downed No. 2 Wake Forest (12-2-3) by a 1-0 score last November, when the Demon Deacons were the top ranked team in NCAA Division I soccer, to reach the championship match of the tournament for the first time as a conference member.
“We’ve got an extremely fit team, so we will be fine come Sunday,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said following Thursday’s first round win over Duke. “That is one thing about an afternoon game, you have time to regenerate as opposed to waiting until the next day after a night game. We fly out Friday night, so you have to move on (to the next round).”
Notre Dame and Wake Forest previously battled to a 2-2 draw during regular season ACC action on Oct. 8 at Alumni Stadium, a result which has kick started a six-match unbeaten streak for the Demon Deacons. The Irish are the only opposing team to score multiple goals during any of Wake Forest’s 17 starts this season.
Irish Over Duke In ACC 1st Rd OT Thriller
A stellar passing sequence during the 100th minute for Notre Dame left little doubt for the Irish attack. Top conference goal scorer Jon Gallagher found his 12th of the year with under a minute remaining in the first overtime period, lifting the Irish to a 3-2 win over Duke on Nov. 3 in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship at Alumni Stadium.
Thursday’s match was shifted from its originally scheduled start on Wednesday night due to inclement weather. No. 16 Notre Dame, the tournament’s seventh seed, advanced to the ACC quarterfinal round on Sunday at Wake Forest.
The Irish finished the first round contest by outshooting Duke 16-7, including a 12-5 margin over the second half and overtime. The extra time triumph for Notre Dame avenged an earlier 2-1 loss to the Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina, on Oct. 21 in ACC play.
Irish Remain Strong At Home In ACC Tourney
Notre Dame improved to 4-1 in home ACC Championship matches since joining the conference prior to the 2013 season with its 3-2 overtime triumph against Duke on Nov. 3.
The Irish blanked Duke 1-0 in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 ACC Championship on Nov. 12 of that year in the program’s inaugural postseason match as a league member. Notre Dame has also added a pair of shutout wins over Virginia (3-0 in 2014, 1-0 in 2015) to go along with the Duke victory, with its only home conference tournament setback at the hands of No. 13 Syracuse (1-0) in the 2015 ACC Championship final.
Prior ND ACC Tourney Runs
Notre Dame is attempting to reach the semifinal round or beyond in the ACC Championship for the fourth time in as many seasons as a conference member in 2016. The Irish made a pair of ACC tournament semifinal appearances in both 2013 and 2014 before hosting the championship final in 2015 at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame has enjoyed prior success against Wake Forest in postseason play, posting a combined 2-1 mark split between NCAA and ACC tournament matches against the Demon Deacons since 2007.
Aubrey Atop TDS Midseason Top 100
Notre Dame center back Brandon Aubrey was recognized by TopDrawerSoccer as its the top rated player nationally in its annual midseason top 100 list that was released on Oct. 18. Aubrey, who ranks second on the Irish roster in both goals (9) and points (19), remains one of the leading scorers in the ACC from his central defense post, and has helped guide Notre Dame to eight team shutouts this season.
Striker Jon Gallagher, among the ACC and NCAA Division I leaders in scoring, checked in as the 17th ranked player in the top 100 midway through his junior campaign. Gallagher’s 12 goals and 31 points have led the ACC for the majority of the season, and both totals remain among the top 10 of all Division I players in 2016.
Goalkeeper Chris Hubbard rounded out the Notre Dame players included in the TDS Top 100 at the midway point, placing 31st in the rankings. Hubbard’s 0.69 goals against average, .800 save percentage and eight solo shutouts all rank among the upper echelon of ACC keepers this season.
Earlier in October, midfielder Tommy McCabe was tabbed the number two freshman in the midseason TopDrawerSoccer Top 100 Freshmen list. McCabe has started all 18 Notre Dame matches during his rookie campaign, logging his first career assist against Duke on Nov. 3 and playing a key role in the eight Irish clean sheets thus far in 2016.
Scouting Wake Forest
Wake Forest enters Sunday’s quarterfinal match in the ACC Championship with a 12-2-3 record, and has ridden a six-match unbeaten streak to the No. 2 overall seed since splitting a 2-2 decision with Notre Dame on Oct. 8 at Alumni Stadium. The Irish are the only team to score multiple goals against the Demon Deacons thus far in 2016.
Jacori Hayes leads all Wake Forest attackers with five goals and 12 points through 17 starts, while Jon Bakero has chipped in four goals and two assists for his 10 points. Bakero connected with Hayes for the tying goal in the 67th minute of the October matchup between the Irish and Demon Deacons.
Alec Ferrell has been stellar in the Wake Forest goal, posting an 8-1-3 record in 12 match appearances for the Demon Deacons. Ferrell ranks among the top two ACC keepers in goals against average (.047, second) and save percentage (.864, first).
Head coach Bobby Muuss is 29-5-5 (.808) in his second season, leading Wake Forest to the NCAA Quarterfinals as the national No. 1 seed in 2015 after Notre Dame bounced the Demon Deacons from the semifinals of the ACC Championship.
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.