Nov. 30, 2013
#14 WAKE FOREST (10-5-5)
NCAA Championship Round of 16
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Unfortunately aggregate scoring doesn't apply in college soccer. If so, Notre Dame would enter Sunday's NCAA Championship Round-of-16 match against Wake Forest with a two-goal advantage already in its back pocket.
The third-seeded Fighting Irish (13-1-6) and the No. 14 Demon Deacons (10-5-5) will be squaring off for the second time in less than a month when the two Atlantic Coast Conference foes take to the Alumni Field pitch at 7 p.m. (ET). Notre Dame captured a 3-1 victory at Wake Forest on Nov. 2.
"Wake Forest is without question one of the best teams we've played this year," says Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. "They are a very good soccer-playing team. They have good athletes and it was a terrific game when we played them down at Wake Forest. That also was a very important game because they were a point ahead of us in the league so we had to win that game. A tie really wasn't going to help us. We had to win down there and we did that. This game here is going to be another terrific game because we have to win it. It's very similar to the last game."
All four goals in the first meeting occurred in a span of 31 minutes with the first three coming less than five minutes apart. The Irish went on top in the 36th minute when Evan Panken sent a shot to the back of the net. Wake Forest's Luca Gimenez converted a penalty kick in the 40th minute, but the Irish regained the lead 40 seconds later on a Vince Cicciarelli tally. Notre Dame grabbed some breathing room in the 68th minute when Connor Klekota scored to produce the final result.
While the Fighting Irish offense delivered with three goals, so did their stout defensive unit. Senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall was called upon several times as the Demon Deacons held an 18-13 shot advantage, which was one of just four times the Irish have been outshot all season. Wall made seven saves, including five in the second half.
Sunday will be the sixth time that Notre Dame will face a team in the NCAA tournament that it also met in the regular season. The Irish are 3-2 all-time in the rematch (3-1 under Clark). The Irish had two such instances last year. Notre Dame topped Michigan State both in the regular season (2-0) and in the NCAAs (3-0), while the Irish bested Indiana in the regular season (1-0), but fell in the Round of 16 (2-1 in double-overtime).
"In some ways this could have been a great (NCAA tournament) final," says Clark. "I really respect their team and their coaching staff. They are a first-class outfit. It's going to be a challenge for us and I think our guys are very hungry for this game. We're very conscious this is where we exited last year. In many ways I see Wake being similar to Indiana last year. After the Indiana game we all wanted that game again so here we have that game again. We are in the same position with a similar-type team."
This will be the second time Notre Dame and Wake Forest have clashed in the NCAA tournament. The Demon Deacons captured a 1-0 overtime victory during the 2007 quarterfinals in Winston-Salem and they would go on to win the national title.
The Fighting Irish will get the Demon Deacons on their home pitch this time around. In fact, Wake Forest is making its inaugural trek to South Bend. The Demon Deacons lead the all-time series with the Irish 4-1-1, but none of those matches have taken place at Notre Dame.
The Irish hope their home-field advantage will prove to be great as they look to punch a ticket to the Round of Eight.
To purchase tickets for Sunday's match, visit UND.com/tickets or call the Notre Dame ticket office at 574-631-7356. Tickets will also be available at the Alumni Stadium ticket window on Sunday. Prices are $7 for adults, $3 for youth (21 & younger)/senior citizens (55 and older) and $1 for children between the ages of three and five. All Notre Dame/Saint Mary's/Holy Cross students will get in free with a valid student ID and all Notre Dame faculty/staff will get in free with a valid University ID.
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director