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Notre Dame To Play For No. 1 Sunday

The Notre Dame men’s soccer team must have felt right at home Friday night in the College Cup held at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Playing in frigid 15-degree weather, Notre Dame (16-1-6) defeated the New Mexico Lobos (14-6-2), 2-0, with both goals coming from sophomore midfielder and Academic All-American Patrick Hodan. Meanwhile, the Irish defense, led by junior Nick Besler, recorded its 11th shutout of the year, with senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall making five saves.

ACC Offensive Player Of The Year Harrison Shipp (10) and Patrick Hodan, who scored both goals Friday, celebrate after a score against New Mexico. Photo courtesy Tony Quinn.

A week earlier against Michigan State, Notre Dame played in similar arctic-like conditions at home in a 2-1 win to advance to its first College Cup.

Head coach Bobby Clark’s Fighting Irish will play Maryland in the NCAA Championship Sunday afternoon. The all-ACC final will be telecast 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Maryland defeated Virginia, 2-1, in the second semifinal. Virginia was the lone team to defeat Notre Dame this season, while the Terps and Irish played to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 8 at Notre Dame.

The Irish tallied their first goal seven minutes into the contest when senior Harrison Shipp, the ACC Offensive Player of The Year, picked off a Lobos pass, navigated skillfully through traffic and dropped off a pass to Hodan crossing the middle near the goal. Hodan evaded the defense and knocked a left-footed shot into the corner.

In the second half and 65th minute of the 90-minute game, Irish junior Vince Cicciarelli attacked the goal and had a shot hit the crossbar. The carom fell back to a running Hodan, who headed the ball into the net for the 2-0 final margin. It was the 11th goal of the year for Hodan, who has scored at least one in six straight games.

“It’s really been a team effort,” Hodan told ESPNU. “We’ve really done better at moving the ball, transitioning under pressure.”

The No 3-seed Irish, who were the top seed last year before losing to eventual national champ Indiana in the round of 16, have peaked in NCAA play this year, outscoring the opposition 12-3 in their four victories. Maryland is the fifth seed, while Virginia was No. 8.

Photos of game action courtesy of Tony Quinn.

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