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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Irish ousted from ACC Tournament after late-game goal from Louisville

No. 18 Notre Dame lost 1-0 at No. 15 Louisville on Sunday afternoon in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. The Cardinals (9-4-3, 4-2-2 ACC) delivered a dagger in the 86th minute to extinguish the hopes of the Irish (10-6-2, 4-3-1 ACC) of winning the conference title.

The Irish got a chance to get on the scoresheet in the 23rd minute of the game after senior defender Felicien Dumas crossed the ball inside the 6-yard box. Junior midfielder Jack Casey connected with the cross but his shot missed.

Connery McFadden | The Observer
Irish freshman forward Jack Lynn protects the ball against his defender during Notre Dame's 2-1 loss to Indiana at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 11.

The teams returned to the sideline for the break as the 20th matchup between the teams remained scoreless. Despite the lack of goals however, the Irish continued their dominant defensive presence, having shutout opponents in the first half of 17 of the last 18 games of the season.

Irish head coach Chad Riley was please with his team's willingness to compete every time around.

“I think it just says a lot about the leadership and mentality of the team, that they’re ready to come out and compete right away,” Riley said. ”Soccer typically opens up a little bit more after the 60, 65th minute, that’s where the mistakes start happening and a lot of goals get scored. But, we’re proud to shut teams down in the first half and it makes it a 45 minute game to win it.”

In the second half, Notre Dame pushed forward to try and break the draw. In the 58th minute, senior forward Thomas Ueland fired a strike from the left side of the box, but missed wide by mere inches. Moments later in the 65th minute, senior forward Ian Aschieris would draw a foul in the attacking third of the field. Notre Dame’s senior forward Sean MacLeod took the free kick and hit the post, almost scoring the game’s opening goal.

The Cardinals would finally break open the game in the 86th minute off a counter-attack down that was capped off with a header from Louisville senior forward Tate Schmitt. The hosts would take the lead and hold on in the waning moments of the game to book their ticket to the ACC Tournament semifinals.

Riley noted the team was disappointed with the result given the Irish had many chances to score. Nevertheless, he is proud of the team’s recent performances.

“We’re very disappointed in the result, I thought we were unfortunate,“ Riley said. ”For the most part, we created some really quality chances that we weren’t able to capitalize on. We really limited [Louisville] to one good chance that they were able to capitalize on.”

This loss was indicative of how much of the season has gone — last minute losses against one of the hardest schedules in the country.

“For the most part I’m very proud of the group. I think we’re all very disappointed by the result but, [I’m] proud of their performance especially, in the amount of games that we’ve played over the last three weeks,” Riley said. ”We’ll make use of this time [without games] but, it’ll certainly hurt for a couple of days not to be moving on in the ACC Tournament.”

Riley said following a tough loss like the one they suffered to the Cardinals, it is important for team leaders to prove why they’re leaders.

“I think it’s important to kind of absorb — you want to remember that feeling of losing. We know we’re right there with everybody that’s got a chance to win a national championship and we’re a very committed group as we chase that goal now. The seniors do a good job of reassuring the younger guys and picking them up and getting them refocused,” Riley said. “I’m sure [the seniors] will be doing that over the next couple of days.”

As the Irish now await the NCAA Championship, they will not know who they will compete against until Nov. 12, when the selection committee for the NCAA Championship announces the teams in the competition. In the meanwhile, Riley said that the Irish will be in full preparation mode as they aim to be as ready as possible for the NCAA Championship.

“Rest and recovery, these next couple of days. It’s just a good time to sharpen up all phases of the game,“ he said. ”When you’re playing two games every week, things can get a little bit sloppy no matter how much you emphasize it because competing is always different than training.

“We’ll sharpen up all facets of our game, get our legs back. The guys will get a chance to catch up and get ahead on some school work. We’ll be building towards our first NCAA game and just getting as ready as we can for that.”