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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame men's soccer downs Oberlin 6-0, pushes win streak to four

Notre Dame men’s soccer picked up their fourth consecutive win Tuesday night, thrashing Oberlin 6-0.

The lopsided final score perhaps wasn’t even reflective of the Irish dominance on the stat sheet. Notre Dame outshot the Yeomen 32-2. They racked up 17 shots on goal, while holding Oberlin to just one.

It took the Irish 20 minutes to get on the scoresheet, though. Notre Dame took seven shots before finding the back of the net, with Michael Rossi deftly redirecting a shot from Matthew Roou home. The Irish would keep up the pressure afterwards, and a little over 10 minutes later would strike home again. Matthew Radivojsa fed a pass to Eno Nto in front of goal, and the junior forward slotted in his fifth goal of the season.

Notre Dame would get their final goal of the half just two minutes later. Radivojsa charged into the box but absorbed a hard challenge in the process. The referee pointed to the spot, and senior Matthew McLaughlin stepped up and fired a penalty kick into the bottom left corner to add on to the Irish lead.

The goal was the first of McLaughlin’s Irish career, with the senior midfielder serving as team captain on the day with usual skippers Paddy Burns and Ethan O’Brien off the field.

“It was a lot of fun. It was my first start too, which was pretty special,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve been saying all week that if we get a [penalty kick] today I have to be the one to take it. And luckily [Daniel] Russo was on the field but he was kind enough to give it to me so thanks to Russo for that.”

The goals kept coming in the second half. A Yeoman clearance only made it as far as Nicholas Legendre, and the sophomore volleyed home his first goal of the season.

The final two tallies of the day for the Irish came just 15 seconds apart. A Wyatt Borso cross created a chaotic scramble in front of the Oberlin goal, and, eventually, a touch by Mateo Acosta put the ball in the path of Alex Salvino, who fired it over the goalline. Almost immediately after the restart, Sean McDown leaped in front of a Yeoman pass out of the back, pushed the ball forward to Legendre, and the sophomore found Nate Zimmerman who cooly finished Notre Dame’s sixth and final goal.

Twenty-one of Notre Dame’s 30 outfield players saw minutes in the win, the most the Irish have used in any game this season. Sophomore Owen Cornell earned his first career start at goalkeeper, replacing usual starting netminder Bryan Dowd. Cornell made one save to earn his first career clean sheet and victory.

Looking ahead, the Irish will now face the final stretch of their season, which will likely be the most difficult. On Friday the team will head on the road to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech, an away trip Notre Dame hasn’t left with a win since 2013. They’ll then follow that match with a contest on the road against Michigan, a rivalry fixture that has developed quite a knack for physicality (the last four matches have averaged just over 27 fouls per game). The three-game road swing will conclude with a trip to North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who currently rank as the No. 4 team in the country.

The Irish will have plenty of motivation entering this upcoming stretch of away matches. Notre Dame currently holds first-place status in the ACC standings. If the Irish can hold on to their current standing, they’ll have a chance to earn a title at home on the season’s final day against Pittsburgh.

After the game, head coach Chad Riley discussed keeping his team focused despite the season’s stakes heading down the stretch:

“I think the big thing is the guys have been through it,” Riley said. “So they understand that any of these things, you really have to take it a day at a time, a moment at a time. I think they totally understand that, and I think they apply that. That’s the way you handle these stretches where you have good, positive pressure on you.”

Notre Dame men’s soccer will be back in action Friday when they take on Virginia Tech in an ACC showdown. The match is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.