No. 17 Notre Dame fights way to 3-1 ousting of sixth-ranked Akron
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- No. 17 Notre Dame upped its record to 5-0 this season with a 3-1 win against No. 6 Akron on Sunday afternoon at a sunny Alumni Stadium. The win clinched the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament title for the Fighting Irish.
Akron (3-1-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute on a Scott Caldwell goal, which was assisted by Alfred Koroma. That was Notre Dame's first deficit of the season.
The Irish nearly knotted the game in the seventh minute when left back Max Lachowecki's 25-yard blast hit the far post. Notre Dame freshman midfielder Patrick Hodan, who made his first career start Sunday, sent a shot on frame from 17 yards out in the 26th minute, yet Akron goalkeeper David Meves was there for the save.
Akron's Aodhan Quinn was issued a red card in the 30th minute for a rough play on Notre Dame's Nick Besler and the Zips played a man down for the remainder of the match. Both teams also had two yellow cards in the contest.
Akron led 1-0 at halftime, but Notre Dame produced the equalizer in the 49th minute when Hodan sent the ball into the box and junior forward Leon Brown, who was positioned near the top of the six-yard box, put a foot on it and sent it into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Lachowecki threatened again in the 56th minute when his shot from distance was put on goal and Meves punched it over the crossbar. Irish right back Luke Mishu had an attempt saved by Meves in the 61st minute. Meves had six saves on the day.
An Akron foul in the 63rd minute gave Notre Dame a free kick attempt near the 18-yard box and senior midfielder Dillon Powers delivered with a rocket into the right side of the goal. It was the second goal of the season for Powers.
Notre Dame junior goalkeeper Patrick Wall, who made his second start of the season, saved a Dillon Serna shot in the 75th minute. Wall had three stops in the game.
The physical play continued late into the match and an Akron foul was whistled inside the 18-yard box, which resulted in a penalty kick attempt for the Irish in the 79th minute. Senior forward Ryan Finley put home the shot to collect his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
The Irish out shot the Zips 22-13, including a 9-4 margin for shots on goal. Notre Dame also gained seven more corner kicks (8-1) than Akron.
"Akron's a good team and I feel we were a little intimidated by their reputation and they [Akron] really handled the opening of the game very well," said Irish head coach Bobby Clark. "We then got our strength and Dillon Powers did a fantastic job of just being a captain and a leader. We were getting into the game and then they helped us with the red card. From then on we completely took over."
This marked the fifth time that Notre Dame has won the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, which is in its 11th season. Akron was the runner-up, while Indiana finished third and Oregon State was fourth.
Brown, Lachowecki, Powers and senior central defender Grant Van De Casteele represented Notre Dame on the all-tournament team. Brown was the tournament's offensive MVP, while Van De Casteele was the defensive MVP. Wall and senior Will Walsh were the goalkeeping co-MVP honorees. Walsh had the shutout in Friday's 1-0 win against Oregon State.
"We have a good team and they've shown that by overcoming adversity," added Clark. "We've lost two starters to ACL injuries, but we have a lot of character. It's a long way to go and we have a lot of hard games still to play. I'm very pleased with where we're at right now, but we have a lot of games to play."