CHESTER, Pa. -- Notre Dame is headed to the ship, otherwise known as the national championship game, thanks in large part to the play of senior forward Harrison Shipp.
Whether looking to set up one of his teammates for a goal or being prepared to sink one in the net himself, Shipp has a keen field awareness that has helped his team get to the biggest stage of men’s collegiate soccer, the Men’s College Cup final.
On both goals in Friday’s semifinal, Shipp was able to set up sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan, who is on a hot streak of his own scoring a goal in each of the past six games, which is a career-best streak.
“I think I picked the ball up and the guy tried to foul me, he grabbed me from behind,” Shipp said. “I just kind of spun out of it, and I’m pretty sure they thought the ref was going to call a foul, so the guy on me kind of froze. I saw Patrick [Hodan] making a run and I figured instead of playing it out wide, I’d wait a second and try to get him going inside because he’s great on his left foot. It worked out perfectly; he took a touch and played it right inside the post, just like Patrick does most games.”
Hodan sank the first goal just seven minutes into the matchup, giving the Fighting Irish a little room for comfort.
“I think it was good we got the first goal of the game,” Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. “It put us in control of the tempo and control the game a little bit. The second goal made it a little easier.”
“It’s obviously great to go ahead from the start. It gave us a little cushion and a bit of confidence in the game which was nice,” Hodan added.
With Hodan’s pair of goals, he now holds the program record for goals in an NCAA championship. But Hodan doesn’t hesitate to give credit where credit is due. He knows that the talented Notre Dame squad would not be headed to the title game without Shipp and the rest of his teammates providing such a balanced support system across the board.
“Our last four NCAA games we’ve really started to move the ball well,” Hodan said. “Everyone’s finding the open guy and whoever scores, as long as we score. I think everyone on the team is pretty confident in their abilities and I know I’m confident in everyone else so it’s nice to be confident.”
That confidence will go a long way in Notre Dame’s first championship match, as will the ability to rely on any player on the field on Sunday, in an effort to accomplish the team’s goal they set at the beginning of the season – to take a title back to South Bend.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t set out to get to the final, we set out to win the whole thing,” senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall said.
And that’s just what Shipp and the Fighting Irish intend to do on Sunday.