NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- A capacity crowd of 3,007 witnessed the No. 3 Notre Dame men's soccer team take down No. 8 North Carolina, 2-0, on Friday evening in Atlantic Coast Conference action at Alumni Stadium.
The Fighting Irish produced an efficient effort as they scored on their only two shots on goal of the match. Freshman forward Jeffrey Farina put Notre Dame on top in the 37th minute with the first goal of his career and fifth-year senior Leon Brown put home his team-leading third goal of the campaign in the 71st minute. Junior midfielder Connor Klekota assisted on both scores, while Luke Mishu and Jon Gallagher also registered assists.
North Carolina outshot the Irish 12-7, but Notre Dame goalkeeper Patrick Wall came up big with a season-high six saves to notch the clean sheet. It was the third shutout of the season for Wall and the Irish.
"This was a big game for us because North Carolina is a very good team," Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark said. "They pressure you very, very hard and they make you play the game faster than you really want to. It was faster than we really wanted to play in the first half. I thought we struggled a lot in the first half.
"In the second half, we changed things a little bit and we handled the game very, very nicely. We got the game into their half and we kept the game in their half for periods of time. It was a very good game between two very good teams."
The Tar Heels controlled a lot of the possession in the opening half and their first chance came off a corner kick in the 22nd minute when Walker Hume headed the ball just wide of near post. North Carolina registered its first shot on goal a minute later as Omar Holness sent a low blast right to Wall.
Notre Dame made the most of its first scoring opportunity as Klekota played a through ball to Gallagher, a freshman, on the left side of the field and he crossed it over to Farina, who scored from eight yards away.
"It was a great through pass by Connor Klekota to Jon [Gallagher] and Jon is so quick and he put it over to Jeffrey," Clark added. "[Farina and Gallagher] both can finish well. This time it was Jon to Jeffrey and maybe next week it'll be Jeffrey to Jon. I was happy for them and I was happy for the team."
Less than a minute after the score, Wall saved a shot from Zach Wright and the Irish goalkeeper was called upon once again in the 44th minute to stop an attempt from Alex Olofson.
The Fighting Irish were more assertive in the early stages of the second half and the first solid chance occurred in the 58th minute when Evan Panken drilled a shot wide of the near post from 17 yards out.
The second goal was set up just like the first with a though ball from Klekota. However, this pass seemed a bit too heavy, but Mishu was able to track it down near the right end line and he crossed it into the box to Brown, who buried his shot into the upper left corner of the net from 10 yards out to make it 2-0 with just under 20 minutes left in the match.
In the 77th minute, Wall used a kick-save on a shot from Wright and seconds later Holness came storming into the box and Wall negated that chance as well. The Tar Heels were awarded a penalty kick in the 80th minute, but Holness sailed the attempt over the crossbar.