Virginia men’s soccer traveled to South Bend, Ind. Friday night for a battle against ACC foe Notre Dame. The Cavaliers (4-3-1, 1-2 ACC) trailed from the fourth minute until the final whistle against the No. 15 Fighting Irish (5-1-3, 2-0-1 ACC), who cruised to a 3-1 victory to give Virginia a losing conference record in 2023.
Despite ending up on the wrong end of the result, it was the Cavaliers who produced more shots in the game. Virginia registered 13 shots to just 9 for the Fighting Irish, as well as controlling 58 percent of the possession in the match. In the end, Notre Dame’s clinicality in the final third drowned the Cavaliers, who failed to take advantage of their own opportunities.
The match got off to a quick start, with senior goalkeeper Holden Brown diving for an impressive save just three minutes in. The Fighting Irish were able to capitalize on the next corner, however, when junior forward Matthew Roou received a cross and directed his header towards the top right corner. A leaping Brown got his hand to the shot, but it was not enough to keep the ball out of the net. Notre Dame led 1-0 after just under five minutes.
The match continued at a high energy level, with senior midfielder Mouhameth Thiam attempting a shot just seconds after the Fighting Irish goal. His attempt was blocked by Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Bryan Dowd, however.
As the first half continued, Virginia was able to apply consistent pressure on the Fighting Irish. But just before the half ended, Notre Dame increased their lead when sophomore midfielder Wyatt Lewis received a pass from sophomore midfielder KK Baffour and blasted the ball past Brown into the Cavaliers’ net.
Virginia started the second half strong, as Thiam shot a pass to sophomore defender Reese Miller, who was able to cross a ball that deflected off Fighting Irish graduate defender Mo Williams and landed in the goal. The Cavaliers halved their deficit with over 40 minutes remaining.
With almost an hour of play complete, junior forward Kome Ubogu attempted to even the score for Virginia with a shot from inside the penalty box. The shot was blocked by Dowd, although Ubogu collected the rebound and sent the ball to freshman forward Stephen Annor Gyamfi, whose shot was just wide of the goal. Of the three shots Ubogu took throughout the game, two were placed on goal.
With 15 minutes left to play, Notre Dame junior forward Eno Nto shot the ball past Brown, putting the Fighting Irish up 3-1 and effectively ending the game.
Virginia fought hard against a top team, but the loss brought the Cavaliers to 0-2-1 on the road this season. While only two of Virginia’s eight remaining games are away from home, the Cavaliers must prove they can compete outside of Klöckner Stadium if they want to make a push for NCAA Tournament contention in November.
Virginia is back in action at home Tuesday, when they will host East Tennessee State for a non-conference battle. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and stream on ACC Network.