Sep 16, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Standout performances from its youngest and oldest starters paced No. 4 Notre Dame in its 1-0 win over No. 20 Syracuse on Saturday night.
Sophomore center back Brandon Aubrey headed in a Patrick Hodan free kick in the 74th minute for the game’s lone goal. It was the first collegiate tally for Aubrey, who was making just his sixth start in an Irish uniform. After appearing in just fourteen games last year as a forward, Aubrey used a strong spring to win a starting role on the back line. His performance has been admirable thus far despite having to adjust to a new position.
“He’s still really learning the position,” head coach Bobby Clark said. “He’s just getting better every game, and he’s done well.”
“He’s just a confident kid. He’s not an overconfident-type, doesn’t talk a lot, but he plays confidently.”
Aubrey’s strike was enough for Notre Dame due in large part to another commanding performance by graduate student goalkeeper Patrick Wall. Wall registered his second shutout of the season and fifteenth of his collegiate career.
“He’s a really smart player, just a good soccer player,” Clark said. “He was an All-American defender in high school, so he’s got really good feet. He’s just got a good feeling for the game. He controls that area behind his back four very well.”
In addition to Aubrey and Wall, Clark lauded the performance of senior midfielder and captain Nick Besler in what turned out to be an exceptionally competitive game. The Orange entered with a 4-0 record and hadn’t allowed a single goal. This fast start, coupled with the defending champs coming to town, resulted in a record crowd of 2,442 at SU Soccer Stadium.
“It was a very difficult game for us,” Clark said. “You definitely have to take the crowd out of the game at first, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that. This group is pretty battle-hardened. Most of them have gone into some pretty hostile environments against good teams, so I don’t think they panic in those situations. There’s a good self-belief and a good discipline to the team. They know what they’re doing.”
Clark was reserved in his excitement over the win, but understanding of the importance of the Irish opening their conference schedule with a victory.
“I think we can play better than we played,” Clark said. “I don’t think that it was a brilliant performance. But it’s what you call a really good, hard road win. We pulled it off nicely.”
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