Notre Dame advances to NCAA soccer final

Patrick Hodan led Notre Dame to its first NCAA men’s soccer

final, scoring twice in the Fighting Irish’s 2-0 semifinal victory

over New Mexico on Friday night at PPL Park.

Notre Dame (16-1-6) will face Maryland in the title game Sunday.

Maryland beat Virginia 2-1 in the second semifinal.

Hodan has scored in six straight games, the last four in the

NCAA tournament, and has 11 goals this season.

”He’s a little guy,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. ”But

he’s Superman when he puts on a uniform. … He’s a special talent

and a special kid.”

Harrison Shipp, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the

nation’s best player, assisted on both goals.

Shipp, who has 12 goals and 10 assists this season, controlled

the tempo in the middle of the field to (AP) – frustrate the Lobos

defense.

”Coming into this year, we had one ultimate goal: to bring the

program to the final four and win a national championship,” Shipp

said. ”And I think we’ve assembled the right group of guys. I

don’t think we have any weaknesses on the field.”

In the seventh minute, Shipp shook off a defender, made a couple

of moves and found Hodan in the box for a shot that snapped New

Mexico’s shutout streak at 317 minutes.

”They actually tried to foul me,” Shipp said. ”They grabbed

me from behind. I think I just kind of spun out of it and they

thought, I’m pretty sure, that the ref was going to call a foul.

The guy kind of froze and then I saw Patrick making a run. And it

worked out perfectly”

The Irish, making their first College Cup appearance, scored

again in the 65th minute when Hodan pounced on a rebound in the box

after Vince Cicciarelli hit the crossbar.

”I wish I could say we were at our best today, but I think we

were all disappointed with our performance,” New Mexico coach

Jeremy Fishbein said. ”It was because Notre Dame was good – that’s

part of it – but I just didn’t feel like we had it today.”

Goalkeeper Patrick Wall made five saves to blank the Lobos

(14-6-2), while Notre Dame’s backline, as well as defensive

midfielder Nick Besler, helped limit New Mexico’s

opportunities.

Besler’s brother, Matt, won the MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas

City last weekend and is getting married Saturday. Nick will have

to miss the wedding – but for good reason.

”I think our whole backline and Nick Besler all have confidence

when we get a shutout,” Wall said. ”We’re all looking forward to

the next game. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t set out to

get to the final. We set out to win the whole thing.”