Tony Jones | October 4, 2017
When the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team and Northwestern meet on the pitch, it is safe to say that the record book can be thrown out.
A physical, hard-fought game has almost always ensued in the past 10 years when the sides lock up, and Tuesday was no different. Facing a 1-0 deficit late in the second half, Notre Dame found an equalizer in the 80th minute from Felicien Dumas and the winning strike in overtime from Jon Gallagher to down the rival Wildcats 2-1 at Alumni Stadium.
No. 9 Notre Dame (7-2-1) controlled the flow of play in many of the same ways that it has in its recent series with Northwestern (2-9-0), outshooting the Wildcats by an aggregate 17-5 margin in the victory. The Irish, who improved to 2-1-2 against Northwestern in the past five meetings between the teams since 2013, have dominated the shot chart in each matchup in that current run with the Wildcats. One of the NCAA leaders in corner kicks attempted thus far in 2017, Notre Dame also held the edge over Northwestern at an 8-1 clip.
As it has done countless times in the rough and tumble series between the clubs, pesky Northwestern was the first to strike despite Notre Dame having the better of play in the first half. A nifty Sean Lynch pass and Tommy Katsiyiannis left-footed finish gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 35:51. Despite being outshot 4-2 and with the Irish firmly in control of possession, it was Northwestern with the halftime advantage.
Fortunes began to change for Notre Dame in the second half, as Northwestern clung tightly to its narrow lead. The Wildcats would attempt only one shot over the game’s final 35 minutes, but solid defense and goalkeeping from Robbie White kept Northwestern in front by one goal.
A key 79th minute substitution for Notre Dame wound up changing the course of the game. Entering just prior to an Irish corner kick at the opposite flag, Sean MacLeod settled the ball up the right flank and on his initial touch of the game sent a looping cross in front to Dumas. Dumas smashed MacLeod’s first career assist into the back of the net with a header at the left post for Dumas’ second goal of the season, and the equalizer, at 79:01 (1-1).
Notre Dame nearly went a man-up in the 83rd minute on a free run for Gallagher up the channel. Northwestern defender Andrew McLeod was lucky to only receive a yellow card for his hard tackle of the breaking Gallagher who would have been unabated to the Wildcat net.
It was all Notre Dame throughout the overtime session. A Dumas corner kick ultimately found its way to MacLeod at the top of the box in the run of play in the 97th minute. MacLeod blasted a tempting shot that just sailed over the crossbar but kept the Irish on the front foot.
The game would end just under two minutes later. Blake Townes played Jack Casey into space to the left of the Northwestern 18-yard box, and Casey sent a well-placed through ball up the right of the pitch to Sean Dedrick. Dedrick dropped a perfect cross to the diving Gallagher shaded near post for the flick header into the Wildcat goal. Gallagher’s seventh score of the season cemented Notre Dame victory at 98:15.