Notre Dame men’s soccer is heading to the national championship game of the College Cup following a win over Oregon State. The Irish (13-2-6, 6-0-2 ACC) will return to the title game for the first time since 2013, when the program one its first and only national championship.
It was a sloppy first half for the Irish, who committed several unforced errors and opened themselves up to dangerous opportunities from the Beavers (11-6-5, 5-3-3 Pac-12). One particularly lax defensive series ended with senior defender Paddy Burns clearing the ball from in front of the goal and then sharing a few choice words with his teammates.
And on the other side of the pitch, Notre Dame played tentative. On more than one occasion the Irish could have taken a shot from inside the Beavers’ box, but they instead hesitated and let the defense cut off scoring opportunities.
For their part, Oregon State was fearless, coming into the semifinals as the only team outside the top-16 seeds. That aggressive approach led to several fouls and yellow cards, but it also set the tone as the Beavers kept the Irish on their heels in the opening period.
Coming out of the break, Notre Dame looked sharper, and it didn’t take long for them to break the scoring drought. Sophomore midfielder Wyatt Lewis received the ball outside Oregon State’s 18-yard box, then found junior forward Eno Nto at the 6-yard box. Nto bounced the pass into the air and struck the volley to put the Irish up 1-0 with his 11th goal of the season.
Following the Notre Dame goal, the momentum began to swing in Oregon State’s favor as the Beavers turned up the pressure. At one point, it looked like the score would be knotted up as senior goalie Bryan Dowd found himself out of position on a defensive scramble. However, junior defender Josh Ramsey single-handedly saved the Irish lead, blocking the direct shot with his chest and getting a foot on the ball two more times before Dowd finally fell on it.
— Notre Dame Men's Soccer (@NDMenSoccer) December 9, 2023
Ramsey with one of the best defensive plays of the year to keep the lead intact!
: ESPNU pic.twitter.com/SB75jWRiZg
From there, Notre Dame continued to hang on for dear life. But despite a series of close calls, they managed to secure a 1-0 shutout win. The Irish return to the pitch Monday at 6:00 p.m. for a rematch of their 2021 national semifinal loss to Clemson.