Wolfpack disappointed by tie with ranked Irish

Despite a highlight reel goal from Zach Knudson, N.C. State couldn’t help feeling it missed out on a major opportunity Sunday.

The Wolfpack battled top-10 powerhouse Notre Dame to a 1-1 tie in ACC men’s soccer in the wind and misty rain at Dail Soccer Field. Knudson’s dramatic goal on a bicycle kick in the 76th minute offset a first-half goal by sophomore forward Jon Gallagher of the Irish, who are ranked anywhere from fourth to eighth in the three major soccer polls.

Disappointment was the emotion of the day, however.

“It’s a good thing when you tie the No. 4 team in the country and you’re disappointed,” said coach Kelly Findley, whose Wolfpack is 21st or 22nd in two polls. “We dominated every statistic, including possession, and we’re disappointed.”

N.C. State (6-2-2, 1-1-2 ACC) outshot Notre Dame 23-11, including 11-1 in a dominant first-half effort, and had a 10-5 advantage in corner kicks. But the Irish (7-2-2, 2-1-1) turned their only first-half shot – Gallagher’s diving header on a corner kick for his seventh goal – into a big one. Notre Dame junior goalkeeper Chris Hubbard made five saves to preserve the tie, and at least three of those were extraordinary stops. N.C. State senior goalkeeper Alex McCauley registered one save on the day.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Knudson, a sophomore midfielder who netted his team-leading fourth goal of the season. “We outshot them. Their goalie made some incredible saves. But we definitely should have walked away with three points.” Teams get three points in the league standings for a victory and one point for a tie.

It took some heroics by Knudson just to get the tie, however. He found some space outside the left post and got on the end of a cross from freshman midfielder Julius Duchscherer for the tying goal on a perfectly executed bicycle kick.

“Actually I did the same thing for the Red Bulls during the summer,” Knudson said of his time with the MLS team’s reserve squad. “Exactly the same way. The ball came in high, and I hit it the same way.”

“Fantastic,” Findley said of the play. “Everything about it, from the buildup, to the ball in the box, and the way he took the shot.”

Although the Wolfpack had its regrets, so did the Irish. Notre Dame dominated the overtimes, outshooting State 6-1 in the extra 20 minutes. Gallagher, who hit the right post from close range in regulation, saw his finish of a 2-on-1 break go just wide left to open the second overtime.

“I think we had our best chances in the overtimes,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “(N.C. State) is a very good team. They had a lot of the play. Kelly’s done a great job with them. Arguably they’re the best team we’ve played all year.”

It’s the second straight tie for N.C. State in ACC play. The Wolfpack drew 1-1 at Louisville nine days earlier.

“In the end a point is a good result in this league,” Findley said philosophically. “It will probably come down to one point for three or four places in the standings.”