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CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — 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 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. UNM hadn’t allowed a goal in the postseason.
“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.”