NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Ben Polk scored the game’s only goal just after halftime as seventh-seeded Syracuse defeated fourth-seeded Notre Dame, 1-0, Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
With the win, the Orange (13-5-3) becomes the lowest-seeded team in league history to win the ACC title and claims the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
"I couldn't be more proud of the guys," said Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre. "We knew the opportunity to play in a game such as this and knew what a privilege it was. This is a very tough tournament to win. For our guys, we've been on the road for a while now. We had some tired bodies today so the character and commitment they showed – our guys stood up individually and collectively and I thought they were magnificent today."
The victory concluded a remarkable run for Syracuse en route to the league title. After defeating NC State at home in the first round, the Orange downed third-ranked North Carolina in penalty kicks, No. 2 Clemson, and No. 9 Notre Dame, with all three games coming on the road.
Both teams were held scoreless in the first 45 minutes. Syracuse was able to generate more opportunities, outshooting the Irish 9-3 and holding a 9-1 edge in corners. For Notre Dame, Patrick Hodan had the best chance of the half for either team in the 27th minute as he banged a hard shot off the left post but could not find the back of the net.
Polk broke the draw just over a minute after halftime. The junior forward took a pass from Julian Buescher and chipped a shot past a diving Chris Hubbard for his 10th of the season. The goal was the third straight for Polk after he scored both in the 2-0 win at Clemson earlier in the week.
The Irish (11-4-5) were able to create more offensive chances during the second half, generating six shots and getting two corner kicks, but were unable to find the equalizer.
With Syracuse earning the ACC’s automatic bid, Notre Dame anticipates an at-large berth when the bracket is announced on Monday afternoon.
“It was a good game because it was a different type of team than we’ve played of late,” said Fighting Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “They were a much more direct team, they’re big, and a little bit older. It was a good lesson for us and I think we can learn a few things from the game, take it into the NCAA tournament.”