Men’s Soccer: Kupe goal rallies Cats to 1-1 tie with Fighting Irish

Dan Ryan

The last person Notre Dame wanted to see Wednesday was Oliver Kupe.

As he has done so many times during his career, the senior forward delivered late in the second half, scoring the equalizing goal with 11 minutes left in regulation to force a tie with No. 12 Notre Dame.

Northwestern came out strong from the opening whistle, controlling a majority of the possessions and creating myriad chances. The Wildcats outshot the Fighting Irish 6-2 in the first half, but Notre Dame needed only one chance to gain the advantage.

Forward Ryan Finley, who came off the bench to take four shots on the night, got past the Cats defense and buried an Adam Mena pass in the back of the net to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead.

“Even though we were trailing 1-0 in the first half, we really set the tempo for the game,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We had the majority of the possessions. We generated the better chances. They were just able to get behind us one time and put that away.”

The Cats locked the game down in the second half, however. Freshman goalkeeper Tyler Miller combined with the back line to keep Notre Dame off the scoreboard and NU in the match.

“The second half, Tyler Miller did a great job in terms of making a couple saves to keep us in the game,” Lenahan said. “The game had to open up a little bit because we’re trying to press forward to get the equalizer. They were able to generate some chances, but we knew we were going to get our looks in there.”

In the 79th minute, NU finally got the look it wanted. All Kupe needed was an assist from sophomore midfielder Lepe Seetane to tie the game at one and give Notre Dame more problems.

“Ollie Kupe gives Notre Dame fits,” Lenahan said. “He just plays his best against them and was able to get inside and get the equalizer. For historic record, Ollie scored two goals his freshman year in the NCAA Tournament when we were losing 1-0 to beat Notre Dame 2-1. Those were his only two goals of the year.”

Kupe almost put the game away shortly thereafter.

“Ollie did a great job,” Lenahan said. “He used his strength and got through, and almost had a second one a few minutes later.”

Neither team could muster up any offense in the overtime frames. Notre Dame did record four shots, one of which was on net, but Lenahan was happy with the result.

“We just played really well,” Lenahan said. “We really battled. We not only battled and grinded against a good team, we played pretty well. The possession was pretty even, and chances, pretty even. And that’s a very good team that knows how to keep the ball. I’m happy with our effort, and a tie is a fair result.”

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