Men's Week 3: Three things we learned this weekend

ACC conference play opened with several matchups involving unbeaten teams. No. 3 Notre Dame edged No. 5 Clemson in a match it got great work from its two center backs. Duke played a superb first half of soccer and came back from 2-1 down to tie defending national champion Virginia. Akron rallied from two goals down after seven minute to beat Saint Louis for its third straight victory over a Top 25 team.

1. Notre Dame's center backs are effective on both ends.

No. 3 Notre Dame got its ACC campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 win over No. 5 Clemson on a 51st-minute goal from junior defender Matt Habrowski.

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The Irish held the Tigers without a shot on goal and extended their shutout streak to open the 2015 season to 489 minutes, their longest ever to begin a campaign.
“That was always going to be a very difficult game,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “I thought we handled it well and knocked the ball forward well. Our two center backs, Patrick Berneski and Matt Habrowski, did very well and handled that. Our midfield was very good, Connor Klekota is just a dynamo in there. He works all the time and picks up the pieces. Oliver Harris and Blake Townes also.”
Notre Dame scored off a set piece with Berneski acting as the decoy.

“We called on one of our center backs to get the goal, which was very nice,” Clark said. “Matt got the goal. I think everyone was looking at Bernie as the big target and Matt snuck in. He’s done that a few times, and he did the same thing against Mexico last year in the spring game. He just sneaks in there and gets his head on it and scores a vital goal. It was a nice goal and that was all we needed.”

Men's Top 25 Matchups, Week 3:
No. 10 Maryland 2 (Elney 67, Kabelik 84) No. 8 Akron 3 (Najem 22, Laryea 39, 83). Att.: 4,003.
No. 14 Georgetown 3 (Campbell 39, 88, Basuljevic 47) No. 16 UCLA 1 (Yueill 71). Att.: 2,159.
No. 5 Clemson 1 (Burnikel 28) No. 9 Coastal Carolina 1 (Follensbee 77) Att.: 2,748.

No. 15 Louisville 2 (Schmid 26, Johnson 28) No. 25 Kentucky 0. Att.: 4,507.
No. 8 Akron 3 (Gainford 39, 71, Najem 53) No. 17 Saint Louis 2 (Brown 3, Pavisic 7). Att.: 2,734.
No. 3 Notre Dame 1 (Habrowski 51) No. 5 Clemson 0. Att.: 1,379.

2. Duke continues to make strides.

Duke blew a 1-0 lead after a great first half of soccer but came back from 2-1 down to tie defending national champion Virginia, 2-2, in their ACC opener. The draw was the Blue Devils' first blemish in five games, but their 4-0-1 start is the best since 2006 when the team opened the first five games at 5-0-0.

“We’ve made a lot of strides since last year,” said Duke coach John Kerr. “It was great for us to play an excellent first 30 minutes. I’m disappointed with the two goals we gave away in the second half that put us behind the eight ball, but I’ve got to give my players credit for the way they bounced back and got back into the game. They were determined to not lose that game.”

Sophomore Jeremy Ebobisse scored the equalizer in the 67th minute with a volley after Jared Rist's header off the crossbar. He also won the game for Duke later in the half when he hit a shot off the underside of the crossbar.

3. Akron adds belief to resiliency and character.

Down 2-0 to No. 17 Saint Louis after seven minutes, No. 8 Akron was in big trouble in its home opener, but that didn't stop the Zips, who rallied for a 3-2 win and its third straight victory over a Top 25 team.

"We did not start well tonight and we need to learn from that," Akron head coach Jared Embick said. "Saint Louis is a great team and we needed a special effort and some great goals to come from behind. This team has shown it has resiliency and character many times. Today we showed that we now have the belief to go with it."

A goal by Englishman Sam Gainford late in the first half got the Akron fans back into the game on a rain-soaked evening. Adam Najem made it 2-2 with a goal on a free kick in the 53rd minute, and Gainford completed the comeback with the winning goal in the 71st minute off fellow sophomore Richie Laryea's second assist of the game.

"I thought Sam Gainford was special tonight and really got this team going," added Embick.

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