If You Go
Who: Indiana vs. Notre Dame
What: Shindigz National Soccer Festival
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bishop D'Arcy Stadium
Tickets: $5 for high school age and under and $7 for adults at Fort Wayne-area Connolly's Do it Best hardware stores and Soccer Plus. $7 for high-school age and $10 for adults day of game
It can be hard to find players with goal-scoring ability, but Notre Dame men's soccer coach Bobby Clark has had a steady stream of skilled strikers.
Clark's latest find, Jon Gallagher, has continued that lineage. The junior scored 14 goals and added seven assists to finish as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016.
It may seem like a no-brainer for a native of Dundalk, Ireland, to choose Notre Dame for a college, but Gallagher was actually recruited out of Connecticut, as his father traveled all over the world as a Guinness employee.
“He may have lived in America more than he lived in Ireland,” Clark said. “We watched him at our camp, and he did very well. Once we saw him, we realized he would be a good asset for our program.”
The Gallagher family's travels included one-year stints in Connecticut, Singapore, England, then back to Connecticut – just while he was in high school. That exposure to soccer all over the world has only helped improve his game.
In Clark's tenure at Notre Dame dating back to 2001, 39 Irish players have gone on to play in the MLS. The Notre Dame coach has no doubt that Gallagher will make it 40.
“He's a pro,” Clark said. “Soccer is very important to him. Everything he does, it's tailored to making him better and making the team better. He really works very hard at trying to be as good as he can be.”
Gallagher and the Irish played an exhibition match last fall during the Shindigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne. On Saturday, Notre Dame makes a return trip to the festival to take on eight-time national champion Indiana in another exhibition.
Indiana coach Todd Yeagley knows full well what to expect from Gallagher.
“He has great composure around the goal, and he has a goal-scorer's mentality,” Yeagley said. “He can create a goal out of nothing, and his runs are what separates him from other attackers. His tactical understanding is very good, and when he draws enough attention he'll find his teammates.
“He's quite a player. I think he's one of the premier strikers in the country. I think he has a lot of traits that will translate to MLS.”
And in a pedigree that includes the likes of Joe Lapira, who won the Hermann Trophy in 2006 as the nation's top male college soccer player; Bright Dike, a Nigerian international currently playing in the Malaysian Super League; Steven Perry, who went on to play professionally in USL; and Ryan Finley, the Hermann Trophy runner-up in 2012, Clark likes how Gallagher stacks up.
“It's always a blessing when you get a kid that can put the ball in the net,” Clark said. “You want a whole team of them. He's quick, he's fast, and the big thing is he's getting better every day.”