Secret no longer: Fire Homegrown Harrison Shipp stars as Notre Dame cruise into College Cup final

Harrison Shipp with Notre Dame against New Mexico

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USA Today Sports

CHESTER, Pa. – Notre Dame had such a deep team in 2012 that Harrison Shipp didn’t start a single game.

But with Dillon Powers and Ryan Finley getting most of the headlines for a Fighting Irish squad that captured the Big East championship at PPL Park and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, head coach Bobby Clark had a little secret: Shipp was really good, even if it was in a reserve capacity.

“Harry was superb last year,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “But Dillon was also superb and Ryan was sneaking the goals in, so he got kind of overlooked.”

It’s fair to say Shipp is no longer overlooked.

In Notre Dame’s first trip to the College Cup, Shipp did pretty much anything he wanted to lead the Fighting Irish to a 2-0 win over New Mexico on Friday night at PPL Park – and a spot in Sunday’s national championship.

And it’s no longer a secret that Shipp -- a product of the Chicago Fire Academy -- will join Powers, Finley and the rest of a long line of Notre Dame alums currently playing in Major League Soccer.

“For me, it’s nice when a boy comes in as a freshman, does a little bit and then just grows in confidence,” Clark said. “Harry’s confidence is terrific.”

Shipp, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, finished with a pair of assists Friday to push his season total to 10 – a nice number when you pair it with his 12 goals.

His first assist against the Lobos was especially impressive as he brushed off a defender, made a couple of nifty moves and then patiently waited for Patrick Hodan to make an inside run. He then sent a perfect slip pass to Hodan, who scored his first of two goals to lead Notre Dame into the title game.

“The guy actually tried to foul me,” Shipp said. “He grabbed me from behind. I think I kind of spun out of it and he 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 I figured instead of playing it out wide, I’d wait a second and try to get him going inside so he can create coming onto his left foot. And it worked out perfectly.”

Clark credited Shipp’s summer training with the Fire first team as one reason why his playmaker has enjoyed such a huge senior season. And while it now seems like it’s all but a formality that Shipp will sign a Homegrown contract with the Fire, there’s something that the Notre Dame striker wants to accomplish first.

“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.”

E-mail Dave Zeitlin at djzeitlin@gmail.com.