In-game discussion: Notre Dame at IU

INDIANA 3, NOTRE DAME 1 (FINAL)

The Hoosiers had a team meeting earlier this week during which they shared every thought they had about this team and why it wasn’t playing up to its potential.

“It was kind of just like we all got together as a team,” Kevin Alston said. “We pretty much just got everything out there on the table. If you had something to say, you said it.”

Whatever was said, it worked.

Indiana snapped a two-game home losing streak and, coach Mike Freitag hopes, learned to play a full 90-minute game.

For senior Kevin Noschang, who made just his second start of the year and also scored his second goal, the win represents redemption for a program that many had written off.

“It’s weird to be on an IU soccer team that’s underrated,” he said. “For the first time, tonight, as a team, we felt like we were underrated. We were the underdog. We came in and wanted to show the country what we’re capable of and I think we did that.”

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Less that four minutes remain in this game, and Notre Dame has still having only intermittent success in the offensive half of the field.

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Indiana’s whittling away the final minutes of the game without much resistance from Notre Dame. This second half has been a solid effort from every position on the field. Forward Neil Wilmarth  has been important in making IU’s defense work, as he’s constantly come back to retrieve the ball out of his zone and been able to carry it through the midfield. He’s been fiesty, too, drawing two yellow cards from Notre Dame and receiving one of his own.

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The Hoosiers are playing defense by keeping possession in the midfield. But Dike has returned for the Irish, so the final push should begin as we click down inside 15 minutes remaining.

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Some nifty play inside the box leads to a couple of Notre Dame chances, but Brad Ring, ever the warrior, finally steps into the path of a potential shot and sends the ball flying back toward the midfield.

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Interesting move by Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark: he’s yanked Bright Dike, his leading scorer and easily the most dangerous individual on the pitch tonight. Maybe he wants him to regain his legs.

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Alston again creates offense. He somehow weaved a pass through four defenders to Adlard about eight yards from goal. All he could do, though, was feebly slide onto the ball and send it toward Quinn, who scooped it.

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Will Bruin shows his scorer’s instinct, driving through the box and spinning a ball through the middle. Though two Indiana players should have gotten on the end of the pass — and finished it — they did not.

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Early runs at goal for each team. Both to no avail.

Alston’s been superb. He just owned a Notre Dame player on the far side of the field, then was able to turn and get the ball up the sideline quickly to create an IU chance. Unless he kicks the ball in his own net twice, he’ll be the player of the game. Not that anybody ever names a player of the game at these things. Just saying.

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A few half-time thoughts….

The Hoosiers gave up two goals in the final ten minutes of their 2-0 loss to Michigan State on Sunday. Obviously they’re being asked to tighten up the defense by coach Mike Freitag during his half-time chat.

The problem? Indiana has needed to take chances at this time to produce offense. Consider this: coming into this game, Notre Dame had scored 30 goals while Indiana had scored only 16.

But now that Indiana has popped three shots in, it needs to revert back to protecting the goal.

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INDIANA 3, NOTRE DAME 1

Andy Adlard with a bit of brilliance. He got open running down the right side, took a pass and was able to cut toward the middle. His shot — also from about the 18 — slid under Quinn’s arms and against the far side of the net.

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INDIANA 2, NOTRE DAME 1

Michael Thomas can score fancy goals, too. He just plucked a long volley out of the air and blasted it right over Cain’s head.

Thomas, who now has seven goals on the year, squirted away from the left side of Indiana’s defense and was able to plant himself other a high-arcing pass. Cain squared to make the save but had no time to react to a well-placed strike.

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The Fighting Irish get their first concerted pressure of the past 10 minutes, with leading scorer Bright Dike (pronounced Dee-Kay) creating his own shot in front of four red jerseys. His corkscrew attempt got past Cain but also slid wide of the post.

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With 15 minutes left in the first half, Freitag opts for a pair of changes. Darren Yeagle and Neil Wilmarth will have a run. The hope is that their fresh legs will keep Notre Dame reeling.

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INDIANA 2, NOTRE DAME 0

Freitag makes a coaching move that pays off immediately. After the first score, Alston moved over to right back. The ball worked to him, and he was able to work it through the box. It came to Noschang, a player not generally known for his touch, near the 18. He was able to pop the ball in the air, turn on it and crush it past an out-stretched Quinn.

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INDIANA 1, NOTRE DAME 0

Alston makes a play that will go in the highlight reels. After taking a pass from Alexander about half-way between the midfield line and the goal line, he turned and cocked a curving shot toward the top corner. Quinn had no chance.

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More miscommunication from the Indiana defense. That has doomed them all year.

Notre Dame’s Dave Donohue was able to run through the IU back line and center a pass that two players had a shot to finish. Chay Cain — always aggressive — made the save.

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With 25 minutes left, Noschang earns a corner kick by running onto a deep volley — that’s clearly in the playbook tonight — but the chance is wasted. The kick from the far corner flies over the grouping in front.

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A flurry of activity. Left back Kevin Alston — who has been for the past two and a half seasons the most consistent scoring threat on this team — danced into the box, beat a defender and slid a shot toward the far post. After a save by Andrew Quinn, the ball cleared to Alexander, who unleashed a slicing shot toward the near corner. Quinn again made the save, and Indiana could not corral the ball for another shot.

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Noschang, the speedy senior, is making just his second start of the year.

I think you can read this two ways: 1) he’s shown some leadership this week or 2) Indiana coach Mike Freitag thinks he can exploit Notre Dame’s defense with speed.

Eric Alexander, the enigmatic midfielder, has been dangerous out on the wing today. His creativity might open the middle of the field for Noschang to strike quickly or Bruin, the crafty freshman, to find space to get off his shot.

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Indiana’s offense gets going when — who else? — Brad Ring is able to make a run from the right side, resulting in a couple of shots toward goal. But now Rich Balchan has gone down to the ground with an injury. Not sure what happened, but but he’s having trouble standing. The medical staff has been called onto the field. Now he’s coming off under his own power. He’s got a bloody nose. Tommy Meyer is going to replace Balchan; Meyer, a freshman, struggled a bit early in the season then dealt with injuries. Let’s see how he fares here.

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Notre Dame has had the better of the play through the first two minutes, as it has maintained possession and twice seemed to be in position to score during a scramble in the box. This, of course, barely means anything in a game that will last at least 90 minutes, but a slow start is an ominous sign for a team that should be fairly angry about its results the last few times out.

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Just a few minutes from the start here.

Here’s the line-up Indiana will go with tonight to start:

Will Bruin-Kevin Noschang

John Mellencamp-Eric Alexander-Andy Adlard

Brad Ring

Kevin Alston-Ofori Sarkodi-Rich Balchan-Lee Hagedorn

Chay Cain

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Un-ranked Indiana (it’s strange to write that about the men’s soccer team) hosts No. 9 Notre Dame tonight at Armstrong Stadium. The Hoosiers (6-4-2) have lost two straight at home and find themselves tied for fourth in the Big Ten after three games (1-2).

Their recent games with the Fighting Irish have been spirited. Though Indiana has a 24-5-1 record in the series, four of Notre Dame’s wins have come in the last eight years.

To follow the action using new-fangled elements such as moving pictures and broadcast words, log onto www.iuhoosiers.com. You’ll be able to find a live stream of the game there. Feel free to follow along here, too. Game starts at 7:30.

5 comments

  1. We you think you can win!
    You will win!

    Hoosiers keep believing in yourself.
    You’ve got what it takes.
    Congratulations!
    From the Kellys and all your Tennessee Fans

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