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Men’s Soccer: Hoosier showdown looms

Chris Allen | Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The recent creation of the Rakes of Mallow student section at Notre Dame home soccer games is a testament to the intensity of the sport — something that will be on display Wednesday night as the Irish travel to Bloomington to take on No. 25 Indiana with Hoosier State bragging rights on the line.

“In Britain you call these types of games derby games,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It’s like when Rangers takes on Celtic in Scotland or when Manchester City faces Manchester United in England. City bragging rights are on the line. This game has a derby feel, as Notre Dame and Indiana are certainly two of the biggest names in the state.”

The Hoosiers (5-3-1) come into the game against the Irish (4-2-3) with a dominant 24-5-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 3-0 victory over Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium last season.

Clark said he believes this year’s Hoosier performance — in their first season under new head coach Todd Yeagley — is better than their record lets on.

“They’re very similar to us in a number of ways,” Clark said. “They’ve played a tough schedule just as we have. Their record isn’t indicative of their ability. They’ve taken some close losses, but they’re a good team. I think Indiana can win a championship just as I think Notre Dame can.”

The Hoosiers are led by junior forward Will Bruin whose seven goals and 15 points lead a talented roster that includes standout sophomore goalie Luis Soffrier.

“There’s more to this game than just a rivalry,” Clark said. “It’s a jolly game because both teams are filled with such talented players.”

Clark’s squad will head into the contest fresh off a 2-1 weekend victory over Providence. After the game, Clark expressed displeasure with his team’s defensive focus, something that he said the team would work on for future games.

“You don’t have a ton of time between games to address these things,” Clark said. “We just need to make sure that we communicate the key concepts to the players.”

The game-winning goal in the Providence game came from senior forward Steven Perry, who leads the Irish with five goals on the season. Perry also leads the Big East in game-winning goals, with three on the season.

Clark said that although the Irish are embracing a complete team approach to scoring, Perry will need to continue to score if the Irish are to take down top teams like the Hoosiers.

“That’s what you look for from Perry up top,” Clark said. “It comes with the position. We’re getting better at getting the whole group involved though.”

Perry and the rest of the Irish attack will be on display at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the Hoosiers in Bloomington.