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Men’s Soccer: Irish topple ranked Indiana

By Sam Gans | Thursday, September 27, 2012

After dropping its first game of the season Saturday against No. 24 Louisville, No. 8 Notre Dame rebounded strongly with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night at No. 10 Indiana.

Irish senior defender Grant Van De Casteele netted his first goal of the season in the 71st minute on a header past Indiana redshirt senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner. The goal came off a corner kick from Irish senior captain and midfielder Dillon Powers to give the Irish (8-1-0, 0-1 Big East) the lead over the Hoosiers (6-2-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten).

The connection between Powers and Van De Casteele, who were youth club soccer teammates in Texas, was just the second strong scoring opportunity for the Irish off a corner, Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

“In the first half actually if it wasn’t for a fantastic save by their goalkeeper, [Irish sophomore midfielder] Nick Besler would have done the same. … [In the second half,] Dillon Powers took the corner and Grant headed it home, so it was the Dallas connection,” Clark said.

Van De Casteele’s contribution was not just felt on the offensive side of the field, but also the defensive end. The Irish did not allow a shot on goal until the 86th minute when junior goalkeeper Patrick Wall made his only save of the evening on a header attempt from Indiana freshman midfielder Femi Hollinger-Janzen.

Clark said the success was a team effort, not just a result of the back four’s play.

“It’s not just the defense,” Clark said. “I always say it’s about how the whole team defends. We start defending from the highest forward. … Obviously the defense has got to play a part and they were well-organized and they certainly did well.
 

“It was the first game for [junior defender] Connor Miller and that was great that he came in … and I think Grant Van De Casteele, he’s a great person to make him feel at home. I think Grant did a good job making him feel comfortable.”

 

The Irish are now unbeaten in their last three matches against Indiana, which entered the contest on a three-game winning streak. The match also marked the fifth time this season the Irish scored the game-winning goal in the final 20 minutes and pushed Notre Dame’s record to 6-1 in one-goal matches.

 

Notre Dame won its first seven matches of the season before losing its first Big East fixture 2-1 on Saturday at Louisville(5-3-0, 1-0-0). The Irish resume Big East play Saturday when they travel to No. 2 Connecticut, concluding what Clark called “a week from hell.”

 

“These are all good tests for the team,” Clark said. “If you’re going to be a serious contender for a national championship, you’ve got to be able to go to places like Indiana and to Louisville and to Connecticut and take something positive away. It’s a growing period. The team is still growing.”

 

The Irish and Huskies kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Storrs, Conn.