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Men’s Soccer: No. 16 Hoosiers top No. 1 Irish in double overtime

Sam Gans | Monday, November 26, 2012

No. 1 Notre Dame fell to No. 16 Indiana 2-1 in double overtime Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Championship in front of a crowd of 1,242 in Alumni Stadium.

Indiana sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta sent a header past Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Will Walsh with 8:54 remaining in the second overtime session to place Indiana (13-5-3) into the quarterfinals and end the season for Notre Dame (17-4-1). Hoosier junior defender Matt McKain delivered a cross to the box that was redirected by Hoosier junior midfielder Nikita Kotlov to Zavaleta for the score and sent the Hoosiers celebrating with the large contingent of Indiana supporters who made the trip to South Bend.

“It seemed to be a ball that somehow got in between [junior defender] Connor Miller and [senior defender] Danny O’Leary and [Zavaleta] just got in the seam between them and got a header on the ball,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “It was put well away from Will Walsh. I don’t think our goalkeeper had any chance. It was a good header.”

The Irish got on the board first when senior midfielder Kyle Richard slotted home a shot in the lower corner in the 54th minute past Indiana redshirt senior goalkeeper Luis Soffner. However, just 56 seconds later, the Hoosiers tied the game when Kotlov finished a cross inside the 6-yard box from junior midfielder A.J. Corrado.

“That’s disappointing,” Clark said. “The next five minutes is a very important time [to hold the lead after scoring a goal] and we didn’t do that so that was disappointing. I think if we had held it, then you frustrate them and then you get into the game, but that was the way it came today.”

The match was the second meeting between the two squads this season. Both were decided by one goal, as the Irish defeated the Hoosiers 1-0 in Bloomington, Ind., on Sept. 26.

The Hoosiers dominated most of the first half Sunday, recording eight shots to Notre Dame’s two in the first 45 minutes. But the second half was more even, with Indiana holding a 9-8 advantage.

“I think any time Notre Dame plays Indiana it’s always going to be a great game, and it was a great game,” Clark said. “It ebbed and flowed. We had periods where we played very well; they had periods where they played very well. I thought they brought a lot of intensity. They opened the game well and maybe had the better of the early stages of the game, certainly the first half. But I thought we defended superbly in that time.

“I don’t think we gave many chances and I thought as the game wore on, we came into the game, found a bit of space and maybe could have got a little bit more out of it. But it was a great game, somebody’s always going to be heartbroken and I’m afraid in this case, it was us.”

The Irish were missing two starting defenders in Sunday’s match with junior Andrew O’Malley out to injury and junior Luke Mishu suspended after receiving a red card in Notre Dame’s 3-0 second round win over Michigan State. Miller and O’Leary – usually a midfielder – started in their place. In addition, sophomore midfielder Brendan Lesch started his first game of the season.

“I thought Danny came in – Danny’s usually a wide midfield player – we’re obviously starting to hurt a little bit in the back line, and Danny did well,” Clark said. “It’s a little bit strange; it’s not his usual position, but he did well. And Lesch opened up some space. I thought Brendan played very well. He’s a very dynamic player. And he was a boy that actually had broken his ankle in the summer time, so he’s really just getting back to full fitness.”

Despite a disappointing end to the season, the team earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history and won the Big East title for the first time since 2003 and third time overall.

“It’s a great tribute to this group of young men that they had a tremendous season and as I told them in [the locker room], they’ve got nothing to hang their heads and they should hold their heads high,” Clark said. “But it’s also set a standard and now for those that follow, we’ve got to go further. The NCAA [tournament] is the ultimate and that’s where we’ve fallen short in recent years. So we’re very disappointed but also very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year.

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu