Men’s Soccer: Making Statements
Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, October 3, 2013
Indiana crimson splotched large sections of the stands during an attempted whiteout at Alumni Stadium Wednesday night, but it was the Hoosier faithful who went home disappointed as the No. 2 Irish beat the defending national champions, 2-0.
“It feels good,” junior forward Vince Cicciarelli said. “It’s IU, they ended our season last year, and it’s a big inner-state rivalry, big regional game. We’re just making a statement here that we’re for real this year.”
Irish coach Bobby Clark said he and the players did not view the win over Indiana (4-5-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) as “revenge” for knocking Notre Dame (5-0-3, 2-0-2 ACC) out of the tournament on the way to their eighth championship.
“Not at all, and we talked about that. We talked about focus and playing our own game,” Clark said when asked if his team felt they had “gotten back” at the Hoosiers. “Indiana’s a class act in every way. They’re well coached, they’ve got some very good players, and any time Notre Dame plays Indiana, it’s just a great game.”
Although Indiana gave the Irish a few early scares, Cicciarelli received a play-in from senior forward Harrison Shipp, then single-handedly broke through two defenders and Indiana’s sophomore goalkeeper Michael Soderlund to force the ball into the goal and put the Irish up, 1-0, in the 21st minute.
“That’s maybe the monkey off his back a little bit,” Clark said. “He was terrific the whole game, and getting the goal was obviously the icing on the cake for him, but I think that will be the first of many.”
The goal was the first of Cicciarelli’s college career.
“It was awesome. My parents and my grandma were here, so that was sweet,” Cicciarelli said. “It’s the longest drought I’ve ever had without scoring a goal, but obviously we’ve been winning so I don’t really care if I score or not, just as long as we get the job done.”
Cicciarelli’s goal opened the floodgates for the Irish, who finished the first half with nine shots. It was sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan who stretched the lead to two with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Hodan, who entered the game during the time-stoppage following Cicciarelli’s goal, dribbled around a Hoosier defender and threaded a left-footed touch into the lower-left corner of the net for his third goal of the season.
“He always was a natural goal-scorer. He’s a predator,” Clark said of Hodan. “He scores goals. He’s got a cool head around the box, and he’s got a very accurate shot.”
Although Indiana finished the match trailing Notre Dame 17-8 in the shot count, senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall bore part of the responsibility for the shutout, his fourth of the season. Wall, who has played every minute of the regular season so far and allowed just four goals, had three saves against Indiana.
“He didn’t have a lot to do, but the save he had in the first couple of minutes was fantastic, down to his left hand,” Clark said. “He did the same last week against Michigan. He’s so focused; if that shot goes in, the whole game changes.”
Despite taking a two-goal lead into the second half, Clark said he could feel the tension through the rest of the game.
“It would’ve been nicer if it had been four goals,” Clark said. “Two-nothing, they always says that’s the most dangerous lead; you think you’re comfortable, but if they score a goal you’re in trouble. We realized the game wasn’t going to be over, but I thought we handled the game well in the second half; there was always a little bit of tension, because Indiana is a very good team.”
The Irish successfully prevented Indiana freshman forward Tommy Thompson from doing any lasting damage on the score sheet, although he did have two shots and several scoring opportunities.
“We just had to stay on our feet; he’s a very lively player,” Clark said. “He’s kind of their Harry Shipp, almost. He does a lot of the same stuff that Harry does for us, and our players are used to defending Harry at practice. You’ve got to work your feet, you’ve got to be very alert. [Senior defenders] Grant Van De Casteele and Andrew O’Malley did a very good job.”
Although the scoring ended in the first half, the physical play did not. Although Cicciarelli was shown a yellow card in the 55th minute for a thrown elbow, the referee, Chico Grajeda, rarely stopped play despite several hard challenges. Clark did not take issue with the “let them play” approach.
“Chico’s one of the best referees in the country,” Clark said. “He’s an MLS referee, he did the College Cup final. I would take Chico every single game.”
The Irish have little downtime, as they travel to South Carolina to face Clemson on Saturday. The game kicks off at Riggs Field at 7 p.m.
Contact Vicky Jacobsen at email@example.com