Notre Dame looks to continue momentum in top-10 clash versus Indiana
R.J. Stempak | Tuesday, October 4, 2016
No. 2 Notre Dame has jumped back into the top two nationally following wins over No. 3 Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Looking to continue its success, Notre Dame is set to host No. 6 Indiana on Tuesday night.
The Irish (8-1-0, 3-1-0 ACC) will face a challenge against the unbeaten Hoosiers (6-0-4, 1-0-3 Big Ten), who have posted a shutout in five of their last seven contests.
The Irish have found gold throughout the team this year, specifically with junior forward Jon Gallagher and senior defender Brandon Aubrey. Gallagher and Aubrey are number one and three, respectively, in the ACC in points. Gallagher has nineteen points on the year, with eight goals and three assists. Aubrey has earned thirteen points, six coming from goals and a single assist. Irish head coach Bobby Clark said he is glad Gallagher is on the team, who leads by example and has a professional mentality.
“Jon is a pro,” Clark said. “He is a pro in everything he does. He wants to be the best soccer player he can be and he trains very hard. Through the summer and offseason, he is always trying to get better. That is a fantastic talent to have and he’s going to continue to improve every day.”
This statistical dominance is no small feat, as the ACC is the strongest conference in the nation this season. Four of the top-five ranked teams in the nation reside in the ACC. Currently 3-1 in the ACC, Notre Dame is tied for third in the conference and will look to pick up an nonconference win against Indiana.
Clark attributes the success to the team’s ability to adapt and play well in unexpected situations.
“I hope that we can take whatever the game gives us,” Clark said concerning his team’s strengths. “We know we have our system, but at the same time every team is a little bit different, and if you are a good player you recognize what the game gives you. You got to exploit the weaknesses [of the opponent]. We try to get a picture of what other teams do, but we always have to be ready for the unexpected. You have to be well-prepared, but you also have to play the game.”
Indiana is led by a dynamic duo of midfielders, senior Tanner Thompson and redshirt senior Richard Ballard. Thompson and Ballard have each contributed 10 points to the team this season.
As a team, the Hoosiers are a stingy group. They have allowed only five goals on the season through 10 games. Offensively, they have not been able to put it together when their defense has, resulting in four ties on the year. Clark knows that Indiana always fields a strong team, and the Irish will have to respect that when the Hoosiers come in town.
“You have to know you are playing against a really really good team,” Clark said. “[Former Indiana head coach] Jerry Yeagley had them as one of the top teams, and [current Hoosier head coach] Todd [Yeagley] has come in and done the same thing. They always have been one of the top teams in the nation. This year again, they come in unbeaten. We’ve seen them twice close up, as they came to our tournament and we went to theirs. It will be a fantastic game. There is always a big crowd because, you know, we are in the state of Indiana and they are the University of Indiana, so they will always have a big support here as well. I hope our students and our fans turn out so we are not out-shouted.”
The Irish take on the Hoosiers at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at Alumni Stadium.