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MENS SOCCER: New season, new attitude

Pat Leonard | Thursday, September 18, 2003

Notre Dame played at Indiana in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. Indiana competed at Notre Dame in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament.

The Irish and Hoosiers, however, still have not met head-to-head. Thursday night at Alumni Field, in the rematch of a second-round 2002 NCAA Tournament battle, the rivals will clash.

“We’ve seen them two weekends now, seen them play four games,” coach Bobby Clark said. “We are familiar with their players. They have a lot of good technical players that can play soccer, as do we.

“Both teams are very talented, and it should make for a very interesting game.”

No. 19 Indiana (2-2-2) has the edge, having won last season in the NCAA Tournament by a slim 1-0 margin. Freshman Brian Plotkin put in his first goal of the season and the Hoosiers held on to advance to the next round. Clark and the Irish remember the loss, but they do not let it haunt them.

“Last year is long gone,” Clark said. “They are a different team and we are a different team, but I’d be telling lies if I said IU-Notre Dame wasn’t a big game. I’m very aware it’s a very important game for both teams.”

No. 13 Notre Dame (2-1-2) is not only fighting Indiana this weekend. They are fighting history, with an all-time 2-18-1 record against the perennial Midwestern powerhouse. Even more remarkable is this statistic – 13 of those losses were shutouts.

Notre Dame forward Devon Prescod has scored three of the team’s four goals so far this season, with midfielder Justin Detter adding the other in a 2-1 overtime victory over Fresno State.

Their presence lessens the concern for productivity from a coach’s standpoint.

“I am not concerned [with our offense],” Clark said. “It is always a concern to score goals. I don’t care who you play against. At the same time, over the years Indiana has been a very strong team.”

Indiana’s strength has been the reason for many a Notre Dame letdown in the past. The Irish have not been able to defeat the Hoosiers either at home (1-9-0) or on the road (1-9-1).

Still, this Irish team is 8-2-1 at home under second-year coach Clark, much better than its 5-4-0 away record and 1-2-1 record at neutral sites.

“Home-field advantage always makes a huge difference,” Clark said. “If you look at the statistics it is obvious it makes a difference, but the last two times we’ve played Indiana on the road.

“This will be the first time a team I’ve coached will play Indiana at home, and I’m excited for that.”

With respect to common opponents, Notre Dame and Indiana both defeated Fresno State this past weekend. Notre Dame tied Akron while Indiana lost to the Zips in overtime.

Still, Clark points out that Indiana carried play and secured more chances against Akron. They were, he said, obviously the better team.

Clark will be coaching against the living legend Jerry Yeagley, who has been at the end of the Hoosier bench for 31 strong seasons and will retire at the end of the year.

Yeagley has won five national championships with Indiana.

Indiana and Notre Dame face off at Alumni Field Thursday at 7 p.m.