Irish fall in second half to No. 1 Indiana
Matt Puglisi | Thursday, September 16, 2004
Looks can be deceiving, and such was the case for Indiana’s 2-0 victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
The score did not reflect the tenacity of the No. 5 Irish, who dropped to 3-1-1 as No. 1 Indiana rode a pair of second half tallies to improve to 5-0-0.
After the game, coach Bobby Clark remained optimistic.
“There were more positives in a funny way than negatives,” Clark said. “It’s nice to come in against the No. 1 team in the country and play an even game. We didn’t win, but we certainly played a very good game.”
Despite having trouble stringing together passing plays, the Irish had their chances to establish a lead in the first half. In the ninth minute of play, defender Jack Stewart wove through the Indiana defense until the Hoosiers were able to clear the ball out of their danger zone.
After a scoreless first half, the Hoosiers drew first blood at the 53:15 mark when a shot from Indiana forward Jacob Peterson ricocheted off Stewart’s foot, past goalkeeper Chris Sawyer and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Indiana advantage.
“The lad came in from the right, and [the Indiana forwards] played a nice little combination,” Clark said. “It was very well taken – a good shot taken just inside the box.”
The Irish remained fierce on the field, refusing to bow to the defending national champions. In particular, Joe Lampira continued to put pressure on the Hoosier defense after the halftime break.
Determined to deliver the equalizer, the Irish pushed up, only to get burned with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
Hoosier forward Brian Plotkin slotted home the insurance goal on a fast break to bump the Hoosier lead to 2-0 and effectively ice the match for Indiana.
“We were pushing to win the game,” Clark said. “We didn’t come here just to make up the numbers. We got caught in transition, but they’re a very good team.”
The Irish nearly knotted the game at 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining when forward Justin McGeeney got his head on a free kick, yet was denied by Indiana goalkeeper Jay Nolly on a spectacular save.
Nolly stopped four shots on the night while Sawyer blocked three for the Irish.
“Their goalkeeper came up big a couple times,” Clark said. “We did enough in many ways to get more than we did from tonight’s game, but that’s the way it works.”
McGeeney paced the Irish attack, recording three shots, while fellow forward Tony Megna took a pair of his own.
Overall, the shots were nearly even, with Indiana registering ten – five of which were on net – to Notre Dame’s nine – four on net, and Irish took six corner kicks to the Hoosiers’ one.
The contest marked the first time the Irish have battled the No.1 ranked team in the country since they suffered a 2-0 loss to Connecticut in 1998.
Last year, Indiana fell 1-0 to the Irish at Alumni Field. Despite the early-season loss, they returned to Bloomington at the end of the season with the national championship. During Clark’s four years as head coach, the Irish are 2-2 against their traditionally powerful state rival.
The Irish come back home to kick off the Big East portion of their schedule, hosting Georgetown Saturday night at Alumni Field before traveling east to challenge West Virginia next Thursday.
Contact Matt Puglisi at [email protected]