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Men’s Soccer: Notre Dame clashes with Indiana

Greg Arbogast | Wednesday, October 17, 2007

After Saturday’s 3-3 tie with No. 1 Connecticut, No. 4 Notre Dame will take a break from Big East play, but tonight’s game against in-state rival No. 12 Indiana will be every bit as important as a conference game for the Irish.

“The Indiana game is always special because they have such a fantastic history,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “Then there’s the fact they’re an in-state rival, and the third thing is that they’re always a very good rival.”

Tosponight will mark the 28th time the two schools have met, with Indiana holding a 21-5-1 advantage in the series. Notre Dame, however, is 4-3 against the Hoosiers under Clark, and the Irish won the latest meeting between the two schools Sept. 3, 2006, in the IU/adidas Credit Union Classic.

In that the game, Notre Dame lost three leads before a Joseph Lapira goal sealed the 5-4 overtime victory for the Irish. Lapira scored four goals in the game, jumpstarting his campaign for the Hermann Trophy.

In addition to adding another chapter to the in-state rivalry, Wednesday’s game holds importance for Notre Dame in terms of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Of the 48 teams in the NCAA Tournament field, 24 are automatic bids given to conference champions. The remaining 24 bids go to at-large teams, and regional rankings are a huge factor for the selection committee.

“You just know they’ll be there when its Tournament time, so you know you’re in for a very big game.” Clark said referring to the Hoosiers. “They have a catalog of excellent players in their lineup.”

Defeating the Hoosiers, always a tough task, will be a tall order for Notre Dame. Indiana comes to South Bend having won five of their last six games, including a 1-0 win Sunday over No. 6 Northwestern. The recent run has improved the Hoosiers record to 8-4-1 on the season.

Two of the players Notre Dame will have to watch out for are junior forward Kevin Noschang and sophomore midfielder Eric Alexander, who lead Indiana with four goals each.

On offense, senior Ryan Miller leads the Irish. Miller has played defense, midfield and forward for Notre Dame this season and leads the team in goals with five and points with 13.

Notre Dame will also be counting on Lapira – who had a breakout game against Connecticut Saturday, scoring two goals to double his season total. Lapira scored 22 goals last season, but Clark isn’t worried about his star forward’s statistics.

“Joe’s always going to score goals,” Clark said. “More importantly, Joe’s always going to give 100% during the game and be a tremendous player for our squad.”

The Irish enter tonight’s game with a record of 8-2-3 (5-0-2 Big East) on the season. The game will be their fourth against a ranked opponent in their last five with the only game against an unranked opponent coming against now-No. 6 Michigan State.

Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. at Alumni Field.