Irish prepare to host Hoosiers in top-15 matchup
John Horlander | Tuesday, September 11, 2018
After securing wins in all three games on its week-long road trip, No. 12 Notre Dame returns home to Alumni Stadium Tuesday for an in-state showdown with No. 4 Indiana (4-1-0). This is the first time the Irish have played at home since drawing the season opener against Saint Louis University 1-1 after two overtimes.
Notre Dame (3-0-1, 1-0-0 ACC) has been bolstered by senior leadership throughout the first four matches of the season. Senior center back Patrick Berneski leads the team with eight points, and has scored in each of the team’s four matches so far. Senior fullback Felicien Dumas leads the squad with four assists, and his bending free kick into the top-right corner of the net was the difference maker in Notre Dame’s 3-2 victory over Syracuse (2-2-0, 0-1-0 ACC) last Friday.
“The senior class has good chemistry,” first-year head coach Chad Riley said. “They’re good about mixing with all the guys. On the field they show leadership, and the team really leans on that experience and benefits from them leading by example.”
The Irish have eight seniors on the roster, six of which have registered either a goal or an assist in the first four matches. This experience is something the team will need to lean on when the Hoosiers come to South Bend on Tuesday night.
The Irish are 10-27-2 all-time against Indiana, but have found success in recent years, winning five of the last eight matchups. The Hoosiers beat the Irish 1-0 last season when the two teams faced off in Bloomington, Ind., but in 2016 Notre Dame registered its largest ever margin of victory in the series when it won 4-0.
The top-15 showdown on Tuesday night is just another in a long list of tough matches the Irish will play this year. Of the current top seven teams in this week’s United Soccer Coaches poll, Notre Dame will face five of them: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Michigan State, No, 4 Indiana, No, 5 North Carolina and No. 7 Louisville.
Of the nine goals the Irish have scored, five of them have come from set pieces. All four of Berneski’s goals have come from headers from set pieces, and Dumas’ stunning free kick against Syracuse was the fifth. This is something Coach Riley has emphasized in training, and the squad has capitalized on the pitch.
“We have a couple of guys who are good on set pieces,” Riley said. “They find space and work on them quite a bit in training. When the game stops, and this is also something we work on, the delivery has been great, and the service has been good.”
The Irish offense will have to be on its best performance on Tuesday, as the Hoosiers have not conceded a goal in four consecutive matches, including an impressive mark of three straight shutouts against ranked opponents. All signs point towards neither team breaking through until late in Tuesday’s matchup, as seven of Notre Dame’s nine goals have come in the second half of matches this season while the Irish defense has yet to concede a goal in the first half in 2018.
The Irish and Hoosiers face off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Alumni Stadium.