Notre Dame falls to Indiana in NCAA Quarterfinals
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Aiming to advance to the College Cup for the first time since 2013, as well as hoping to avenge an early-season loss against No. 2 Indiana, No. 7 Notre Dame came up short on Friday, losing 1-0 at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington. The postseason exit marked the end of Chad Riley’s first year as the head coach of the Irish (11-7-3, 4-3-1 ACC).
The first half saw a relatively even battle, with Notre Dame’s majority of the possession resulting in one clear opportunity on goal. After 27 minutes of action, the Irish crossed the ball into the box. Senior forward Sean MacLeod headed the cross, but his shot was denied by Indiana sophomore goalkeeper Trey Muse. The rebound fell to the feet of sophomore midfielder Aiden McFadden, who quickly took a shot right in front of goal. His attempt, however, was blocked by Indiana’s freshman defender Jack Maher.
Both teams went into the locker room during halftime in a scoreless tie.
The Hoosiers (20-2-1, 8-0-0 Big Ten) took control of the game in the second half. In the 64th minute, Indiana senior defender Andrew Gutman found his teammate, senior midfielder Austin Panchot, open for a header. Gutman’s cross connected with Panchot, who converted two yards from goal and put the Hoosiers up 1-0.
From then on out, the Irish were unable to break through the Hoosier defense. Despite pushing forward, Notre Dame would fail to tie the game up and reach the NCAA semifinals. Indiana now holds a record 20th College Cup trip and will face No. 11 Maryland in Santa Barbara, Calif.
As for the Irish, the team finished the season with an almost identical record as the 2017 campaign, in which its final record stood at 11-7-2. While the 2017 Irish team made it to the semifinals of the ACC Championship, whereas the current Irish squad lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament this year, the Irish made it to the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament this season, compared to a second round exit last year.
Irish first-year head coach Chad Riley, who was hired back in January and replaced longtime coach Bobby Clark, relied on a great defense for much of the year. Notre Dame shut out its opponents in the opening 45 minutes in all but one of its game this season. The Irish also held other teams to one or no goal in 17 of its 21 matches.
Offensively, Notre Dame was very team-oriented on the year. Of the 30 goals scored this season by the Irish, 25 of them came off assists. In addition, the offense averaged 1.43 goals per game, and held opponents to 0.95 goals per game.
The Irish also relied a lot on their seniors all season. Graduate student defender Patrick Berneski and senior forward Thomas Ueland led the team with six goals each, followed by senior forward Ian Aschieris, who scored five goals. Senior defender Felicien Dumas led the team in assists with six, followed by MacLeod with three.
The Irish are set to lose Berneski and midfielder Blake Townes, who are graduate students, but will look to build upon a plethora of talented underclassmen, including freshmen midfielder Mohamed Omar and forward Jack Lynn — who both got playing time this season. Although the 2018 season is now a wrap, the Irish are expecting a bright future under Riley.