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Sports

ND men’s soccer prepares for critical matches against familiar foes

| Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ranked No. 10 in the nation, Notre Dame (3-1) will travel to Bloomington on Tuesday night to take on the No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers (3-0-1). The two teams are quite familiar with each other — Tuesday’s match will be the 42nd match in the history of the rivalry.

Notre Dame has not found great success historically against Indiana, with an all-time record of 10-29-2. However, they have fared better in recent years, going 5-5-1 against Indiana dating back to 2010.

Junya Kanemitsu | The Observer

The Irish are coming off a tough loss at home in the first game of ACC play, losing to No. 13 Clemson 4-2 on Friday. Irish head coach Chad Riley is eager to put that game behind them.

“We want to digest this previous game, regroup, and get going,” Riley said. “We know we’re going down there and playing against a good team in a good environment, it’s about being solid without the ball and getting back to the performances that we were putting in prior to this game.”

This is an especially meaningful matchup for the Irish, as last year they fell twice against the Hoosiers — first losing at home, 2-1 in overtime, and then falling again in Bloomington, 1-0 in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Indiana eventually lost in the semifinals. Coach Riley said those competitions were still very much on his team’s mind.

“Yeah [it is on our minds],” he said. “I think it’s as healthy as a big-time rivalry can be. We love competing against Indiana and there’s always a little extra motivation for our guys when we play them.”

A major storyline heading into the match is whether Irish senior center-back Senan Farrelly will be fit to play. Farrelly is a key piece of the Irish’s strong back line; he played all 90 minutes during each of Notre Dame’s first three games of the season, but missed the game against Clemson due to an injury.

However, Coach Riley thinks there are other players who can step up.

“I think we’ve got good guys that can step up,” Riley said. “I think anytime you lose someone that’s been playing [lots of] minutes you don’t want that. But at the same time, I don’t think that was [the reason for the loss against Clemson].”

However, having Farrelly back would be a huge help against Indiana, who have one of the top offenses in the country.

Indiana is the latest among top teams the Irish will play this season. Notre Dame is set to play five of the current top ten ranked teams in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll this season. Additionally, they will face off against nine teams that qualified for the 2018 NCAA tournament.

However, Coach Riley said playing tough opponents will help the team in the long run.

“Playing good games is going to help you get better,” Riley said. “Ideally you want to improve, play well, and win, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to turn it into something that propels us forward, and I think we’re good at doing that.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bloomington.

About Liam Coolican

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