ND Men’s Soccer
Irish notch first win of 2023, hammer IUPUI 5-0
Andrew McGuinness | Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Though the Notre Dame men’s soccer team didn’t begin its season with a win, the Irish didn’t exactly get off to a bad start. Coming away with a 1-1 draw against No. 2 Indiana was hardly a poor outcome. With a slate of easier non-conference opponents to follow, the Irish have a clear path to get back on a postseason trajectory after regressing in 2022 following a College Cup berth.
On Sunday night, the Irish indeed took that first step. Led by a hat trick from junior forward Matthew Roou, the Irish etched a dominant 5-0 victory over IUPUI. Only twice in the last three seasons have the Irish won by such a lopsided margin.
“It was a good test,” said Irish head coach Chad Riley. “We knew it’d be a good game for us. I think for the most part it was [a] really good contest.”
For the second straight match, the Irish drew first blood, taking just over seven minutes to do so. Junior forward Eno Nto snuck behind the Jaguars’ defense and laced an excellent through ball from sophomore midfielder KK Baffour past IUPUI goalkeeper Lucas Morefield for the opening strike. Less than 15 minutes later, Baffour was the one on the finishing end of an Irish tally. A ball into the box caromed off a Jaguar into his path, giving Baffour his third career multi-point collegiate contest. The two goals not only gave Notre Dame the lead but forced IUPUI to change its playstyle.
“I think goals change the tactics of the game,” Riley said. “And so I think the fact that they’ve got to come out [and be more aggressive] and then the second goal, maybe they have to come out even a little bit more, which creates a little bit more space, but I do think the first goal is always always something you want to get.”
The Jaguars came out focusing on being as defensively stout as possible. That allowed the Irish to control play, outshooting IUPUI 7-1 in the opening 45 minutes. As Notre Dame wore them down throughout the night, the game devolved into the Matthew Roou show. Not only did the junior notch his first career hat trick, he scored in a different fashion each time.
“It’s just probing in probing out like, wearing them down slowly,” Roou said. “You know, they were really good in the first half or the second and by the end they were just worn out out of energy.”
First, he put the game all but out of reach with some fancy footwork and a hard shot from just inside the box. In the 85th minute, he turned the night into his second career multi-goal game, knocking home the rebound of a blocked cross from senior defender Paddy Burns. That goal could have easily been the exclamation point on a great night for Roou and his team. But he maneuvered back into the box just a minute later, only to be tripped up by Morefield. Roou deliberately stepped up to the penalty area, picked his spot and smashed in the hat-trick goal.
“It was amazing. First career hat trick. It’s always great feeling great when undefeated so far,” Roou said. When asked if he planned his PK or improvised on the spot, Roou said, “I always have it in my head before I kick it so I knew exactly where I was going.”
The victory won’t turn any heads. IUPUI is far from the most formidable opponent the Irish will play this season. But to embark on a deep postseason run for the second time in three years, Notre Dame must go one step at a time. Beating the teams they’re supposed to is step one. So far, so good.